Monday, August 4, 2014
Utah's Scenic Byways 24 and 12
A couple weeks before heading out on our cross country road trip, we realized we would most likely end up in Bryce Canyon National Park on a Saturday afternoon/evening. I knew how quickly first-come/first-serve national park campgrounds fill up, so I decided to figure out an alternate plan for Saturday night. However, no hotels, bed and breakfasts, or airbnb options could be found right around Bryce Canyon.
And I'm so glad for that! I ended up stumbling across this awesome airstream resort in Escalante (about an hour outside of Bryce Canyon). Shooting Star Drive in and Resort was such a perfect mix between camping and hotel staying. We got a shower and a bed to sleep in, but also cooked outside and watched the sunset over the mountains with absolutely no one else around. Plus, booking our stay at the airstream resort on Saturday night changed our route from Moab to Bryce Canyon. Google maps originally suggested I-70 to Highway 89 as the quickest way to Bryce; however when has the quickest way ever been the best?! This definitely held true on this terrific road tripping day. Scenic Highway 12 was one of the most beautiful roads I've ever been on. And Highway 24 before that goes right through the best of Capitol Reef National Park (I guess I don't know that it was the best since we only ventured about a mile off the road, but it was spectacular!)
Tip: Make sure you fill up your tank in Moab (and probably stock up on snacks), because gas stations are few and far between on this route!
Reference: Utah Office of Tourism Website: http://travel.utah.gov/scenicbyway/
24 and 26: Canyonlands and Arches National Park
15: Capitol Reef National Park
16: Shooting Star Airstream Resort
From Moab, we took I-70 west past Green River and then headed south on Highway 24. We continued on Highway 24 by heading west at Hanksville (this is where the official scenic byway begins but it's pretty interesting before this too) and got to Hickman Bridge in Capitol Reef National Park about 2 1/2 hours after leaving Moab. After a short hike and a stop at the visitor's center in Capitol Reef, we continued on our way west on Highway 24 and then began heading south on Highway 12 through Dixie National Forest before arriving in Escalante about 2 1/2 hours later (really estimating here but we took our time stopping at vista points).
Hike: Hickman Bridge at Capitol Reef National Park
Hike Difficulty: Easy
Hike Distance (Round Trip): 2 miles
Time (Round Trip): 1 hour
(maybe a little longer if you plan to stop and appreciate everything!)
The trailhead parking lot is easy to access and has two pit toilets. It is about 2 miles east of the visitor's center and on the north side of the road (well marked). Most of the trail is in the sun, so make sure to wear that sun protection!
The first part of the trail is crazy because there is a big sign that basically says it's a rock fall area and you aren't allowed to stop until you get past that section (two pictures down you can see that area). The beginning of the trail is easy to spot and right along the Fremont river.
The trail ascends through lava rock spattered fields. These lava pieces were moved into the Capitol Reef area by glaciers and mudflow and rounded from the tumbling in this process.
Hickman Bridge (125 feet top to bottom and 133 feet from left to right)
Vista Point along Highway 12 in Dixie National Forest
Sugar's Shack - Our airstream was decorated like Marilyn Monroe's trailer for Some Like It Hot
Made ourselves some dinner on our propane grill (be sure to bring food for grilling because the stove inside doesn't work).
The airstream resort rents these classic cars and will play a movie that you select and bring you candy and popcorn to the car. We were asleep pretty early, or we totally would've done this!
We seemed to have the whole place to ourselves, so enjoyed rehearsing for our friends' wedding while watching the sun set on a great day.
Sunset from the airstream