Utah Highway 12, A Scenic Byway
November 2, 2016
On November 2, we had driven from Moab back up to Interstate 70 and westward to the junction of Utah 24. That highway took us into Capitol Reef National Park which we explored.
Panorama Point had certainly given us a spectacular farewell to Capitol Reef. We were now going to follow Hwy 24 a little further west to Torrey to take Hwy 12 southward. You can see that road curving away from us at right above, and if you look closely, you can see that it then turns leftward and proceeds across the valley - I think I can follow it about 2/3 of the way across the valley.
We rode on open roads like this for about 10 minutes to get to this point, which was approaching Torrey. We noted only a few houses at Torrey, but there was a service station, so we decided to get gas, having not seen any service stations in many miles. I pumped gas and the pump didn't print a ticket, so I went to the door to get a receipt. The place was locked up tight - but at least I was able to get gas.
We took Hwy 12 southward from Torrey, and started climbing into forested mountains. About 30 minutes down the road we started getting beautiful vistas on the left side of the road, including an enchanting blue lake. This was the view we got of the scene from the Larb Hollow Overlook, but there is no way that a single photo can do it justice. It was truly one of the most beautiful vistas I have ever seen.
We drove on about 15 minutes, climbing steadily, and there was a change from evergreen forest to groves of aspen scattered on the mountains. It would have been nice to see them with their fall colors on, but we were a few weeks too late.
As I recall, the highway climbed to over 10,000 ft, and that was above the tree line for these trees at least. We got some wide open views of the mountains to the east of us. You can see the groves of aspens in the distance below us.
This was my favorite shot for showing the multiple levels of the road as it wound through these rock formations. We were on the road high above. This was 45 minutes past Boulder. It was another hour to Cannonville, so I think this was some distance past Escalante.
This is the picture of Cannonville included in the 1949 National Geographic article which discusses their naming of Kodachrome Basin and their exploration of the area, including Chimney Rock.
After our visit to Kodachrome Basin State Park we headed north and got some views of the Kodachrome approach road that we hadn't seen when we came in because it was too dark. We passed through Cannonville and headed northward on Hwy 12 again.
After passing through the town of Tropic just north of Cannonville, we started encountering formations reminiscent of Bryce Canyon. At some point along Hwy 12 we actually passed into Bryce Canyon National Park territory, but I don't recall seeing any sign to that effect. It was just a short distance to the official entrance to the National Park.
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