Driving Scenic Byway 12 in Utah: What to Expect

When Shelly and I went on our road trip around Utah’s National Parks, I had many people reach out to me on Instagram insisting that we had to take the long way from Zion National Park to Moab via driving Scenic Byway 12, or as it’s apparently known as, “A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway.”

Scenic Byway 12 highway sign

This road is a designated All-American Road, which is a distinction only given to about 1/3 of scenic byways. All-American Roads get this distinction because they offer unique features that you can’t find anywhere else. We also overheard a couple of different people raving about it while we were in Zion. Needless to say, our expectations for this 113 mile-long stretch of highway were very high and we were excited about the journey… but did it live up to the hype?

Scenic Byway 12 Map in Utah

As we set off, I made the joke, “what if it’s not even that cool?” Laughing because everyone had talked so much about it. I think I might have jinxed us…

Destinations Along Scenic Byway 12

Bryce Canyon National Park

We stopped off at Bryce Canyon National Park to do a little exploring. We opted not to do any hikes, but the road that runs through the park offers plenty of pull-offs with scenic viewing points, so we spent an hour or two exploring and driving through the park.

Bryce Canyon landscape photo
Bryce Canyon Utah Road trip destination

Driving along Scenic Byway 12

After leaving Bryce National Park, that’s when things became a little questionable. We were expecting amazing, what we got was dirt…

views from scenic byway 12
Road along byway 12 in utah
byway 12 road

Not that it was ugly, it just wasn’t the incredible drive we were expecting — and again, it just wasn’t anywhere as amazing as Zion National Park.

driving through utah canyons
highway 12 in utah
byway 12 in Utah road trip

The Hogback

After Calf Creek is an internationally famous stretch of byway known as “The Hogback.” The road runs along a very steep ridge that drops off on both sides.

Hogback on Utah Byway 12

Boulder Mountain

It was a very diverse drive though, we went from the above photos to a forest on Boulder Mountain in a matter of a couple miles. 

Boulder Mountain in Utah
Boulder Mountain - Byway 12
Boulder Mountain along Byway 12

Capitol Reef National Park

Once we got to Capitol Reef National Park, it definitely got way better. I would’ve loved to have explored this park more!

Driving into Capitol Reef National Park
Driving through Capitol Reef
Capitol Reef along Scenic Byway 12
Capitol Reef National Park Drive
road driving through Capitol Reef
driving through capitol reef national park
driving on byway 12 through capitol reef
Capitol Reef on Byway 12
Road going through Capitol Reef in Utah

On to Moab

We continued driving Scenic Byway 12 on to Moab, Utah, our final destination. 

Driving Utah's Scenic Byway 12
Road along byway 12 in utah
Scenic drive along Utah's Byway 12

Is Driving Scenic Byway 12 worth it?

So is it worth it to add on the extra hour and a half (at least)? Yes. You’re traveling and there to experience all that you can, so I say go for it! It didn’t live up to our expectations, but it’s made for some pretty funny inside jokes and memories, including buying $50 fringe vests at a gas station…

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Have you ever driven Scenic Byway 12 before? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

xx Chels

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