Southern Utah's Scenic Byway 12
Byway 12 in
Scenic Byway 12 runs 124 miles from Capital Reef National Park to where it intersects with the Mt. Carmel Scenic Byway. The Mt. Carmel Scenic Byway (Highway 89), ends at Mt. Carmel Junction, just 12 miles from Zion National Park. Shortly after turning off the Mt. Carmel Scenic Byway onto Scenic Byway 12 is Dixie National Forest's beautiful Red Canyon. Many think they have
already made it to Bryce Canyon, when they see red rock hoodoos everywhere but that is still 17 miles away. Red
Canyon, in Dixie National Forest, is governed by the Forest Service so bring your ATV's and your bicycles when planning a visit to Red Canyon. Just a short jaunt away is Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce is known for its breathtaking red rock hoodoos.
"All American Road"
Scenic Byway 12 was named Utah's first "All American Road," and it's main focus
of beauty is Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce Canyon is a fairyland
of sculpted rock formed into mythical castles, temples and elegant cities of
stone. It is easy to imagine a castle in the clouds when walking among the hoodoos
in Bryce Canyon. Before you arrived at Bryce, it will be evident that you are in Bryce Canyon
country, as hoodoos peak their heads up here and there along Scenic Byway 12. In Bryce Canyon the elevation is between 6,600 and 9,100
ft., so it is cooler than nearby Zion National Park. Bryce Canyon offers
a wonderful scenic drive that twists and turns on the edge of red rock scenes. There are several pull-outs to stop and get out at that overlook magnificent hoodoos. The scenic drive begins at an elevation of 8,000 ft., near the Bryce
Canyon Visitor Center, and rises as high as 9,100 ft. at Rainbow Point. The scenic drive in Bryce is stunning all year long, but it's special in the winter when crystal white snow settles on red pinnacles of stone making a gorgeous winter scene to visit. Dress warm if visiting in the winter, because it can get quite chilly at this high elevation.
This little backway is a fun way to travel from Bryce Canyon, through the Grand Staircase to the east side of Zion National Park. Look for the sign marking the entrance to the Grand Staircase,
just past the Grand Staircase Visitor Center in Cannonville. Info:
Road begins as a narrow, twisting dirt road, but widens when entering the
Kane County section. There are two easy slot canyon hikes along
this path. The first you will encounter is Willis Creek, then Lick Wash. This
road may be impassible when wet. Exit in Glendale in East Zion.
Zion National Park Vacation: Canyon Country
Private vehicles can travel SR-9, from Zion's south entrance, out the east entrance (or visa versa) to the junction of SR-9 & US-89 year-round, 24 hours a day. See tunnel restrictions for Oversized Vehicles.
In summer, the only access to the Scenic Zion Canyon Drive is via Zion's shuttle, but during the winter private vehicles can travel in the canyon. Exact dates the shuttle runs may vary.
At the higher, moister highlands
of Bryce Canyon, the vegetation is lush and at the dryer lowlands it is sparse. The higher elevations
are forested with blue spruce, limber pine, white fir, Douglas fir and white
barked aspens. From the higher Bryce Canyon view points, such as Rainbow
Point at 9,100 ft., look for the mixed evergreen forest mingled with
towering aspens. The lower lands are dominated by Utah juniper and pinion