Utah Scenic Byway 95, on the Trail of the Ancients
Utah Scenic Byway 95 (SB95) is 122 miles long, from US191 on the east, four miles south of Blanding, to Scenic Byway Utah 24 in Hanksville, with unique scenery, huge canyons, sheer rock cliffs, deep slot canyons - beautiful scenery and awesome geology for its entire length. SB95 between US191 and Natural Bridges National Monument is on the Trail of the Ancients - the only national scenic byway dedicated to archaeology and culture, highlighting the archaeological and cultural history of the southwestern Native American peoples (menu option Trail of the Ancients has more info on the trail). We formerly thought that the senic byway, between Natural Bridges and where it crosses the canyon near Hite, twists and turns and curves around White Canyon, but looking at this map has convinced us that SB95 runs inside White Canyon, alongside its deep gorge. The infamy of Fry Canyon dates back to the 1950s when the AEC (US Atomic Energy Commission) opened an uranium mine in Fry Canyon without telling the miners of the radiation to which they would be exposed and from which they might die (they did). Select Fry Canyon Lodge on the menu to open a photo and the full story (as much as is known) of the history of Fry Canyon.Isolated and historic Fry Canyon Lodge, the only building for the entire length of SB95, is closed again (its history, and infamy, are provided in the Fry Canyon Lodge menu option). Ancestral Puebloan ruins may be found throughout the area in Butler Wash, Mule Canyon, Arch Canyon, and throughout Cedar Mesa, a vast wilderness area with many trails that are generally uncharted. SB95 cuts through Bears Ears National Monument.
Going west from US191, SB95 drops off the plateau into Cottonwood Canyon (near
Zekes Hole basin) in a dangerous, winding section of the highway, passes two North Butler Wash trailheads, cuts through the Comb Ridge monocline, passes the restored Mule Canyon ruin between milemarkers 102 and 101, meets U275 to Natural Bridges National Monument, meets U261 that crosses the center of Cedar Mesa and drops down dirt switchbacks into the Valley of the Gods, crosses Fry Canyon near Fry Canyon Lodge, runs inside White Canyon (with its infamous Black Hole) from Natural Bridges to Hite, crosses the Bridge at Hite Crossing over the Colorado and Lake Powell in massive Glen Canyon at its junction with Cataract Canyon, and turns northwest up North Wash to Hanksville, passsing Hog Springs Rest Area, Hog Canyon, and trailheads to several slot canyons.
Scenic Byway 95 is surrounded by National Parks and Monuments, recreation and wilderness areas. Many slot canyon hike adventures are in North Wash - some are extremely technical. A link off a North Wash gallery photo & auto-show has the story of a Leprechaun Canyon search and rescue with a happy ending - view the Technical Canyoneering Rescue story here.
The Photo gallery highlights five sections along SB95 as they appear east-to-west: Comb Ridge, Natural Bridges National Monument, Fry and White Canyon, Hite Crossing, and North Wash, with scenic views interspersed along the way; with an auto-show of the photo gallery.
Limited photos appear here for Comb Ridge, Natural Bridges National Monument, and White Canyon, with their articles providing significantly more photos and information.
Articles of archaeological sites with trailheads along SB95 include Butler Wash, Mule Canyon, and Cedar Mesa.