4 Absolutely Beautiful Scenic Drives in Utah that You Have to Check Out-Panergy
Best Scenic Drives In Utah
Below you’ll find a map to show you where each scenic drive is in Utah.
Simply click on the route within the map to see which is which, then read on below for all the details about each one!
1) Scenic Byway 12: An All-American Road
This is by far my favorite scenic drive in Utah!
The drive is about 123 miles through some of the most spectacular, unique, and diverse landscapes that this country has to offer.
Sometimes referred to as “A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway”, this drive will have you stopping at scenic overlooks, driving under red rock arches, marveling at the red and white sandstone landscape, and saying “wow” about 10 million times.
Scenic Byway 12 begins (or ends) in Panguitch, Utah. Soon after the drive starts, you’ll pass by the turn-off to Bryce Canyon National Park - a great detour to see a large amphitheater of hoodoos!
The drive ends in Torrey, Utah right outside of Capitol Reef National Park.
The drive can be done in either direction. I’ve driven it both ways and don’t have a preference. It’s spectacular either way!
The road is open year-round, but after major winter storms, some sections might be impassible until plowed. In addition, ice and snow can make some of the drive pretty scary in the colder months, so I would avoid going in winter conditions.
The Fall or Spring are my favorite times to make the drive.
There are no fees to drive on Scenic Byway 12, but some of the attractions along the way like the state parks do have entrance fees.
Pets are allowed, but dogs must be on a leash on the trails and at most of the view areas.
It will take about 3 hours to do the drive if you’re just driving, but I would plan for it to take longer with stops at viewpoints, state parks, or hikes along the way.
Things to Do Along the Way:
Grand Staricase-Escalante National Monument - plenty of slot canyon hikes and dispersed camping options
Lower Calf Creek Falls Hike - beautiful day hike to a 126-ft waterfall in the desert
Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
Kodachrome Basin State Park
Escalante River Trail Backpacking - A 15-mile backpacking trip with natural arches, cliff dwellings, pictographs, and 1,000 ft canyon walls
Capitol Reef National Park - The least crowded (but seriously beautiful) national park in Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park - See a huge amphitheater of red rock hoodoos at this popular national park
Places to Eat or Stay:
You’ll have a lot of options for lodging and eating along the drive in the towns of Escalante, Boulder, Torrey, and Bryce Canyon.
There are gas stations at the start and end of the drive, as well as in the town of Escalante, which is roughly at the halfway point.
Below are some popular places to eat:
Kiva Koffeehouse - they also provide lodging options with incredible views! Not open year-round, so check hours before arrival.
Hell’s Backbone Grill and Farm - organic, locally produced, seasonal cuisine, not open year-round
Burr Trail Outpost - a good place to stop and get a burger after a hike!
Mimi’s Bakery and Deli - sandwiches and baked goods
Mirror Lake scenic drive in the Uinta Mountains.
2) Mirror Lake Scenic Byway
With its close proximity to Salt Lake City, epic mountain and lake views, and popping foliage in the fall, it’s not a surprise that this is one of the most popular mountain drives in Utah!
The 42-mile Mirror Lake scenic drive (also known as state route 150), will take you into the Uinta mountains.
The Uinta mountain range is unique in that it’s one of the few mountain ranges in North America to run from east to west instead of north to south.
Fees: $6 for a 3-day pass, America the Beautiful Passes are honored, just display it on your dash
The road is typically open from late May through October. The Mirror Lake Highway closure occurs when the snow is too deep to plow.
The drive begins in Kamas, Utah, and ends at the Wyoming border. It can be driven in either direction.
If coming from Salt Lake City, I like to start in Kamas, then drive as far as I want towards the Wyoming border until I turn around and drive home the way I came. It’s fun to see the drive from both directions. You notice different things on the way back.
The drive peaks out at Bald Mountain Pass at 10,715 feet!
There are many places to stop along the way at overlooks, picnic areas, lakes, and hiking trails.
Things to do Along the Way:
have a picnic at a lake or overlook
paddle around Mirror Lake
go fishing in one of the many lakes you pass along the drive
hike the Bald Mountain Trail
camp at one of the campgrounds
Places to Eat or Stay:
There are no lodges or facilities along the drive.
Make sure you have plenty of food, gas, and water for the day. Restaurants and gas can be found in Kamas, Utah
Just as you start the drive leaving the town of Kamas, you’ll pass the Samak Smokehouse. I love stopping in the shop to buy their famous beef jerky and get a coffee for the drive!
Summer essential equipment：