A classic Triple Threat of three stunning natural parks along Scenic Byway 12 – Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, and Petrified Forest State Park- in addition to the wonders of Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument, provides a visual feast of fantastical rock formations like mesas, buttes, cliffs and canyons in a rich range of reds, ochres and purples along this singularly stunning road.
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument on its own is a fully-absorbing experience by bike or by foot, and offers visitors the optical treat of a grandiose series of natural rock formations known as plateaus which extend south along from Bryce Canyon to the Grand Canyon. The progression of scenery is marked out by distinct colorways layered into the plateaus, which are often referred to as the Pink Cliffs, Grey Cliffs, White Cliffs, Vermillion Cliffs, and Chocolate Cliffs. While only a small part of the entire national park, the Grand Staircase is obviously one of the area’s most famous attractions, and is a natural wonder which cannot be skipped during this uniquely scenic ride.
124 miles of multi-hued landscapes on the GrandStaircase- Escalante National Monument ride are underlaid by a deep treasure trove of Native American history, and the earth itself seems to be walked by legends of the past on this hauntingly beautiful and one-of-a-kind route. In addition to the mystery and beauty of the Grand Staircase itself, this national park boasts two other distinct areas of scenery: the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante. The Kaiparowits Plateau offers fossil-lovers a wealth of Cretaceous-period fossils in its gray-green scalene surface. As the wildest, most arid and highest (9,000 feet above sea level) part of the monument, this giant triangular formation offers both breathtaking views and a particularly stark attractiveness even more rugged than the rest of the surrounding countryside. The Canyons of the Escalante are similarly striking, and almost haunting in their desolate beauty. Created by the Escalante River as it chewed down to the bare rocky bones of the earth, the Canyons now boast a twisting maze of narrow canyons, soaring walls and wind-swept nooks and crannies riddled with secret grottoes -a photographer’s paradise if ever there was one.
Layman geologists will love the rock formations so iconic to Utah, but the hiking buffs get a treat, too, in the form of 1.9 million acres of solitary, breathtakingly beautiful country full of new wonders around every corner. Lace up your hiking boots and take a jaunt on foot over one of numerous hiking trails in both Escalante National Monument and Bryce Canyon National Park for a memorable respite from long hours on the road.
No matter what your reason for riding this route, for the best experience of all, take an overnight in the region, such as at one of the unique hideaways tucked into Bryce Canyon National Park, to experience the best of both sunrise and sunset in this storied land. No matter what your reason for traveling this route, you’re sure to find a uniquely magical ride with many new memories to be made. If you’re on the lookout for a place to stay during your next adventure, give Biker Buddy a try: we specialize in Places to Stay for Bike-Minded People. Check out lodgings along your route here, or find out more about how you can become a host and provide accommodations for your fellow bikers here.