Scenic Backways By Region
In the central part of the state, drivers of four-wheel-drive, high-clearance vehicles can take on rugged dirt roads traversing ridges and plateaus (White River/Strawberry Road, Skyline Drive) while more casual tourers can explore landscapes of ancient culture and astonishing geology (Nine Mile Canyon, Wedge Overlook/Buckhorn Draw and Temple Mountain/Goblin Valley Road).
In the west and north of Utah, some backways rise and fall with the isolated mountains of the Basin and Range in Utah’s west desert (Silver Island Mountain Loop, Notch Creek) while others climb high into seemingly remote pockets of the mountains of the Wasatch Front, yet offer occasional glimpses back into the populous valley below (Bountiful/Farmington Loop, Willard Peak, Alpine Loop). Other backways push further away from civilization, uncovering hidden oases (Cascade Springs), allowing close glimpses of wildlife (Hardware Ranch, Red Cloud/Dry Fork, and Sheep Creek) or tracking historical routes through valleys and mountain passes (Central Pacific Railroad Trail, Pioneer Memorial and Pony Express Trail).
While many visitors know Southern Utah for The Mighty 5® national parks, as accessed from the stunning scenic byways, well-prepared travelers can seek out more remote areas of the region, uncovering solitude within some of Utah’s most popular destinations. Some backways carve paths within or near the national parks themselves (Cathedral Valley Road and Notom Road/Burr Trail, Needles/Anticline Overlook and Kolob Reservoir). Other backways access unexpected beauty in unique ecosystems or monumental landscapes (Mojave Desert/Joshua Tree Road, Elk Ridge Road) while others still are the best and only ways to see deeply hidden pockets of wild and rugged red rock beauty (Hole in the Rock, Cottonwood Canyon and Johnson Canyon), some of which can only be attempted in specially equipped 4WD vehicles (Lockhart Basin Road).
Scenic Backway Spotlight
What was originally developed as a cattle trail blazed by stockman John Atlantic Burr, the Burr Trail Scenic Backway is now one of the most picturesque drives in Utah.
Cathedral Valley Scenic Backway
Cathedral Valley, in the northern area of Capitol Reef National Park, has some of the most stunning views around.
Central Utah Backway: Beaver Canyon and the Sevier River Valley
Explore valuable information on the Beaver Canyon Scenic Byway and more. Start planning your Utah road trip.
Cottonwood Canyon Road
Pack your camera, water, snacks, maps, and hiking shoes for fun adventure in Cottonwood Canyon.
Pack your sense of adventure and pull out your four-wheel-drive skills to venture down the historical Hole-in-the-Rock Road south of Escalante.
Johnson Canyon Road
One of Southern Utah’s truly great drives, the Johnson Canyon Road stretches north from Highway 89 and provides excellent vantage points of the colorful cliffs for which the Grand Staircase region is particularly known.
Northwest Railroad Trail Expedition
Discover welcoming small towns, Great Basin terrain and railroad history from Snowville to Grouse Creek to Golden Spike to Corinne.
Road Trip: Historical Sites & Wide-Open Space
Discover starkly beautiful landscapes and fascinating history between Eureka and Delta.
Road Trip: West Desert Ramble and the Pony Express
Fairfield to Tooele to Dugway to I-80 through historic towns and desert wilderness.
Scenic Backways of the Grand Staircase
Many trails are accessed by dirt roads that range from good graded roads to unmaintained, rocky, or sandy doubletracks. These backroads not only offer access to trailheads, they also offer tremendous scenic driving potential.
Sheep Creek and Spirit Lake Scenic Backways
The Sheep Creek and Spirit Lake Scenic Backways are a combination of paved and dirt roads that split off from Utah state Route 44 south of Manila and north of Carter Creek within the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. These gorgeous routes will guide you through impressive geological features and to the high country of the Uinta Mountains.
Temple Views and Backcountry Road Trips
About 5 miles east of Sleepy Hollow, watch for the turnoff on the left for Cathedral Valley Scenic Backway. This 56-mile dirt track heads back to the northwest through the northern tip of Capitol Reef and into Cathedral Valley, ending at Fremont Junction on I-70.
The Southwest Explorer
A 100-mile loop tour that combines red rock canyon and dry Mojave Desert scenery.
