Scenic Drives
Utah Scenic Byways
Byways

Scenic Byways are major roads, traveled regularly, but with some sharp curves and steep grades. Personal discretion is the key to a safe driving experience. The Byways are designated with the logo seen above and are indicated with dots on the Utah! Official Highway Map.

U211 Squaw Flat Scenic Byway

Beginning fourteen miles north of Monticello at the junction with US Highway 191, the route crosses a high sage plain before plunging through a series of tight turns to Newspaper Rock Recreation Site. Newspaper Rock is covered with petroglyphs inscribed by the people who inhabited this area hundreds of years ago. From this point, Squaw Flat Scenic Byway traverses beautiful Indian Creek Canyon. The road continues 23 miles to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. (35 miles long - approximately 1 1/2 hours driving time.)

U95 Bicentennial Scenic Byway

At its western terminus at Hanksville, the Byway skirts reminders of the gold rush era and Indian battles. At Glen Canyon National Recreation Area it snakes through magnificent red gorges on its approach to the blue of Lake Powell. It gives access to Hite Marina, Natural Bridges National Monument, and Grand Gulch Primitive Area. The Byway cuts through Comb Ridge, a sandstone monocline 1000 feet from the wash bottom to the top of the cliffs; it passes Butler Wash Indian Ruin, a small cliff dwelling at the end of a one mile hike; and finally joins US Highway 191 south of Blanding. From Hanksville to Blanding, allow 5 hours for this 140 mile drive with a stop at Natural Bridges, Mule Canyon, and Butler Wash.

US Highway 163 - Arizona Border to Bluff Scenic Byway

From the Arizona border, US 163 traverses stunning Monument Valley with old west desert scenery and red rock spires. Northeast of Monument Valley the route arrives at Mexican Hat, a small town named for the nearby sandstone formation that looks like an inverted sombrero. Here the Byway crosses the San Juan River on an historic bridge, and joins Utah Highway 276 which leads to Goosenecks State Park and Valley of the Gods. The Great Goosenecks of the San Juan River are visible from an overlook at the state park. Valley of the Gods is accessible via a native surface road suitable for high clearance vehicles and popular with mountain bike enthusiasts. Farther along, the Byway arrives in the historic community of Bluff. Allow 2 hours for the drive

Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway

The Trail of the Ancients is a scenic route through southeastern Utah, southwestern Colorado, and northeastern Arizona: the Four Corners. The route accesses archaeological sites as well as significant cultural and historic sites in this remote region.

On this journey of discovery, you'll travel through the arid desert of northeast Arizona, the sandstone rimmed canyons and green valleys of southwest Colorado, and the snow-capped mountains and red rock country of southeast Utah.

Begin your adventure at any point along the trail. Road conditions vary from paved highways to native surface, some requiring stiff suspension or high clearance. Many sites are on or within a short distance of a paved road. During stormy weather, local inquiry should be made about road conditions.

Your adventure will take you through the archaeological heartland of America. The earliest inhabitants in the Four Corners were nomadic people who lived in the area from at least 10,000 BC. The Ancestral Puebloans occupied this canyon-cut country from about AD 1 to AD 1300 and left remnants of their civilization throughout the region.

But the ancient cultures are not the only intriguing cultural heritage here. Modern communities and Indian lands compliment the archaeological remains. The Ute people historically inhabited large portions of Colorado and Utah, living in dispersed communities between the mountains and canyons. Today there are vital Ute communities along the Trail at Towaoc in Colorado and White Mesa in Utah.

This vast area is also home to the Navajo whose name for themselves, Dine', means 'The People.' Until recently, most Dine' lived in small family communities scattered through the Navajo Reservation.

Spanish traders worked through southeast Utah in 1750 and named the La Sal Mountains. Spanish explorers entered the area in late 1776 with the Dominguez/Escalante Expedition. Vaqueros, or cowboys, brought their families to the Great Sage Plain between Cortez, Colorado and Monticello, Utah some time later. White pioneers entered the Utah portion of the trail in 1880, and many families still living here trace their roots to the people who built the Hole-in-the-Rock trail from western Utah.

This is a trail from the past to the future, from adventure to understanding. For an experience you'll never forget, join us along the Trail of the Ancients.

Contact San Juan County Economic Development & Visitor Services at 800-574-4386 for a complete Trail of the Ancients brochure.