Best Scenic Route in Utah's Bryce Canyon Country

These little Utah towns along Hwy. 12 make for a unique vacation.
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The Amphitheater in Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Just 20 minutes from Bryce Canyon National Park lies a string of towns like Panguitch, Escalante and Boulder that make for a great base to explore Utah’s red-rock country.

Start your morning at the Wanderlust Cowgirl Coffee in Panguitch where you can kickstart the day with a fresh-baked pastry or kolache paired with a cold brew, cappuccino, smoothie or chai latte. Or head to Rise & Shine Bakery located in a historic red brick house where you’ll find breakfast and lunch specials and savory empanadas, cinnamon rolls and pies.

Then hit the road and take Hwy 12, which connects Bryce Canyon National Park to Capitol Reef National Park. Just 25 minutes down the road, you’ll reach Bryce Canyon National Park. After exploring it, continue east where you’ll discover uncrowded natural attractions, such as Kodachrome Basin State Park, that locals argue would be national parks if they were located in any other state.

“There’s a different view around every corner from sandstone red rocks to forests,” says Falyn Owens, executive director of Garfield County Office of Tourism. “It’s incredible the changes you see on one road.”

The view from Shakespeare Arch Trail in Kodachrome Basin State Park in Utah

The view from Shakespeare Arch Trail in Kodachrome Basin State Park

Kodachrome Basin State Park is filled with brilliantly colored spires and named by a National Geographic Society expedition in 1948 after the popular color film. It’s 20 miles southeast of Bryce off Hwy. 12. Panorama Trail, which is 3-6 miles, and Shakespeare Arch, an easy 1.7-mile hike, are the most popular and for good reason. You can catch views into Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bryce Canyon National Park from Shakespeare Arch.

From Kodachrome, head down Cottonwood Canyon Road, a graded dirt road, for another 10 miles to the Grosvenor Arch parking lot. It’s actually two sandstone arches that reach 150 feet into the blue sky, and they sit in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Grosvenor Arch in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Grosvenor Arch

After you explore Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, sleep like a star in the Shooting Star RV Resort on Hwy. 12 in Escalante. You can stay in one of nine Airstreams that are decorated to resemble a Hollywood movie star’s dressing trailer. Think Marilyn Monroe's trailer while she filmed Some Like It Hot.

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