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Take the Scenic Route through Southern Utah

“The road must eventually lead to the whole world.” Jack Kerouac

Road trips are part of the great American experience — piling into a car, hitting the open road, and zig-zagging across the highways and byways. With more people breaking out of pandemic-sequestration, the need for adventure is real. Southern Utah – always a favorite of tourists and road trippers – is bracing itself for a busy summer. But the great thing about Southern Utah is that there are miles and miles of adventure with many places to explore, places to stop, and memories to be made.

Southern Utah locations made Travel and Leisure’s list of “50 best places to travel in 2021,” including Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah (17), and U.S. National Parks (47). The magazine lauds the region as “a full Southwestern road trip experience.”

Mighty-5-Road-Trip

These iconic routes (Utah has over 2,200 miles of scenic byways!) are ones to seek out as you traverse the road through Southern Utah. These are some of our favorites:

  • Utah’s Patchwork Parkway National Scenic Byway (S.R. 143) – The 50-mile, 1.5-hour trip winds through the red rock towers from Parowan to Panguitch, climbing through Dixie National Forest. A side trip to Cedar Breaks National Monument (S.R. 148) can also be included, which provides for Brian Head Resort. This trip is steeped in state history and Mormon pioneer heritage.
  • Zion National Scenic Byway (S.R. 9) – This byway begins at the intersection with S.R. 17 in La Verkin. It crosses the towns of Rockville and Springdale, eventually entering the east side of Zion National Park. The byway provides the whole Zion experience with breathtaking views of the iconic canyons and geographical wonders.
  • Mount Carmel Scenic Byway (U.S. 89) – The Markagunt Plateau leads into the Sevier River valley and cliffs of the Vermillion that is part of the Grand Staircase. The north-to-south route includes branches to Cedar Breaks National Monument, Dixie National Forest, and Zion National Park. The byway ends at Kanab.

Other notable places and things to experience for a proper Southwestern road trip:

  • Dark Sky Gazing – Open the sunroof or pull over and look up — Utah’s dark skies are an unparalleled view of systems and stars.
  • Take a picture at the Delicate Arch – Located in Arches National Park, the ubiquitous red arch is one of the most recognized geological formations.
  • Sandboard at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park – Coral pink sands offer rolling hills or recreation — adrenaline seekers can go ATV’ing or sandboarding.

The Mighty 5 Experience: If you have 10 days, VisitUtah.com recommends making pit stops at each of the Mighty 5 national parks and all of the majestic national monuments and state parks in between. Utah is rugged, breathtaking, and filled with opportunities to customize your own road trip adventure — our list will help you get started, find more ideas on our Instagram page and blog.

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