Some $590,000 in federal funding has been allocated for tourist developments along one of Utah's most scenic highways - U-12 - that connects Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef national parks.

Between the national parks along the route lie three state parks and a variety of spectacular scenery that ranges from high alpine forests to the red rock country of the colorful deserts.A grant for facility development along the entire 120 miles of the scenic route was authorized from federal funds that were set aside for use on highways designated as "scenic byways."

Utah Department of Transportation officials said some 30 scenic turnouts will be constructed, along with the development of two interpretive kiosks, programs and 23 interpretive signs, a guide service, video and audio programs and establishing five trail head markers.

U-12 provides easy access to two state parks in Garfield County and another near the border of Kane and Garfield counties, the Anasazi Park at Boulder near the head of the Burr Trail, the Petrified Forest Park near Escalante, and Kodachrome Basin State Park.

The highway joins with U-24 near Capital Reef and U.S. 91 some 25 miles west of Bryce Canyon, running through the towns of Grover, Boulder, Escalante, Henrieville, Cannonville and Tropic.

A UDOT spokesman said the aim of the project is to promote longer stays through familiarizing visitors with area attractions. It will orient visitors to the area, make them aware of recreation opportunities, provide information about natural and cultural resources, help them understand how these resources are managed and support the local economies through tourism.

Paving was completed on U-12 across the Boulder Mountain in 1989.