by Lani Penney, Cedar City • Brian Head Tourism Bureau
It is no secret that Utah is full of some of the most beautiful wonders of the world. Being the home of The Mighty Five® national parks, 43 state parks, seven national monuments, and millions of acres of national forest land, the outdoor experiences are endless. While the geographic size of Utah is quite large, traveling the state may seem intimidating. The astonishing landscape scenery surrounding the drive results in time on the road passing very quickly.
Utah is fortunate enough to contain a whopping 27 state and national scenic byways, with a majority of them in southern Utah. These scenic byways are destinations in and of themselves. A road trip spent with the family creates the perfect opportunity to get outside and embrace this beautiful world with live in, all with the ones you love. Here is just a sample of scenic adventure ideas to add to your bucket list.
Drive the All American Highway – Scenic Byway 12, Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef
Also known as an All American Highway, Scenic Byway 12 is commonly referred to as one of the most beautiful byways in North America. This beautiful 124-mile route winds through Dixie National Forest, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, over Boulder Mountain, and ends at Scenic Byway 24, west of Capitol Reef National Park. Take a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park and enjoy the beautiful drive along the way.
Explore the Patchwork Parkway – Scenic Byway 143, Parowan to Panguitch, Utah
During the winter storm of 1864, Mormon pioneers painstakingly traversed this unforgettable mountain road by throwing down handmade quilts onto the snow to make their way from Panguitch to Parowan. Like the blocks of a quilt, the 48-mile Patchwork Parkway passes through many diverse landscapes and geological wonders bound together making for an amazing road trip. Stop at the interpretive sites to learn more about the area’s Mormon pioneer heritage.
Utah’s Heritage Highway – Scenic Highway 89, Grand Canyon to Bryce Canyon, Utah
Scenic Highway 89 through Bryce Canyon Country is part of Utah Heritage Highway 89. This 150-mile road passes through the western section of Bryce Canyon Country from north to south and connects travelers on the south side to Zion National Park and the north rim of the Grand Canyon. This section of Utah Heritage Highway 89 is an adventure through scenic beauty and living history. Extending 500 miles from Idaho to Arizona, Highway 89 brings you through the heart of unique culture, architecture, history, and scenery. The communities of Panguitch and Hatch, Utah are part of what is known as the Headwaters section of the National Mormon Pioneer Heritage Area.
House Rock Valley Road to White Pocket – Kanab, Utah
White Pocket area on the Paria Plateau in northern Arizona contains swirling red and white rock that creates views like no other. Tourists from all over the world flock to the area with hopes of visiting the infamous Wave in the North Coyote Buttes. White Pocket area, located right in the shadows to the east of the Wave is very impressive as well, without as much exposure. Keep in mind that this 35-mile drive is quite remote, and does require 4-wheel drive to access the area, so plan accordingly!
Rugged Wilderness – Cottonwood Canyon Road, Kanab, Utah
Go ahead and top off your tank: this 47-mile adventurous drive stretches from Kanab to the aptly named Kodachrome Basin up north. You’ll wind through a beautifully stark landscape on an unpaved road, rolling through the desert oasis of Paria River Valley. Be sure to watch the forecast for rain and mud, as it can get slick and messy.
Cedar Breaks National Monument – Scenic Byways 14, 148, and 143, Cedar City, Utah
Scenic byways are officially designated highways that weave through vast landscapes connecting towns, national parks, monuments, and forests along the way. Cedar City is so fortunate to have not only one, but THREE scenic byways that collaborate into an astonishing scenic drive everyone should experience. Be sure to stop at Cedar Breaks National Monument along the way for breathtaking views and perfect picture potential.
Snow Canyon State Park Day Trip – Cedar City to St. George, Utah
Native to the Anasazi Indians, and discovered by the Mormon pioneers in the 1850s, Snow Canyon State Park is filled with history. Hollywood films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Electric Horseman, and Jerimiah Johnson used this location. This 61-mile drive starting west on Highway 56 in Cedar City, passing Old Iron Town, and entering onto Highway 18 near Enterprise is full of hidden treasures and incredible views.
For additional information and ideas of things to do in the area, log onto www.visitcedarcity.com or www.parks100.com or call (435) 586-5124.