Escalante Grand Staircase and Capitol Reef National Park in a Day
The scenic drive from Bryce Canyon through the Escalante Grand Staircase to Capitol Reef takes about 2.5 hours. We chose to take our time on the scenic route and got to know the local cattle.
Scenic Byway 12 is approximately 123 miles in length and passes by views of slot canyons, red rocks, and green forests. The narrow road twists, turns, and climbs about 9,000 feet in elevation. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go into the state park or do any of the hikes, but the drive itself was totally worth taking the less direct route.
Boondocking Near Capitol Reef Park
At the eastern end of Scenic Byway 12 is Capitol Reef Park. There’s plenty of dispersed camping sites in the area, so we used one of our boondocking apps to locate some land to park at.
Our boondocking site was actually a quarry that was undergoing some construction near the back.
Capitol Reef National Park
We had the next morning to explore Capitol Reef and decided to hike the Hickman Bridge Trail. The 1.8 mile loop is one of the easiest hikes we’ve been on and is incredibly accessible. It’s also different from most hikes we’ve been on because you’re not on an obvious trail as much as you’re walking across the sand stone.
The Hickman Bridge Trail was all we had time for before we started our drive toward Moab, but if we had more time to explore, we would have gone on the scenic drive and toured the petroglyph sites across the park. All in all, the drive through Scenic Byway 12 and our time in the park was well worth it on our way to our next stop: Canyonlands and Arches National Parks.