Scenic Byway 12

The All American Road

On our last morning in Bryce I allowed myself a little indulgence and slept in late (read 7:00am). We had a relaxed and hearty breakfast at the hotel before getting back on the road and on to our next destination. Capitol Reef here we come! The journey from Bryce to Capitol Reef is one of the most beautiful scenic routes in the US. It’s Utah’s All-American Road. 115 mile drive along Scenic Byway 12 that takes you through many picturesque towns and the vast landscape of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. I wanted to give us enough time to enjoy the many stops awaiting us on our next leg of the trip. We were back on the road by 9:30am.


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At the Escalante Visitor Center the boys were able to see dinosaur fossils and learn about how the dinosaurs roamed and ruled the this area  millions of years ago.





We stopped at this really cute grocery store located in one of the historic buildings on Main Street. Escalante Mercantile and Natural Grocery had an awesome selection of natural foods, organic fresh fruits and vegetables and wonderful chocolate treats! We stocked up on sandwiches and fresh fruits and decided to have a picnic lunch at Escalante Petrified Forest.

When we arrived at the park, the ranger notified us that there was a heat advisory and he was considering closing the trails until it cooled off. He said it was too dangerous for the kids to attempt a hike, so instead we explored what we could of the park without getting too far into a trail.  The kids were still able to see a giant petrified tree and many specimens of colorful petrified wood.  Some say the fossilized wood is haunted and removing a piece will bring you nothing but bad luck. There’s actually a display at the entrance of the park filled with dozens of letters and returned stolen pieces of wood written by people apologizing for taking the fossil and hoping their luck will change once returned. One person wrote that after taking a piece from a recent visit, he’d had 3 accidents, a broken collar bone and his house caught fire. Whether you believe in the legend or not, I made sure the kiddos didn’t ‘accidentally’ walk away with a piece of petrified wood.


IMG_4613I’m guessing because of the intense heat, the crowds stayed away. There were no crowds to deal with and the park was relatively quiet. Always a bonus. We set up our picnic by the Wide Hollow Reservoir located right at the entrance of the park. The gorgeous blues and greens of the water was a perfect backdrop for an afternoon picnic. If I had known how beautiful and inviting this water was, I’d have my bathing suit ready. Dipping our toes in the water felt sooo good and refreshing!






We continue on. Head of the Rocks Overlook provides expansive views out across the Escalante Canyons where colorful slickrock stretches almost as far as the eye can see. Some 168 million years ago, these striated cream-and-red sandstone formations were sand dunes. You can see the meandering path of Scenic Byway 12 below. In the distance one can see Boulder Mountain, the Henry Mountains, and Navajo Mountain on the Utah/Arizona border.

There’s so much history here. I can’t imagine how people maneuvered the area before the roads were built. This was one of the last areas of the USA to be mapped and you get a real sense of how remote and inhospitable it must have felt before the road was built.


IMG_4646The boys were having some fun at the overlook!


We came across the Kiva Koffee House situated in the middle of Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument. It was literally in the middle of nowhere. A welcomed surprise as we had driven a really long stretch and I was ready for a great cup of coffee and the boys were ready for a yummy sweet treat. This location is spectacular! Best views of any coffee shop I’ve ever been to. There is also a Kiva Kottage available to rent just below the cafe. The cottage looked very charming and looked like a perfect place to completely disconnect and get away from it all.


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Run cows. Run. I so wanted to set you free lovies.


We stopped in the very scenic town of Boulder and contemplated taking the Burr Trail to Capitol Reef. It is one of the most scenic back trails in the country, but also a dangerous one if you don’t have a four-wheel drive vehicle. Last thing we wanted was to get a flat or get stuck in a remote location with zero cell service.
We watched as tripped out jeeps and trucks headed deep into the trail. I so wanted to follow, but we turned around and made promises to come back one day with our own tripped-out jeep.




From Boulder we drove on through Dixie National Forest. A stunning drive through the lush landscape of this gorgeous forest. The air was thin, cool and crisp. The temperature dropped at least 15 degrees and it was hard to believe that just a few hours ago we were in a hot dry desert. We stopped at one of the overlooks to stretch our legs and take in the gorgeous colors of the landscape below. Then it was back in the car for the final stretch of the day’s drive.


IMG_4729We arrived at the Capitol Reef Resort late in the afternoon. Our home base for the night. We had a great room overlooking the red cliffs and were happily surprised to see a horIMG_4728se ranch right next to the hotel.

The kids were excited about the pool but I was just happy to finally be able to relax after a long day of exploring. I wouldn’t call this hotel a ‘resort’. More like a motel, but for the price I didn’t expect much and really you can’t beat the view, location and the value.

Food choices were limited and a challenge for me as usual. We had a bar (off limits with kids) and a restaurant across the street. It would have to do as my husband had no desire to get back in the car to drive around aimlessly looking for a better restaurant.

The restaurant had fantastic views and we were treated to a show of hummingbirds.DSCF8975colorDSCF8980



After dinner we headed back to the hotel where I took some time to explore the property while the boys took advantage of the pool. Everyone was beat, so after the kids bathed and tucked in bed I was finally able to kick back with a glass of wine and enjoy some down time with my husband. The stars were dazzling!


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