Thousand Lake Mountain
The funny thing about Thousand Lake Mountain is there aren't actually very many lakes there. But you will find alpine forests, craggy cliffs and panoramic view points.
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.
Type 1 Backways
Alpine Scenic Loop
Brown's Park Road Scenic Backway
Dinosaur/Cedar Overlook Scenic Backway
East Fork of the Sevier Scenic Backway
Johnson Canyon/Alton Amphitheater Scenic Backway
Jones Hole Road Scenic Backway
La Sal Mountain Loop Road Scenic Backway
Mayfield-Ferron Scenic Backway
Needles/Anticline Overlook Road Scenic Backway
Nine Mile Canyon Scenic Backway
Notch Peak Loop Scenic Backway
Pioneer Memorial Backway
Ponderosa/Coral Pink Sand Dunes Scenic Backway
Pony Express Trail Scenic Backway
Smithsonian Butte Scenic Backway
Snow Canyon Road Scenic Backway
The Trail of the Ancients Scenic Backway
Trappers Loop Road Scenic Backway
Wedge Overlook/Buckhorn Draw Scenic Backway
Type 2 Backways
Abajo Loop Scenic Backway
Bountiful/Farmington Loop Scenic Backway
Bull Creek Pass Road Scenic Backway
Burr Trail Scenic Backway
Cascade Springs Scenic Backway
Cathedral Valley Road Scenic Backway
Central Pacific Railroad Trail Scenic Backway
Cottonwood Canyon Road Scenic Backway
Cove Mountain Road
Deep Creek Mountains Scenic Backway
Dry Lakes/Summit Canyon Scenic Backway
Elk Ridge Road Scenic Backway
Gooseberry/Fremont Road Scenic Backway
Griffin Top Road Scenic Backway
Guardsman Pass Road Scenic Backway
Hardware Ranch Road Scenic Backway
Kimberly/Big John Flat Road Scenic Backway
Kolob Reservoir Road Scenic Backway
Middle Canyon Road Scenic Backway
Mojave Desert/Joshua Tree Road Scenic Backway
North Slope Road Scenic Backway
Notom Road Scenic Backway
Paria River Valley Scenic Backway
Posey Lake Road Scenic Backway
Red Cloud/Dry Fork Loop Scenic Backway
Sheep Creek/Spirit Lake Loop Scenic Backway
Skyline Drive Scenic Backway
Smoky Mountain Road Scenic Backway
South Willow Road Scenic Backway
Temple Mountain/Goblin Valley Road Scenic Backway
White River/Strawberry Road Scenic Backway
Willard Peak Road Scenic Backway
Silver Island Mountain Loop Scenic Backway
Type 3 Backways
Broadhead Meadow Road Scenic Backway
Chicken Creek Road Scenic Backway
Hole in the Rock Scenic Backway
Lockhart Basin Road Scenic Backway
Reservation Ridge Scenic Backway
Thousand Lake Mountain Road Scenic Backway
Top 10 Undiscovered Utah Roads
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.
Utah is a hard state to beat when it comes to scenic road trips. Find breathtaking routes and gorgeous backroads in this guide to Utah road trips.
View information for transportation in Utah such as rail, bus, car and flight. Also, find maps, weather details, and road conditions for the state.
Travel Guides & Maps
Let resources such as the Utah Travel Guide and scenic byways maps help you plan your travels to Utah.
Utah's Scenic Byways
In total, Utah’s distinct topography provides the surface for 28 scenic byways, which add up to hundreds of miles of vivid travel experiences wherein the road trip is as memorable as the destination.
West Desert Ramble & The Pony Express
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.
- Camp Floyd State Park Museum
- Fish Springs Wildlife Refuge
- Pony Express National Historic Trail
- Historic Wendover Airfield
A Quick Guide to the Bonneville Salt Flats
Here's everything you need to know to visit and plan for Salt Lake City's nearby Bonneville Salt Flats.
A Van Lifer’s Guide to Responsible Travel in Southern Utah
When Utah’s dirt roads are calling you, it’s time to plan your van life road trip. Here’s what you need to know to travel safely, protect Utah’s rural communities, and help preserve sensitive desert landscapes.
