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1997 West Vacation - September 13 through 27, Part 5


My 1997 West Vacation - 14 days, 5440 miles.
Day 10 (continued) & 11, Scenic Route 12 (Red Canyon) to Utah-24 (toward I-70)

Scenic Route 12 - September 22

Around 40 miles East of Cedar Breaks, is the Highway 12 Scenic Byway. It's a 120 mile road of some of the most diverse and beautiful country in the country. No exaggeration. On Highway 12, you'll encounter a national monument, 2 national parks, 3 state parks, and dozens of photo opportunities. You can easily spend a week exploring the hostile and amazing areas on or near this road.

I had a day. But I spent a couple more days on this road in 2008, and ate some of the best food, ever.

Scenic Utah-12
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Bryce Canyon National Park - September 22

Bryce Canyon National Park
The hoodoos of Swamp Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park.
Bryce Canyon, *is* a canyon, but Bryce Canyon National Park is several amphitheaters showcasing some of the most amazing rock formations in southern Utah. The original Canyon was named after Ebenezer Bryce around 1875, a Mormon who helped settle Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. Bryce has been a National Park since 1928.

Bryce is one of those places that surprised me back in 1997. It's a beautiful place, someplace where the scenery can certainly be described as spectacular. The Hoodoos (the 'columns' of sandstone) stand in rows like some failed engineering feat, or half carved figures eroded over a millennium. Of course, it's erosion. They get 18 inches of rain here, but it's mostly frost erosion that forms the hoodoos.

This is one of those places I came back to in 2008 specifically so I could take some panoramics.

Bryce Canyon National Park 1
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Bryce Canyon National Park 2
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Scenic Route 12 - September 22

Scenic Utah-12 is sort of a misnomer, since every road that goes through this area is scenic. They are also desolate, and unforgiving. Two hundred years ago, this area would have scared me to death, but today it's someplace I want to go back to...

Scenic Utah-12
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Capitol Reef National Park - September 22 & 23

Capitol Reef would be our 10th National Park Service venue this trip, quite overwhelming when you think about it. 1997 was an odd year, they had quite a lot of rain in the desert. Unfortunately, one of the casualties, was Capitol Reef National Park. The areas around Utah-24 were open, but the park road had been washed away.

So I really only got to see the Waterpocket Fold around Route 24 and Route 12. One day I'll go back to see the rest of the park...

And that was in 2008, when I finally got back here and saw the rest of the park.

I stayed the night in Torrey, Utah.

Capitol Reef National Park
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Utah 24 - September 23

Utah 24 starts up just off I-70 in Central Utah, travels South about 40 miles, then East some 50 miles, then travels Northeast where it meets back up with I-70. It was probably the road you had to take through the mountains until I-70 was built.

Today, it's the road you have to take to get to Capitol Reef National Park, if you're approaching from the East or the West. We took Utah 24 from Capitol Reef to I-70 through the San Rafael Desert, once the bottom of a vast inland sea.

The road was so desolate and deserted, that I stopped in the middle of the road, and took the panoramic below. In January of 2000, that picture got me $50 and a nice hooded sweatshirt as a prize for one of the Top 10 Straight Roads in Car and Driver Magazine. They even spelled my name right. :-)

I also drove this road in 2008, with a stop in Goblin Valley State Park.

Utah 24
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End 1997 West Vacation - Part 5.

Jump to: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

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