There is something truly special about Highway 12 that you begin to feel the moment you arrive at either end of this All-American Road. It's a journey that compels you to linger, whether on a morning hike exploring a slot canyon or over a coffee at the Burr Trail Outpost.

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Larry C. Price sent back hundreds of postcards from Scenic Byway 12. Here are ten of the little details we love about this classic and inspiring road trip through Southern Utah.

Scenic Byway 12 in Detail 

The desert abloom near Scenic Byway 12The setting of Utah's Scenic Byway 12 is the star of this show: the road skirts the perimeter of a vast national monument and Kodachrome Basin, passes through Dixie National Forest, and has two of the nation's best national parks, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef, as bookends

Each of these destinations has plenty to fill up the day. Connecting all these destinations is Scenic Byway 12, a destination unto itself.

Google says this 130ish-mile trip will take about 2 hours and 45 minutes. Ask anyone and they'll tell you to plan on much longer, not only for the road, but for little stop and side trips that cannot be missed.

As one of the nation's top scenic byways — a designated All-American Road — Scenic Byway 12 offers diverse and spectacular views from your windshield unlike anywhere else. Highway 12 is also rich in indigenous and pioneer heritage.

Not only will you find captivating details and unexpected surprises to add depth to the trip, you'll find a supporting cast of characters that fill the journey with great humanity. 

The communities and towns along 12 are each unique in character, separated by miles of startling red rock dreamscapes or breathtaking alpine environments. The access to outdoor adventure goes virtually unparalleled.

Slideshow: 10 Stops on Scenic Byway 12 

 

Cowboy Comforts

Mesquite BBQ and homemade sauce impart must-taste notes of the Old American West in the perfect setting: the whole town of Panguitch is a National Historic Place....

A Rural Welcome

At the western terminus of the All-American Scenic Byway 12 lies the All-American town of Panguitch....

The Spirit of the Old West

Pratt Gates, 83, walks his horses along a street in Escalante. The once remote ranching town is now a gateway to outdoor adventure, but retains its Western ethos....

Kiva Koffeehouse and Kottage

The lands of Grand Staircase-Escalante are infused with ancestral spirits and indigenous mythology, Kiva seamlessly interacts with its space, inviting travelers to participate....

Get Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Spooky Gulch is an adventurous turn down the Hole in the Rock Road off Highway 12, and is a great taste of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument....

Every Overlook a Radically Different Perspective

Plan extra time to pull over and experience the views, like Utah visitors Martyn Williams and Maria Perez, between Boulder and Escalante....

Ancestral Puebloan Heritage

Stop and absorb Boulder Mountain's Native American heritage on display at the Anasazi State Park Museum in Boulder, Utah....

Find Elevation in the Dixie National Forest

Tourists play in the snow at an overlook outside Boulder. Highway 12 features both iconic red rock scenery and alpine splendor....

Torrey Heritage

Established in the 1880s, Torrey is a charming high country town with pioneer ancestry and modern amenities set among the singular landscape of Capitol Reef National Park....

Fine Cheese in a Desert Setting

Mesa Farm Market near Caineville, Utah, produces world-class goat cheese. Though not on Highway 12, Caineville is a natural extension of this road trip....