You really have to drive Utah’s Scenic Byway 12 to understand just how spectacular and diverse the region’s terrain really is. Start in Springdale, Utah, the gateway to Zion National Park. Get an early start so you can take some time to explore the stunning canyon for which the park is named. Leave Zion via Route 9. When you reach Mt. Carmel Junction, head north on U.S. 89. Just when you think you may have already seen the best that Utah had to offer, you’ll encounter the turn onto Scenic Byway 12, and several minutes later, Bryce Canyon National Park. Do not miss Bryce Canyon! Although you’re only an hour and a half or so out of Zion National Park, this is a good place to stop. Find a place to stay in Bryce Canyon City, like Ruby’s Inn, then head into the park to explore the canyon’s otherworldly hoodoos and sweeping views of the Dixie National Forest. From Bryce, continue east and north on route 12, which winds for another 100 miles through the Dixie National Forest and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, even skirting the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. You’ll cross canyon-riddled desert landscape, forested mountains, and even traverse a narrow spine of a ridge no wider than the road, itself. When you reach the end of route 12, you’ll be at the gateway to Capitol Reef National Park, another of the country’s amazing places to explore.