Entrance to Red Canyon Bryce Canyon National Park Powell Point above the Blues Slickrock hill on Scenic Byway U12 Calf Creek Canyon Scenic Byway U12 on the hogback Waterpocket Fold from Boulder Mountain summit

Scenic Byway 12 - Utah State Highway 12

Scenic Byway 12 is 122 miles of outstanding scenery and geology that defies description.  Our trip up SB12 is in seven segments, west to east, as illustrated by the cycling banners:  up Red Canyon, beside Bryce Canyon National Park, alongside the Paria River and past Powell Point atop the Blues between Tropic and Escalante, down a slick rock hill and across slickrock into Calf Creek Canyon, across narrow benches - the Hogback - and across Boulder summit before descending to the end of SB12 at Torrey.

Our tour starts at the west end of Scenic Byway 12 at US89, 7 miles south of Panguich.  Drive up Scenic Byway 12 to experience the colorful ride up Red Canyon and through its tunnels, see the awesome views and hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park, view the colors and sedimentary pipes of Kodachrome Basin State Park, drive up the mountain past the Blues to Petrified Forest State Park on the west end of the town of Escalante, go by petrified sand dunes next to live dunes at the side of the road on the wind-eroded Slickrock is defined by Mirriam-Webster as smooth wind-polished rock. Answers.com says it is lithified (consolidated) sand dune, a marine or aeolian sand dune that has become compacted and hardened. Sounds to me like a petrified sand dune. Wagon wheels could not gain traction on this wind-polished slick sandstone, so Mormon settlers gave it the name slickrock.slickrock - awesome views of petrified sand left behind when the ocean dried up eons ago, drive through scenic Calf Creek Canyon with Lower and Upper Calf Creek Falls, an The 2¾ mile hike from the campground to the lower falls is relatively easy - sandy, with little elevation change. Hiking the upper falls is a different story - there are several trails, all are significantly more difficult.easy hike from the BLM Recreation Area campground, stand on the edge of the road on top of the world and look down into the canyon from from either side of the road on a narrow ridge between two benches barely wide enough for the highway, stop at the Anasazi State Park Museum to view artifacts of the Ancestral Puebloans who lived here long ago, climb onto Boulder Mountain atop theThe Aquarius plateau is the highest timbered plateau in North America [Wikipedia, USGS] Aquarius plateau on top of the The Grand Staircase is a huge geologic formation in Utah and Arizona, running from the Grand Canyon to Boulder Mountain. This geologic formation is the source for the name of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.Grand Staircase, with stunning views from Boulder summit of the Henry Mountains, Waterpocket Fold inside capitol Reef National Park, and Lower Browns Reservoir, then down the mountain and off the Aquarius plateau to Scenic Byway 12's end at Scenic Byway 24 in Torrey, 5 miles west of the entrance to Capitol Reef National Park.

Digress with a side trip down historic Burr Trail with outstanding scenery, through Long Canyon and down the Waterpocket Fold switchbacks to Notom-Bullfrog Road.  Turn around and climb the switchbacks to return to SB12, or go north on Notom-Bullfrog Road to Scenic Byway 24, and west through Capitol Reef National Park to the eastern end of Scenic Byway 12 at Torrey.  The Burr Trail continues to the southeast to Utah 279.

The Photo gallery presents 40 photos for your viewing pleasure, including an auto-show of the photos.

The Utah SB12 map shows Scenic Byway 12 winding through mountainous south-central Utah between US89 and Scenic Byway 24 at Torrey.

Note: On December 4, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order redefining the boundary of the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument.  It introduces three units inside the original monument named, west to east, Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits, and Escalante Canyons.  SB12 is now inside the Escalante Canyons unit only across the slickrock, through Calf Creek Canyon, and across the hogback.  Our page on the Canyons of the Escalante is about the canyons of the Escalante River and its tributaries, extending to the south of the monument, not about the unit of the same name inside the Grand Staircase-Escalante NM.  Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has visited the Bears Ears and Grandstaircase-Escalante National Monuments and will present a review to President Joe Biden about the future boundaries of the monuments.