Burr Trail Road   |  Bristlecone Pine Photo

Utah's Scenic Backways

There’s a faster way. There’s even a smoother road. In some cases, the pavement simply ends, becoming anything from packed gravel to deep ruts. For some, it’s the end of the road. For others, it’s just beginning.

Although just as breathtaking as the state's scenic byways, Utah's 58 scenic backways don’t meet the road standards necessary to be considered a byway – often combining winding explorations with paths known for rough surfaces and extreme grades. On some drives you’ll join fellow travelers who’ve left the main highway behind for more relaxed auto touring. On others you’ll find yourself in solitude on a wild and rugged backcountry, where high-clearance, four-wheel-drive and self-sufficiency are your only guests.

Top 10 Undiscovered Utah Roads Travel Guides & Maps

Scenic Backways By Region

Planning and Preparedness

Plan To Be Self-Sufficient

Backway travel is an adventure to be taken seriously. Visitors will encounter narrow backways, roads in isolated, unpredictable terrain, even roads suitable for any vehicle in good weather but completely impassable in wet or winter conditions. Some are downright dangerous for the unprepared traveler. Plan to be self-sufficient, with water (in summer, a gallon per person per day), food, adequate fuel, a spare tire and tools, protection from weather and camping supplies.

Check Road Conditions

Since many scenic backways travel through remote areas, travelers cannot count on having cell phone service. Where possible, plan ahead to stop at local visitor centers to ask about current road and weather conditions. All travelers, regardless of where they are going, should have a good road map, including detailed topographical maps. At the very least, all travelers should have a Utah Department of Transportation official highway mapLearn more about road conditions.

Road Difficulty Ratings 

Utah’s scenic backways vary widely in their degrees of difficulty, and generally include three types of travel routes:

Type 1: Roads that can accommodate normal touring cars. 
Type 2: Roads that require high-clearance type vehicles. 
Type 3: Roads that require 4-wheel drive vehicles or other specialized vehicles such as dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles (ATV’s), etc.


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Whether you scour Utah's All-American Road or check out the scenic drives leading into our national parks and mountain canyons, the drive to your destination is typically just as beautiful as the destination.

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This itinerary is a three-day adventure along the Pony Express National Historic Trail in Utah's West Desert. Visit Simpson Springs, Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge, Gold Hill and more.

Adventure, Film Tourism, Ghost Towns, History and Heritage, Solitude, Wildlife


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