Highway 12 Utah’s All American Road

Torrey to Panguitch

Utah’s Scenic Byway 12 is one of only 31 All-American Roads.

To receive a National Scenic Byway designation a road must be recognized by the U.S. Department of Transportation as possessing one or more of the following intrinsic qualities: archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic.

The most-scenic byways are designated All-American Roads, which must meet two out of the six intrinsic qualities of a national scenic byway. The designation means they have features that do not exist elsewhere in the United States and are unique and important enough to be tourist destinations unto themselves. In other words, Highway 12 is one of the best of the best!

I take people from all over the country and other parts of the world on Highway 12, we spend a full day on the road but could easily spend a week visiting the many sights along the route. It’s a highlight of the tour.

Here are a few suggestions for you trip down Highway 12. This is short list of the many things you can do and places to visit and explore on this amazing road.

  • Panguitch – Settled in 1882, located on Utah Heritage Highway 89, 7 miles north of the junction with Scenic Byway 12 and is the eastern gateway to Highway 143 Patchwork Parkway National Scenic Byway.  Check out Gem Theatre Reel Bites Cafe for a great meal and movie in an historic movie theater.
  • Thunder Mountain Trailhead – Located at the west entrance of Red Canyon. This is the starting point for the Thunder Mountain Trail and the paved Canyon Bike trail that parallels Highway 12 to the Bryce Canyon exit and continues to Inspiration Point.
  • Red Canyon Visitors Center – Operated by the Dixie National Forest Service. Stop here for trail maps, restrooms, and other general information about the canyon and region. The canyon offers a number of well-marked hiking and mountain bike trails. The center is closed in the off-season.
  • Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant – A favorite stop for lunch. I highly recommend the homemade pies!
  • John’s Valley Road – If you have the time, this is scenic side-trip to Antimony on a  paved road that passes through the ghost town of Widtsoe that was abandoned in 1936. Also on this route is the popular the popular Rockin’ R Guest Ranch.
  • Bryce Canyon City – Ruby’s Inn, Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel, Bryce View Lodge, Ebenezer’s Barn & Grill, RV Park & campground, Summer rodeo. Great family buffet at Ruby’s Inn. If visiting Bryce Canyon on an extended stay, I recommend staying here.
  • Bryce Canyon National Park Visitor Center – Restrooms, auditorium with park orientation film (recommended), gift shop and museum. This is a good first stop to make when visiting the park.
  • Fairyland Point – Located in the northern portion of the park outside the gates. This is the trailhead of the Fairyland Loop Trail.
  • Sunrise Point –  The Queen’s Garden Trail begins, or ends at this point. This trail connects to the Navajo Loop and Peek-A-Boo Trails. See if you can find the “Tippy-Toe” Bristlecone Pine at the viewpoint. (restrooms)
  • Sunset Point – This may be the most popular viewpoint at Bryce. It’s the connecting point between Sunrise and Inspiration Points. The 1.3 mile long Navajo Loop begins and ends here. (restrooms)
  • Inspiration Point – This point offers one of the most classic views of Bryce Canyon. There are 3 viewpoints; lower, middle, upper. (restrooms)
  • Bryce Point – Bryce Point is the point I recommend for sunrise viewing. It can get quite cold in the morning even during the summer months. This is where the Peek-A-Boo trail begins or ends. I recommend starting here, not as much climbing if you start here. You can also hike the rim trail to access all viewpoints in this section of the park.
  • Natural Bridge – The name is misleading. Natural Bridge is actually an arch, and worth seeing. The road is about 11 miles from the visitors center. The road past the turn-off to Bryce Point is closed during the winter months.
  • Rainbow & Yovimpa Points – The farthest and highest points at Bryce Canyon. Road is closed during the winter months. (restrooms)
Scroll through the list or use the search box to find points of interest.
TitleCategoryAddressDescription
Notom Bullfrog Basin Road 38.2834812058435,-111.12848769088248

This road intersect with the Burr Trail that will take you to Bullfrog Basin / Lake Powell or back to Boulder Utah.

Behunin Cabin 38.282187621384516,-111.17060110044497

One of the original pioneer homesteaders. You may recognize the name from Zion National Park. It also has a Behunin cabin. They really got around! 

Grand Wash Trailhead 38.27826621950105,-111.19248059356204
Capitol Down Viewpoint 38.28412941322461,-111.2061579982497

Watch for a turnout with an interpretive sign on the north side of the road. This is one of the best places to see Capitol Dome.

