Drive an Epic Byway (this Weekend)State Route 12 has always had the scenery part covered (the 124-mile road connects Capitol Reef National Park with Bryce Canyon National Park). But in recent years—as innovative restaurants have cropped up alongside it—the byway has become nothing less than the definitive Four Corners road trip.
Day 1At Capitol Reef National Park, hike the 3.5-mile Chimney Rock Loop to the path’s namesake monolith, then motor 20 miles west to Torrey. The Torrey Schoolhouse Bed & Breakfast, your night’s lodging, is a refurbished 1914 schoolhouse where—legend has it—Butch Cassidy himself attended a dance (doubles from $110; torreyschoolhouse.com). Nearby Café Diablo serves trip-worthy dishes like chipotle-rum-molasses-roasted pork ribs on a patio above the canyons (cafediablo.com).
Day 2The 36 miles to Boulder, Utah, might seem short, but set aside the entire day for the road’s hoodoo views and a hike up Boulder Mountain. Boulder itself is a blip of a town, but it hosts the unmissable Zagat-rated Hell’s Backbone Grill, an organic, Buddhist enclave that dishes up regional foods like duck breast with wild rose hip–sage cream sauce (hellsbackbonegrill.com). Boulder Mountain Lodge, meanwhile, has a communal fire pit and yoga mats for hire (doubles from $97; boulder-utah.com).
Day 3Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument is just 29 miles from Boulder. Check in to a cabin at Escalante Outfitters, a one-stop shop that vends gear, pizza, and beer (doubles from $45; escalanteoutfitters.com). Rent a bike there ($35 a day) and gather intel on the slickrock and forested singletrack trails.
Day 4After 34 miles of highway, take the seven-mile jaunt south of Cannonville to Kodachrome Basin State Park, where enormous cones of sand mark petrified geysers. It’s another 13 miles on Highway 12 to Bryce Canyon: a fitting finale. The tough eight-mile hike on the seldom frequented Fairyland Loop Trail delivers your own private hoodoo sculpture gallery.
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