Do you know that Utah has 6 National Parks, is the gateway to 5 other National Parks, has 7 National Monuments (areas of protected natural beauty similar to parks but without all the park infrastructure), and 6 National Forests?! Check it out for yourself. It makes my head explode when I fully grasp everything that is here.
And then there are the Scenic Byways, many running near and through these parks, monuments and forests. Utah has 8 National Scenic Byways and 21 (!!) State Scenic Byways. I've seen a few and they are are incredible drives.
Last week we drove Scenic Byway Highway 12. You pick up Rt 14 off of Interstate 15 near Cedar City (north of St. George), and head east over mountains and through the Dixie National Forest. You can spot Zion National Park from the back. Then you take Rt 89 N to reach Rt 12 East. Rt 12 takes you through parts of Bryce Canyon National Park, then on through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, one of the most amazing places I've seen. (Thank you President Clinton for protecting this area, giving it Monument status back in 1996.) From there you head north and past the town of Boulder and over beautiful mountains to the town of Torrey at which point you can head east to the Capitol Reef National Park and on to more parks, or north back to Salt Lake City.
Here are just a few photos from one small stretch - the Boulder to Torrey portion of this beautiful drive.
|Cattle herding the free ranging cattle in the mountains between Boulder and Torrey.|
|Vista from the top of the mountains.|
|This stretch of highway was the last one, completed in the 1970s.|
|The mountains are full of pines and then aspens at the top.|
|The other side of the mountains.|