Hickman Bridge Trail Head 38.28866013701835,-111.22794691897758

Hickman Bridge is one of the most popular and accessible attractions at Capitol Reef. The hike is approx. 2 miles round-trip. This is also the starting point the the 9 mile Rim View trail that is considered strenuous due to length and steady uphill hiking. The parking lot often fills so best to go early in the day. (restrooms)

Petroglyphs 38.28845929313325,-111.24240235884633

Here you'll find a boardwalk that gives access to views of petroglyphs on the canyon wall. This stretch of road is also a popular area for deer and wild turkeys. 

Fruita Schoolhouse 38.28813196962914,-111.24837597305304

Historic one-room schoolhouse.

Pioneer Register 38.21146087843242,-111.16056929039348

Pioneer names and dates etched in the canyon walls.

Capitol Gorge Parking Lot 38.208102608500376, -111.19493475918784

This is the end of the pavement. The road from this point on is sand and dirt, suitable for passenger cars in good weather. The gate will be closed if impassible. (restroom) Capitol Gorge leads to the Golden Throne, Pioneer Register and Tanks trails.

Scenic Drive to Capitol Gorge 38.27807373360445,-111.24961306218995

10 miles each way with numerous turn-out and trailheads for hiking. The popular Grand Wash trail is accessible from this road. 

Historic Gifford House & Homestead 38.28380274822404, -111.24729557064984

I highly recommend the homemade pie! There's a very nice picnic area on the homestead grounds.

Goosenecks Overlook 38.29890789903461,-111.29792809376744
Panorama Point 38.307290423117514, -111.2957187472436
Chimney Rock Trailhead 38.31576498017556,-111.30397076925783
Hole in the Rock 37.256335775711904,-110.89999192435533
Devils Garden 37.58543437306827,-111.41435040295198
Capitol Reef Country Visitor Center 38.298378973497236, -111.4017031693997
Capitol Reef National Park Visitor Center 38.29121286369509,-111.26211300523886
Torrey Utah 38.302872570862256, -111.43029111402956

Torrey is the Eastern Gateway to Scenic Byway 12 and lies about 9 miles west of Capitol Reef National Park. It was settled in the 1880s and reportedly named after Colonel Jay Torrey, one of Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. The town’s original log schoolhouse is located along the cottonwood tree-lined Main Street (Highway 24).

Fish Creek Cove Pictographs 38.23198719415231,-111.4108822155585
Larb Hollow Overlook 38.13221547645915, -111.32648475996132
Homestead Overlook 38.01177748786799, -111.35888243303418

From this lookout visitors can see the five peaks of the Henry Mountains to the east, the magenta wedge of the Waterpocket Fold below, and the striated face of the Kaiparowits Plateau to the west. Far off in the distance, the slopes of Navajo Mountain. (restrooms) 

Anasazi State Park Museum 37.91084596120932, -111.42362820661856

Tour a life-sized, six-room replica of an ancient dwelling and view a portion of the original site. Inside, view artifacts excavated from this site and learn the lifeways of these people.

Boulder Utah 37.90641273199939, -111.42230802155137

Settled in 1894, the town was named for the volcanic boulders scattered across the slopes of nearby Boulder Mountain. Boulder claims to be the last community in the continental U.S. to receive its mail by mule train. Completion of a year-round road in 1939 opened Boulder to car traffic from the south and west. I've been told that the first vehicle was delivered in pieces  by mule then reassembled. 

Burr Trail 37.901034146741736, -111.42448075502898

Originally developed as a cattle trail by stockman John Atlantic Burr, the Burr Trail Scenic Backway passes through three iconic parks starting at Boulder Utah to the north located on Highway 12 to Bullfrog Basin and Ticaboo Utah to the south on Highway 276. 

Hell's Backbone Bridge 37.97021138206614, -111.59920053930898

Hell's Backbone Bridge, which is 109 feet long, and 14 feet wide. A 1,500-foot drop is on either side. Near the bridge are views of the Box-Death Hollow Wilderness.

Hells Backbone Road 37.889589297747186, -111.45877951053586

Hell’s Backbone Road is a gravel road that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, and connects the towns of Boulder and Escalante. Halfway along the road is Hell's Backbone Bridge, a must-stop for taking photographs, allows travelers to pass above Sand Creek with views of the spectacular Box-Death Hollow Wilderness Area. 

