Scenic Byway 12 is 122 miles of outstanding scenery and geology that defies description.
The photos are divided into seven sections, west to east, as illustrated by the cycling banners: through Red Canyon, by Bryce Canyon National Park, past Powell Point atop
the Blues, down the slick rock hill, into Calf Creek Canyon, across the Hogback, and onto Boulder summit for a view.
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.
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 the historic Burr Trail with outstanding scenery, through Long Canyon and down the Waterpocket Fold switchbacks to the junction with 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 U279.
The Photo Gallery for previewing photos is followed by a menu of Auto-shows with View all photos, a QuickTour with one photo from each of the seven sections, and auto-shows of each of the seven sections. The Central Utah Map shows Scenic Byway 12 winding through mountainous south-central Utah between US89 at its western end and Scenic Byway U24 at Torrey on the eastern end.
Note: On December 4, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order redefining the boundaries 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 (there are hints that these three units may become individual national monuments with the Grand Staircase-Escalante going away). 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. The geologic Grand Staircase formation is not a national monument and is not affected by this order.