For travelers willing to take their time, the road to and from Bryce's sandstone splendors just got a bit more scenic.
The newly dedicated U-12 Scenic Byway Interpretive Project, the first of its kind in Utah, is designed to encourage motorists to stop and admire the scenery along the highway, which runs from U.S. 89 south of Panguitch nearly to Capitol Reef National Park.Mike Martin, information assistant for the Dixie National Forest, said the road has been revamped with trail heads, interpretive signs and roadside pullouts.
"In early 1992, all these different agencies thought it would be good to have some plan or focus for the byways and backways," he said. "We got $735,000 of funds for this project."
"People were driving from Capitol Reef to Bryce to Zion and weren't stopping anywhere in between," he said. "People don't realize there's a host of interesting things to see on the way."
Three other roads in Utah will eventually have interpretive projects.
"We had to compete with the rest of the nation for the money and then we got to be the first," Martin said. "That road has been listed as one of the top 10 scenic byways in the country.
"At one point, you start at about 3,000 or 4,000 feet and climb Boulder Mountain up to 9,000 feet."
From that vantage amid alpine meadows, drivers can see into southeastern and central Utah.