Upper Calf Creek Trail Park Area 37.85932842680214,-111.43756977478392
The Hogback 37.83597202965105,-111.41858616502913

The Hogback is a portion of Highway 12 that travels over the narrow razorback spine of a slickrock mesa with deep canyons on either sie. There are several good places to pull out to take in the views. 

Calf Creek Viewpoint 37.83077576988036,-111.41487703539008

Blow your socks off view of Calf Creek Canyon! 

Lower Calf Creek Falls 37.82914539897355,-111.42010244450705

Lower Calf Creek Falls is a popular 126-foot waterfall that can be reached by an easy hike on a 5½ mile roundtrip trail.

Calf Creek Recreation Area 37.79450419844319,-111.41400223472328

Calf Creek Campground is located within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The Recreation Area includes a 13-site campground, a day-use picnic area and trailhead to the Lower Calf Creek Falls. 

Escalante River Trailhead 37.77554645140151,-111.41768753823646

The Escalante was the last river of its size to be discovered in the 48 contiguous U.S.  The trailhead is located adjacent highway 12 on the upstream side of the Escalante River Bridge. The Escalante Natural Bridge and Escalante Natural Arch are just two of the geologic wonders accessible from this trailhead.

Kiva Koffeehouse 37.772279524283014,-111.41698296602709

A mandatory stop on my tours for pastries, tea, hot chocolate or coffee, but most of all I stop for the views! Closed in the off-season and at 4:30PM in season.

Boynton Overlook 37.77243033807801, -111.42266633930603

In 1993 my tourism mentor, John Warner, aka, the wagonmaster, and I parked at this location where he proclaimed that the view we could see from this spot would some day be a national park. In 1996 it became a national monument. The overlook was named for John Boynton, a cattle man caught in a confrontation over a woman that ended with murder in 1878. 

Head of the Rocks Overlook 37.746752541194255,-111.45403126338886

This is a MUST STOP & PARK viewpoint that offers expansive panoramic views of the canyons of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and beyond. In the distance many major landmarks come in to view including Boulder Mountain, the Henry Mountains, Navajo Mountain and the eastern edge of the Kaiparowits Plateau. 

Hole in the Rock Road 37.72417384340069, -111.52642906570725

(graded gravel & dirt road) This 57-mile-long Hole-in-the-Rock Road closely follows the route taken by Mormon pioneers in 1879–80 trek to Bluff UT. The road gives access to a number of recreational destinations. (Visit the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center for details)

Escalante Heritage Center 37.76238244667305, -111.57841218150759

Displays and information about the historic Hole-in-the-Rock Expedition to Bluff UT. 

Cannonville Visitors Center 37.56734675537921,-112.05445704645325

The Cannonville Visitor Center interprets the human geography of the Grand Staircase-Escalante region through displays and oral histories of early settlers and Native Americans.  (public restrooms)

Escalante Utah 37.770807505144575, -111.6032854490038

Settled in 1876 by Mormon pioneers. The town was named after the river running through the valley that was originally named  for Spanish explorer, Father Silvestre Velez de Escalante. Nestled between the Aquarius and Kaiparowits Plateaus, Escalante is considered the “Heart of Scenic Byway 12.” 

Escalante Interagency Visitor Center 37.77278357546542, -111.61536030289068

The center provides information for enjoying and exploring the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Dixie National Forest, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. (public restrooms)

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park 37.78680864732258,-111.62939350226924

Camp along the shores of Wide Hollow Reservoir, or rent a canoe, kayak or paddle board on its clear waters. Hike along park nature trails through a petrified forest. Some say the petrified wood is haunted and removing a piece brings the taker nothing but bad luck.

Bryce Canyon National Park Visitor Center 37.6403342483731, -112.16964675210659
Wide Hollow Reservoir & Campground 37.78719725138471, -111.63180161767099

Popular fishery

Upper Valley Graineries (ruin) 37.74207151330202,-111.72201848006364

Tucked into the cliff face above this wayside is a small stone-and-mud-daubed structure constructed by Ancient Puebloans. The pull-out is on the south side of the highway with spotting scopes that point to this ruin.  The structure is thought to be a storage place for corn, grain, and other foods grown and harvested nearby. 