A Visitor's Guide to Zion's Kolob Canyons
In the Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park, you’ll find a scenic wonderland with an adventure for everyone. Learn more about this unforgettable attraction and plan a visit.
Ancient Pictographs, Petroglyphs and Timeless Mysteries
Exploring Horseshoe Canyon isn’t for everyone. First of all, the effort to get there is an adventure in itself, but those efforts make the reward — namely, the chance to see up close some of the most significant pictograph panels in North America — even more noteworthy.
Arrive by Train
Follow author Tim Sullivan and his eight-year-old daughter as they travel by train, bus and bike on a "pilgrimage" to Golden Spike National Historic Site.
Boomer Travel: 76 Hours in Moab
Moab, Utah is a prime destination for Baby Boomer travel. Check out our specially-designed itinerary and plan your visit!
Chasing John Wesley Powell: Six Places to Explore Utah's Green and Colorado Rivers
One hundred and fifty years ago a one-armed Civil War veteran set off with nine mountain men on a scientific expedition to map one of the last blank spaces left on the U.S. map: The Green and Colorado rivers. Much of the river remains wild today. Follow Powell's journey here.
Hole N'' the Rock
Your road trip in Moab might call for a stopover at the famous Hole N” The Rock.
Kiva Koffeehouse is a welcome stop for fresh food and espresso tucked on a hillside down a dirt driveway near milepost 73 on the scenic byway.
Mesa Farm Market
Best local shops and healthy eats near Moab and Capitol Reef. Try the goat cheese!
Moonscapes, Marscapes and More
If you want to know what Mars looks like — then the dramatic terrain of Capitol Reef National Park and the surrounding lands are a good place to start.
Movies Filmed in Utah: Plotting a Cinematic Drive-Through
Follow a Germany-based film enthusiast on an extended road trip to discover the rich history of Utah cinematography.
Reef Walking, Petroglyphs and Bones
Check out the world’s densest concentration of dinosaur bones at Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry and explore other prehistoric wonders around Utah.
Riding the Arapeen OHV Trail of Central Utah
Looking for the best off-roading trails in Utah? You have to try the Arapeen OHV Trail, featuring hundreds of miles of scenic backcountry trails in Central Utah. Start planning now!
Roaming Grand Staircase–Escalante
Ace Kvale is a photographer and guide in Boulder, Utah. Whenever possible, he hikes Utah's Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument with his dog.
San Rafael Swell Throughout the Seasons: 4 Reasons to Visit
From narrow slot canyons to grand sweeping vistas, sandstone plateaus to meandering rivers, San Rafael Country and the San Rafael Swell are home to some of the most spectacular scenery in Utah.
See the Fall Leaves Near Utah's National Parks
Sure, any of Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks are spectacular year round — covered in snow, peppered with spring wildflowers, and baked in sunshine. But find them exponentially special when the changing fall leaves are in juxtaposition to the immaculate red rock cliffs.
Serenity Found in Torrey and Capitol Reef’s Cathedral Valley District
Taking Southern Utah’s remote, less-traveled path in Capitol Reef's Cathedral Valley District to nurture your body, mind and spirit.
The All-American Road: Scenic Byway 12
This is 122.863 miles (to be exact) of pure driving bliss. Welcome to Utah’s Scenic Byway 12, a designated All-American Road.
The Art of Supporting Utah Artists
Here’s a look at six local artists whose work draws upon Utah’s diverse environments as inspiration.
The Story of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
Ancient erosion and modern cinema joined forces to elevate Monument Valley to one of the world's most iconic places to visit — but it's also the sacred home of the Navajo people. Learn more about the history, size and scenes that define the Monument Valley Utah experience.
Touring the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway
Discover dinosaurs in Utah. The Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway is one of the best places to see dinosaurs in Utah.
Utah’s Unexpected Pit Stops
You’re doing it wrong if you think road trip pit stops are boring layovers on your way to more exciting destinations. How many of these hidden gems have you been to? Here are 11 mini-adventures to check off your list next time you’re road-tripping through Utah.
Winter Wonders in Greater Zion
As you’re mapping out your winter trip through southeastern Utah, consider adding the following parks and natural wonders to your itinerary.
Year-round Vibrance on the Nebo Loop Byway
A National Scenic Byway that Enchants at High Elevations, by Road or Trail