Scenic Byway 12 is the route travels between Bryce Canyon National Park and Capitol Reef National Park. This spectacular 123 mile drive is also known as “A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway” and it is also designated an All-American Road.  Our hotel was on Rt 12, so we were able to check out the sections that were closer to Bryce while we were there.

Mossy Cave is actually part of Bryce Canyon National Park, but since it is right off Rt 12, I’m including it here. In the late 1800’s, Mormon pioneers dug an irrigation ditch using picks and shovels. This canal now supplies two local communities with irrigation water. While there is a cave, the waterfall and irrigation canal are what makes this area of the park unique.

Kodachrome Basin State Park is also off Route 12, not far from our hotel, and we spent a couple of hours hiking around the park. In 1948, the National Geographic Society named this area Kodachrome after a popular color film. It has 67 monolithic stone spires and our trail allowed us to see many of them.

We traveled the rest of Scenic Route 12 on our way to Capitol Reef State Park. We wish we had spent more time traveling this route, because there were jaw dropping views everywhere. What took us 3-4 hours, could easily have taken a full day, however, with our tight schedule, we only had a few hours.

In 1935, Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) began building the “Million Dollar Road”, which took 5 years to complete. While there were routes through the area prior to completion of this road, the area was pretty remote, particularly Boulder Utah. The CCC built the Lower Boulder Road (part of Rt 12), which connected Escalante and Boulder, and was the first all season road connecting these communities. As we traveled, there was still snow at the highest elevations (9000 feet) and the Aspen were bare. I would love to travel this road in the fall when the Aspen are at peak foliage!

Be sure to schedule time for Scenic Byway 12 on YOUR trip to see the National Parks in Utah. It is well worth the time!

About Author

Karen is a retired software developer, now exploring our beautiful country with her husband, Steve.

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