April 2018 – Utah Scenic Byway 24 between the towns of Loa and Hanksville goes through Capitol Reef National Park and is one of the most spectacular scenic drives in America. We have been fortunate to drive it several times in each direction, and every single time our jaws have hung open for the entire 64 miles as we’ve been utterly blown away by the dramatic scenery and wild rock formations passing by our windows.
It started with a lovely view of red rocks as we rounded a bend.
Then our eyes popped open as the contours and texture of the land grew bigger and more complex.
Suddenly, we started down a hill and the view exploded in front of us and became knock-your-socks-off stunning!
A group of horses and cows live in this view all day every day, so they weren’t quite as impressed.
But we were loving every minute as we drove head on into that view.
Utah Byway 24 is easily driven in an RV, even though there are lots of twists and turns and climbs and descents, and we saw plenty of RVs on the road.
The red rock views just kept coming and coming and coming.
The heart of Capitol Reef National Park is an old Mormon farming community called Fruita. As we drove past the village on Utah Highway 24, we noticed that the trees were still showing off their nakedness for winter. However, on other spring and summer visits, we’ve seen these trees lit up in brilliant shades of green that are the perfect visual contrast to the red rocks and blue sky.
Fruita is a beautiful and tranquil little community, and there are camping options, a fantastic scenic drive into the depths of the red rocks, and some terrific hikes to historic Mormon sites. We have a detailed blog post about some of the highlights of Capitol Reef National Park and the town of Fruita from our visit a few years back (blog post here).
However, on this trip we were just driving through on Utah Highway 24. So, on we went, reminiscing when we passed some favorite spots and then quickly becoming immersed in the majestic scenery of Utah Scenic Byway 24 once again.
We had left red rock country behind and were now driving between rock walls that Mother Nature had painted in lighter shades.
There were still some hints of red rocks here and there, and we were mesmerized as we drove. A UPS truck went by in the opposite direction and we had to laugh. Surely, that driver has the best UPS route in the country!
Gradually, the soaring rock walls on either side of us receded, and the land opened up, punctuated by occasional towers of stone.
Then the rock formations changed shape and the rock walls were filled with steep and angular channels that were carved with Nature’s sharpest chisels.
We were no longer in Capitol Reef National Park, but the landscapes in Utah pay no attention to such artificial boundaries. Utah Scenic Byway 24 was still giving us a magic carpet ride through some of the most exotic scenery America has to offer.
The chiseled walls returned, but the cows grazing underneath didn’t notice.
As we neared the hamlet of Hanksville, the road took a few final sweeping turns past some walls of stone.
And then, in a final burst of glory, we passed a “mitten” rock formation that seemed to be advertising some of the other wonders of America’s southwest. “If you liked this road, you should check out Monument Valley!” it seemed to be saying.
What a glorious drive that was! I looked over at Mark to exchange happy glances and did a double take. Hey, who was doing the driving?
We will never tire of driving the many wondrous scenic drives in Utah, and Utah Scenic Byway 24 is well worth experiencing many times in both directions. It attaches to Scenic Byway 12 and the fabulous Bicentennial Highway and is close to the little known Burr Trail too.
Even if your itinerary doesn’t include visiting Capitol Reef National Park for its hikes and camping, if you happen to be in southern Utah, treat yourself to an east-west detour and spend a few hours driving Utah Scenic Byway 24!
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More info about Utah Byway 24 and Capitol Reef National Park:
- Utah Route 24 Info – From “Capitol Reef Country”
- Capitol Reef National Park Official Website – From NPS
- RV Parks and Campgrounds nearby – From RV Park Reviews
- Map of Utah Scenic Byway 24 between Loa and Hanksville
Other “Do Not Miss” Scenic Byways we have loved:
- “Going to the Sun” from Glacier National Park’s East Side – Breathtaking! 08/21/16
- Beartooth Highway Scenic Drive – Dazzling All American Road – WOW!! 07/06/18
- Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina) – Wildflowers Everywhere! 06/07/15
- Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia) – Waterfalls & Rhododendrons 06/18/15
- Chief Joseph Scenic Byway – Mountain Majesty Near Yellowstone NP 07/20/18
- Colorado’s Stunning Scenic Drives…by Porsche! 07/23/17
- East Glacier Scenic Drive – Treasures OUTSIDE Glacier National Park 06/15/18
- Georgia’s Antebellum Trail – Milledgeville, Eatonton & Madison 05/23/15
- Icefields Parkway – Canadian Rockies Scenic Drive – WOW! 06/14/16
- Icefields Parkway – True Blue Lakes, Avalanches & Grouse! 06/16/16
- Natchez Trace Parkway, MS – Echoes of History! 04/30/08
- Natural Bridges National Monument & Utah’s Bicentennial Highway 06/15/12
- Schoodic National Scenic Byway – Downeast Maine at its best! 07/04/15
- The Burr Trail – A Fabulous Side Trip on Utah’s Scenic Byway 12 11/15/16
- Utah Scenic Byway 12 RV Trip – Driving An All American Road! 11/03/16
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