‘The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.’-Sir Richard Burton
When I was talking to my brother about my trip, he said that I had to take this road he had heard about that was supposedly the most beautiful road in the United States. A quick google search led to the specific route, Scenic Route (SR) 12. Luckily for me, it linked two places I was already planning on going, Bryce Canyon and Capital Reef National Parks. Because I wanted to make sure I started from the very beginning (a very good place to start…sorry, I couldn’t resist…The Sound of Music is one of my favorite films),from Cedar Breaks National Monument, I looked on my handy Apple maps and typed SR-12. Then I selected the westernmost point, Panguitch, Utah. SR-12 will take you to Bryce, so even if you do not do the whole 123 mile stretch, you will still get a snapshot of the beauty ahead.
I do not say this lightly, as I have seen some of the most beautiful spots in the world, but they are not kidding saying SR-12 is the most beautiful road in America, it may be the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen! As I have mentioned before, I am not the most religious person but I felt that I was passing through something much bigger than myself. And just when you think you’ve seen the best bits, usually after a (short) period of flat and beige, you literally take a curve and the world opens up. It is truly indescribable.
A large portion of SR-12 is Escalante National Monument, famous for the Grand Staircase. It is stunning. That wind and rain created these incredible rock formations, I just cannot even wrap my head around it. As I was just passing through, I did not do any hiking but you can explore various spots in the area and it is something I would love to do (but not solo, so Jake Gyllenhaal, if your reading this and up for an adventure, I’m available)!
A large portion of the road is very curvy and I was glad to not be traveling in an RV or have a trailer. It culminates in the Hogsback, a curvy road that is on the top of a massive boulder. It is a two lane road and a sheer drop on either side. Next time, I would like to be the passenger to fully appreciate the view versus my driving state of ‘OMG, there is no room for error and thank god I am on this road by myself!’ This is the section that has also given SR-12 the reputation as being terrifying. It was but well worth it!
There are a few small towns along the way, I stopped in Escalante (the town) to get gas, use the loo, got a postcard for my godson (I send him postcards from everywhere I go), and a snack. I could have made the whole trip on a tank of gas, but that is hindsight, as I said in a previous post, I tried to not let it get less than half full because you really don’t know when you’ll see a service station again. Escalante is also a gateway to a lot of the adventuring, so its a great base if you want to explore the area.
As you get closer to Torrey, Utah, the end of the road (literally), you enter into more agricultural areas. There are lots of signs for areas of free range cattle, so be careful as I encountered them crossing the road and more than a few just chillin’ on the side of the road. The greenery was short lived as the road into Torrey was full of red! The town, and I use that term loosely as about 200 people live there, is the closest to Capital Reef National Park, my next stop and blog post!
As noted, the road itself is about 123 miles long. It’s easy to navigate as you just stay on it. Being said, you can only go so fast on those canyon roads. The trip took most of the afternoon/early evening. The slowness provides you with ample opportunity to simple absorb nature. I had no where to be, so it allowed me to stay in the moment. It was a nice pause from my hectic schedule as there was nothing to do but enjoy the surroundings (and pray I don’t fall off the cliff, lol).
I planned my day perfectly because I arrived at the end of the road as the sun was setting over the Escalante. This capped one of the best days of my life and I owe a great deal of gratitude to my brother, although he did not pick up the sarcasm when I text (with multiple photos) that he gave terrible travel advice, ha! In all seriousness, thank you, B, for everything.