If you are visiting Southern Utah from out of state, you are likely  on your way to or from Zions, Arches National Park, Lake Powell, Snow Canyon, or the Grand Canyon.

Chances are you’ve been impressed with the scenery on well-traveled I-15 or I-89.

But, I’m going to share a little secret that even a lot of St. George locals don’t know about:

Scenic Utah Highway 12.

I don’t even think I need to say any more. Just trust me on this one. It’s stunningly beautiful! That’s right, the little used Utah hwy 12 is spectacular.

Route 12 connects Bryce Canyon National Park from the south to Capitol Reef at the northern end

(see map towards bottom of article).

The two-lane highway jams a lot of great landscapes into a 124-mile journey.  You’ll see slot canyons, Navajo sandstone formations, lots of red-rock bluffs, and purple sage.  You’ll even pass through small, quaint, funky towns like Boulder, UT and Torrey, UT which has 3 tiny art galleries.

Roughly in the middle of Route 12 is the town of Escalante, UT.  Situated at the edge of the Grand Staircase is Escalante National Monument Park, which has more than a million acres of canyons. You’ll for sure want to check this out!

Hotels along Highway 12 aren’t the most reliable, as you’d expect, with towns that act as outposts for nearby ranchers–even to this day.  So, we suggest you either start or end your journey with a stay at St. George Condo Rentals. We’ll make sure you’re taken care of.

Route 12 Tips:

  • Spring and fall are the best time to drive Highway 12.  Summers can get hot and dry while winters can be cold-at least for us locals! If you’re coming from Canada it may be a different story.
  • Make sure you take a small detour on the 5.5 mile Peek-A-Boo Loop Trial in Bryce Canyon.
  • Robber’s Roost Books in Torrey, UT has some unique offerings hand-made by the local artists.
  • The Torrey Gallery shows off the local artist’s work, but the prices may be more than you expect.

Restaurants to Try Along Highway 12:

  • Hell’s Backbone Grill in Boulder, UT places items on the menu based on what is ripe in their gardens.  Talk about organic!  Make sure you buy some of their homemade chili powder to take home with you.
  • Cafe Diablo in Torrey, UT is a nice scene with their flower garden and western dishes using rattlesnake.

The combination of  beautiful unique scenery, open space, and solitude while driving Highway 12 will help clear your head of whatever life stresses nag at you.  So don’t be scared to venture off of busy I-15 or I-89, otherwise you’ll miss some amazing landscape on a sleepy Utah drive.

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