Driving from Bryce Canyon to Grand Junction

The original travel plan had to been to head out from Bryce Canyon mid-morning, then go through Capitol Reef and Arches National Parks, before arriving at Grand Junction in the late afternoon. Unfortunately, a really late departure from Las Vegas got us into Bryce near dinner, pushing back my desired hike to today, and so pushing back our departure to after lunch.

We left the Bryce area close to 1400 local. We drove east on UT 12, a truly beautiful drive. It starts out descending into Bryce Canyon, with hoodoos everywhere, along with soaring rock faces, and then runs through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. The terrain runs from hoodoos to huge red rock bluffs and cliffs, to volcanic ash to a beige rock.

This is the large structure that we saw from west of Bryce Canyon on the way there yesterday.

This is looking west back towards Bryce Canyon.

There were still lots of hoodoos around.

And also some hoodoos in the making.

After the National Monument, you go through a series of steep climbs and steep descents, including one 10 degrees down.

Eventually, you end up at an overlook for a really pretty overlook for the Escalante River canyon. The road dives steeply down to a river crossing, at about 5200 ft elevation, then back up and up and up, along the canyons along Calf Creek. The views here are amazing, but…

As you go along north, Now, running along the spine of a set of mountains. As you get up to about the 6400 ft level, you are running along the spine of a ridge, with steep, 1000+ft dropoffs on both sides of the road. At a couple points, you have only a soft shoulder on either side of the road, then AIR.

After this, you go through the town of Boulder, and then some really pretty forests that are a combination of pine and aspen. As you drive up Boulder Mountain, the trees give way to mostly aspen. Since we drove through in early June, the leaves were bright green, and just beautiful. There are a couple overlooks along the way – stop at ALL of them.

We made our way around Boulder Mountain to Torrey (UT 24), then west through Capitol Reef National Park, and through a virtual moonscape of hoodoos and rock formations of every color.

At Hanksville, we turned north, and went about 40 miles along a treeless landscape. I have to admit, I opened up the car along this stretch. You occasionally pass rock formations, and after a while there was a nice set of bluffs along the west side of the road.

This was a spectacular, if slow drive, with stunning scenery. There is little cell service, but there are enough little towns along the way for drinks and food. I’d recommend gassing up in the Bryce area.

We had dinner in Green River, and then headed into Grand Junction on I-70. The last thing we took a photo of was a small lenticular cloud.

This was the last photo we took for the day, but there was still amazing mountains and ridges and other views on the way to Grand Junction. Great drive, great views.

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One Response to “Driving from Bryce Canyon to Grand Junction”

  1. Index: Family Trip, 30 May-07 Jun 2010 « Bill Hensley’s Random Blog Says:

    […] Bryce Canyon to Grand Junction […]

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