After our terrific visits to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks we meandered our way down the world-famous Scenic Byway 12, Utah. We had read that this was one of the most beautiful stretches of road in Utah and the US for that manner. It did not disappoint, the concentration of amazing scenery was awesome. There is red sandstone cliffs, rock formations, huge valley vistas, deep river canyons and gorges, mountain ranges, green pine forests, cactus, giant boulders,etc. Much of it visible right from the highway as you drive along. The road is windy in places and has several steep grades but is was in good condition and had plenty of pull-outs. Which is great because the scenery makes you want to constantly pull over and admire it.
Kodachrome Basin State Park
Our first RV site along the way was located a short distance from Highway 12 in Kodachrome Basin State Park. This was one of the most picturesque State Park campgrounds I have every stayed in! The sites were a decent size and tucked in a half circle canyon with great views from pretty well every site.
Short video clip I took showing the overview of the campground
The scenery is usual here, dominated by 67 monolithic stone spires called sedimentary pipes. They accentuate multi-hued sandstone layers revealing 180 million years of geologic time. The color and beauty found here prompted a 1948 National Geographic Society expedition to name the area Kodachrome after the popular color film. – http://www.utah.com/stateparks/kodachrome.htm
We camped a couple of days and walked the many trails marked out around the basin. They lead you through the sandstone cliffs and chimney like spires. One trail we really enjoyed was to a sandstone arch. Below you see Anne standing in front of the arch. In the park you can also go on horseback rides and really feel like you’re in an old western. The contrasting colors of the red sandstone, blue sky and green trees really makes the scenery pop, thus the apt name Kodachrome.
On to Capitol Reef National Park
After thoroughly enjoying our stay at Kodachrome we drove further along the byway through some remarkable canyons, gorges and along what they call the The HogsBack. By the way if you’re looking for an excellent resource for stops along the Scenic Byway 12, Utah have a look at this site Byways.org. It’s loaded with good information for your trip.
The Hogsback gets its descriptive name from the narrow section of Scenic Byway 12 that winds along the ridge between Calf Creek and Boulder Creek that reaches the brink of New Home Bench before descending to Haymaker Bench and Calf Creek Recreation Area. From the pullout at The Hogsback you can enjoy the sweeping views of the surrounding sandstone “slickrock” country before continuing on your journey. – http://byways.org
Next we had to climb up and over a large mountain, Boulder Mountain. It had a steady up hill grade for many miles before it peaked near 10,000 feet. The truck struggled a bit during the climb so we had to pull over and let it cool down a bit but Big Blue got us over the hill and down into the town of Torrey, our base to explore Capitol Reef National Park from. We stayed at a small RV park right at the junction of highway 12 and 24 called Wonderland RV Park. Nothing special, but easy in and out pull through sites and close to the National Park.
Capitol Reef is the least visited of the Utah N.P. parks but offers the same spectacular scenery and hiking as the others, with a lot less crowds. There is a ton of back country to explore which can be demanding to reach but the park does have a nice paved road you can drive along and see many highlights. Also some are accessible right from the main highway. Make sure you stop just past the entrance at the Gifford Farm. It’s a historic farm-house museum type complex where they make fresh pies from the fruit grown in the local orchard. Great pies! While in the area try to get out near sunrise or sunset when the mountains and rocks come alive with color. Right off the main highway and a very short hike is a great spot for sunset called Sunset point. Bring your camera you’ll want to get a picture. Here is a link for how to get there.
If you look really close at the cliff photo on the right above you’ll see Anne near the bottom and below she is photographing the canyon.
Off to see the Goblins, Boooooo!
We finished off our tour along Byway 12 at Goblins Valley State Park. They have a real nice campground area and it’s situated very close to where most of the goblins are. The goblins are sandstone formations that have been eroded into all sorts of unique shapes, many resembling animals. You walk down among them. like you’re in a maze. We had a hoot exploring the different ones and even found a goblin that looked like our old Beagle Oscar! May he rest in peace.
My video of the highlights of our travels along Byway 12
Those were our stops as we traveled along the Scenic Byway 12, Utah. We had a great time and met many interesting people. The area was crawling with folks from Europe in rental RV’s. They really enjoy the area and it was nice to meet and chat with them. The whole area is stuffed with things to do and see, we manage very few and plan to return in the future to explore more.
Please enjoy my photo gallery with all our best shots from the tour
If you enjoyed this post please like, tweet,+1 or share it, thanks Ray
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