Thursday, March 17, 2016

Thursday, March 17, 2016 – Bryce National Park, Utah State Route 12, Capitol Reef National Park

Today was a whirl wind of driving and site seeing.  First we went to Bryce National Park. Wow, what magnificent and colorful rock formations. The park was truly breath taking.  If we had the time we would have liked to take some of the hikes through the rock formations.


After leaving the park we had to decide which route we would take to Capitol Reef National Park. The recommended route was over Utah State Route 22 or we could take the less traveled state route 12. The map said it was a “Scenic Byway”. We were very, very happy we took it. Scenic was an understatement.  We traveled through some of the most majestic landscape in the whole state.

We gassed and eat lunch in Escalante. We drove though Boulder and then drove on through the Dixie National Forest. We stopped at a scenic overlook and read about the construction of this part of the highway in the 1930’s through the “Grand Staircase Escalante”. It was called “The Million Dollar Highway”.  And for good reason, the road descended down at a 10% grade out of the mountain thru solid rock chiseled out of the mountain by CCC workers. 

We thought the vistas couldn’t get any better but they did. We passed a small creek called “Calf Creek” and began another ascent up the solid rock cliffs face again. We were literally in shock when we got to the top because we were on the crest of the mountain with straight down drop offs on both sides. The road followed this crest for a mile or more before we were safe again. It was the scariest stretch of road either of us had ever seen before. I felt like I was having a panic attack knowing there was no safe shoulder of the road. There was literally no place to go for safety.  Pam WAS having a panic attack. It was very frightening.  

Back in Dixie National Forest the awesome vistas just continued to come as we descended down from the mountain that was over 9000 feet in elevation. At the “Over Look” we could see a panoramic view of hundreds of thousands of square miles of southern Utah. There were snow covered peaks off in the distance all around us.  We could see all of Capitol Reef National Park from up there too. The views were just magnificent. 

We made it to Capitol Reef National Park with plenty of daylight left to see the whole scenic road inside the park as well as take a 30 minute hike through one of the narrow slot canyons. The canyon was called “Cassidy Canyon” after the famous outlaw Butch Cassidy.  This slot canyon was supposedly the location for his gang’s hide out called “Hole in the Wall”. Again the mountains, cliffs and vistas were breath taking.


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