SCENIC DRIVES IN CAPITOL REEF
Hey there, fellow travelers! Are you ready for some unforgettable adventures in Utah’s stunning landscapes? We’ve got some fantastic routes and scenic byways that will leave you in awe of Mother Nature’s wonders. So, hop in your vehicle and get ready for an exciting journey!
CATHEDRAL VALLEY, TORREY
If you’re looking for even more adventure, head to Torrey, where you can access the captivating Cathedral Valley. You’ll be immersed in towering monoliths and breathtaking panoramic vistas. The 58-mile loop will take you through the wild wilderness of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Capitol Reef National Park, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. While most of the road is paved and well-maintained, keep in mind that it can get muddy and impassable during wet conditions. So, make sure your tank is full and your vehicle is ready for this exciting journey. Don’t forget to check for current road and weather conditions at the visitor center before you set off.
LOOP THE FOLD
For a captivating loop journey, try the “Loop the Fold” tour. Start in Torrey, driving east through Capitol Reef National Park on Highway 24. Then, take a right turn onto Notom/Bullfrog Road, offering incredible views of the water pocket fold and the Henry Mountains. Follow the signs for the Burr Trail switchbacks and Boulder, where you’ll experience the awe-inspiring canyon country of Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument. Afterward, climb up to an elevation of 9400 feet above sea level as you drive over Boulder Mountain, passing through Grover before ending your trip back in Torrey. This drive covers about 120 miles, so you’ll want to dedicate some time to truly enjoy the journey.
FISHLAKE SCENIC BYWAY
For a mountain and meadow adventure, Fishlake Scenic Byway is the way to go! This route will lead you through the Fishlake National Forest, surrounded by stunning high mountain aspen and abundant wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, elk, and maybe even some moose. Don’t forget your fishing gear because Fish Lake and Johnson Reservoir are two of the most scenic and popular fishing spots in the state. The byway covers about 60 miles, and you’ll find resorts, day-use areas, and campgrounds along the way. Make sure to appreciate the unique rock monuments built by a local sheepherder over 40 years.
BURR TRAIL LOOP / BURR POINT TRAIL
Let’s start with the Burr Trail Loop and Burr Point Trail. The Burr Point overlook is an absolute gem, offering breathtaking views of the 1,400-foot deep Dirty Devil River Canyon. Don’t worry; this remote and captivating place is easily accessible with your vehicle (though RVs might encounter some difficulty). Head south from historic Hanksville on Utah 95, also known as the Bicentennial Highway. At mile marker 15.5, make a left-hand turn onto Burr Point Road, a well-maintained dirt road. Follow the signs for about 11 miles until you reach the looped dead end. This is a great spot for a picnic lunch with numerous parking areas. Remember, the roads may become impassable during bad weather, so check the conditions before your trip.
NORTH SLOPE ROAD
Are you seeking more scenic wonders? Don’t miss the North Slope Road, a maintained gravel track that takes you up the northeast shoulder of Boulder Mountain. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the chance to spot some wildlife like mule deer and yellow-bellied marmots. This road is approximately seven miles long and should be passable with a regular passenger car, but keep an eye on road conditions during inclement weather.
If you’re traveling on Highway 12 over Boulder Mountain, make sure to stop at the many overlooks along the way. Our personal favorite is the Larb Hollow overlook, offering mesmerizing views of Capitol Reef and even stretching all the way to Moab when the weather is clear. It’s a view you won’t forget!
Looking for a true high-country adventure? The Aquarius Plateau is the perfect escape from the summer heat. This route is a real treat, taking you up and over the plateau with stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The road is well-maintained, but watch out for some rough washboard sections. Starting in Bicknell, head south on the Scenic Backways road, which becomes Forest Rd 154 to Escalante. From here, you can continue south to Boulder via Hell’s Backbone Road or head into Escalante directly. This drive is approximately 46 to 58 miles, so plan for a good half day to a full day of enjoyment.
HOGAN PASS OVERLOOK
Another must-see is the Hogan Pass Overlook, where you’ll experience one of Utah’s greatest scenic vistas. Located at a lofty 9,200 feet above sea level, this overlook provides breathtaking views of Capitol Reef National Park’s Cathedral Valley and the distant Henry Mountains. It’s the perfect spot for a roadside picnic or wildlife viewing. Keep an eye out for deer and elk; your binoculars or spotting scope will come in handy!
We hope you’re as excited as we are about these incredible adventures. So, pack your essentials, prepare your vehicle, and get ready to make some fantastic memories in the heart of Utah’s nature. Enjoy the journey and the spectacular views that await you!