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)