Powell Point 37.68675363319638, -111.90252389650249
Powell Point Vista (viewpoint) 37.63937026351857, -111.84454045893949

This is a good place to stretch your legs and take in the view of Powell Point. Named after John Wesley Powell, this is one of the last uncharted regions of the continental U.S. 

Henrieville Utah 37.56329945417272, -111.99334792895274

Settled in the 1870s. Historic homes and barns. The old town school, constructed in 1881 of rough-cut timber harvested on a nearby mountain, functions today as a senior citizen center and town hall.

Kodachrome Basin State Park 37.520946882748454, -111.99217107423846

One of Utah's 44 state parks and recreation areas. Located 8 miles from Cannonville.

Cannonville UT 37.566692464694306, -112.05399141535145

Gateway to Kodachrome Basin State Park. Settled in 1876 and named after Mormon pioneer leader George Q. Cannon. (public restrooms)

Tropic Utah 37.64017443210227, -112.08095872992249

Located at the foot of Bryce Canyon. (You can see the town from the viewpoints above) Tropic’s name originated with the claim made by the town’s first settlers that the climate here was much more temperate than that in nearby settlements. You decide! (public restrooms)

Fairyland Point 37.648953291279476, -112.14749531704291

Located in the northern portion of the park outside the gates. This is the trailhead of the Fairyland Loop Trail.

Mossy Cave 37.66341043968097, -112.1146013906482

Originally known as Water Canyon, Mossy Cave trail is a short easy hike. From 1890-1892 Mormon pioneers carve an irrigation ditch from the East Fork of the Sevier River, through the Paunsaugunt Plateau, into this canyon. 

Rainbow & Yovimpa Points 37.47567868508244, -112.24070413026499

The farthest and highest points at Bryce Canyon. Road is closed during the winter months. (restrooms)

Natural Bridge 37.531974176586665, -112.26053204443804

The name is misleading. Natural Bridge is actually an arch, and worth seeing. The road is about 11 miles from the visitors center. The road past the turn-off to Bryce Point is closed during the winter months.

Bryce Point 37.604129336478046, -112.15688345703654

Bryce Point is the point I recommend for sunrise viewing. It can get quite cold in the morning even during the summer months. This is where the Peek-A-Boo trail begins or ends. I recommend starting here, not as much climbing if you start here. You can also hike the rim trail to access all viewpoints in this section of the park.

Inspiration Point 37.61581529874601, -112.17020058847675

This point offers one of the most classic views of Bryce Canyon. There are 3 viewpoints; lower, middle, upper. (restrooms)

Sunset Point 37.622594381976505, -112.16600270927307

This may be the most popular viewpoint at Bryce. It's the connecting point between Sunrise and Inspiration Points. The 1.3 mile long Navajo Loop begins and ends here. (restrooms)

Sunrise Point 37.62830169465597, -112.16296419366665

The Queen's Garden Trail begins, or ends at this point. This trail connects to the Navajo Loop and Peek-A-Boo Trails. See if you can find the "Tippy-Toe" Bristlecone Pine at the viewpoint. (restrooms)

Bryce Canyon City 37.673771006777656, -112.15664907991709

Ruby's Inn, Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel, Bryce View Lodge, Ebenezer's Barn & Grill, RV Park & campground, Summer rodeo.

John's Valley Road 37.69342851395419, -112.15139780387568

If you have the time, this is scenic side-trip to Antimony on a  paved road that passes through the ghost town of Widtsoe that was abandoned in 1936. 

Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant 37.70979474973795, -112.2103971879917

A favorite stop for lunch. I highly recommend the homemade pies! 

Red Canyon Visitors Center 37.74584208792642, -112.31951437582694

Operated by the Dixie National Forest Service. Stop here for trail maps, restrooms, and other general information about the canyon and region. The canyon offers a number of well-marked hiking and mountain bike trails. The center is closed in the off-season.

Thunder Mountain Trailhead 37.743687739616504, -112.32929547815081

Located at the west entrance of Red Canyon. This is the starting point for the Thunder Mountain Trail and the paved Canyon Bike trail that parallels Highway 12 to the Bryce Canyon exit and continues to Inspiration Point. 

Panguitch Panguitch, UT, USA

Settled in 1882, located on Utah Heritage Highway 89, 7 miles north of the junction with Scenic Byway 12 and is the eastern gateway to Highway 143 Patchwork Parkway National Scenic Byway. This is an ice cream stop on my tours. Check out Gem Theatre Reel Bites Cafe. 

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