Utah Highway 12

Escalante Travel Blog

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View of Capitol Reef from Hiway 12 atop Dixie Nat'l Forest

We hit the jackpot this time.  Highway 12 is one of the most scenic roads in the country, and we didn't even know it!!  After we filled up in Hanksville at the Hollow Mountain, we entered Capitol Reef National Park.  It has to be the most out-of-the-way park in the entire country.  Mile after mile of hot pavement, but there were also beautiful painted sand walls and unusual rock formations.  By the time we turned onto Highway 12, we were ready for some relief from the heat.  

The road gradually climbed up into the mountains of Dixie National Forest.  We were greeted with the smell of Christmas trees from the stands of ponderosa pines as well as much cooler temperatures.

Mule deer in Dixie Nat'l Forest
  I had to beg and plead for Jerry to stop so I could put on my jacket.  The cold wasn't just my imagination; I saw Randy fumbling through his trailer for his jacket!  That's a first!!  We had to laugh at the fact that we went from HOT to COLD in just a matter of minutes.  Now that is something you really can't experience on the inside of an automobile.

The view from the mountaintop was just incredible.   Heat was rising from the desert floor far, far below us, causing a haze over the landscape.  I  knew from experience that the very best time to take photographs would have been at sunrise, but that just wasn't possible.  We had to be satisfied with our "hazy" snapshots, knowing that the picture in our mind was perfectly clear.

View from Highway 12

When we got to the top of the mountain, there was a paved pull-out.  We found ourselves very alone.  It was nice.  No crowds of people; no small children running or babies squalling.  There were three or four mule deer in the green field beside the parking lot.  They watched us and we watched them for some time, until they decided to walk further into the forest and out of our sight.

By this time the sun was starting to fall lower in the sky.  The familiar long shadows were falling over the road and we knew it was time to hurry along.  We still had about a two-hour ride to Bryce Canyon on a very twisty-turny road and we really wanted to get checked in before dark.  It was "laundry" night.  Whoopee!  That is one of the drawbacks of motorcycle travel ~ not enough room in the trunk!  But that's okay.  I wouldn't trade it for a chauffeured Mercedes!

walterman9999 says:
Dixie N.F., Escalante Dist. 435-826-5499
Posted on: Dec 16, 2013
walterman9999 says:
Dixie N. F., Escalante Dist.
Good news, free back country camping in Utah 12 North of Boulder in the mountains is still alive and well.
Posted on: Dec 16, 2013
walterman9999 says:
Boulder free camping (not in winter, great in summer)
First, my compliments to the author of this blog. Go north from Boulder on Utah 12 and enter the Dixie Nat. Forest. There are clearly marked fee camping and picnic areas and they are worth the fee. Any unmarked road or trail taking you maybe 50 feet or more from the paved road is your own privite free camp. There is not much traffic on this road at night. There are nice aspen or ponderosa pine forests to camp in. No camping on the high paved overlooks, but they give you a clear line of site halfway across the state.
Posted on: Dec 14, 2013
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View of Capitol Reef from Hiway 12…
View of Capitol Reef from Hiway 1…
Mule deer in Dixie Natl Forest
Mule deer in Dixie Nat'l Forest
View from Highway 12
View from Highway 12
Escalante
photo by: walterman9999