Scenic Route 12 and Wonderland in Utah

The road reaches every place; the shortcut, only one.

James Richardson

“Should we do it or not?”

That was the question of the week while we were staying in the Bryce area. Route 12 was the most direct way to our next location in Torrey, Utah. It is has been designated as an “All American Road” as one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the United States. It is 124 miles long. It is also a narrow two lane road with many curves, hairpin turns, and steep grades – a challenge when pulling a 5th wheel. I combed our RVin’g Facebook groups for other travelers’ input. One RVer’s advice: “just stay between the lines and you’ll be fine.” Well…okay! But in reality, I left this decision up to Cal, since he’s the driver, and he decided he could give it a go.

The western side of Route 12 starts at Panguitch and proceeds through the tunnels at Red Canyon that I blogged about earlier. It passes the turnoff to Bryce NP, and then the road to Kodachrome SP. All of that just in the first 25 miles! Heading east past Kodachrome, we were on new territory.

With Sam in tow behind Frodo, we don’t usually make stops on travel day. We were told, however, that Kiva Coffeehouse is a great stop for blackberry muffins. They have a large circular lot for RV’s, so we gave it a try. The rumors were true. The muffins were great, and so was the view.

This was a busy little spot. The Escalante River flows through here, so there are river activities, as well as a trailhead.

At Yonder Escalante, you could stay in a little cabin, in one of ten Airstream trailers, or park your own RV, all in the middle of a gorgeous landscape. We passed this cute resort on the grounds of an old drive-in theatre and thought it might be a fun place for an overnight or two, while taking in some of the sights that we missed on Route 12. There was Escalante Petrified State Park, Escalante Canyons, and the highly rated Anasazi Park Museum, not to mention some beautiful overlooks. In the Dixie National Forest, there is an overlook at the road’s summit of 9,000 feet, with contrasting stands of fir and aspen.

One of many ranches on the road

Route 12 ends in Torrey and right there at the end, where it intersects with Route 24, was our RV park for the next few days.

I booked Wonderland RV reluctantly. It was the best park with hookups in this area that we could find, and was recommended to us. The national park and a state park not too far away only had basic sites, no hookups. There is a lot of free national land (BLM) that one could park on. I wish we could do this, but for a stay of more than 2 or 3 nights it just doesn’t work. So Cal and I conferred, and found a site that was not right on the busy road or already occupied. But when we arrived, at first, I was so disappointed. It was a very narrow site! I always wish the people who build RV parks could just give us a little more space.

Wonderland is a fairly new park. It’s situated on the back end of a family ranch and is owned by the same family. The small park was thoughtfully designed, albeit with the narrow sites, and it filled up every night. We saw them spending time on maintenance and making sure the grass was watered in between our sites and around the park, which was something we appreciated in this land of rock and dirt. We thought this was probably a gold mine for them; what a way to use the “back forty” of the ranch land!

The view out our bedroom window is what saved the stay. There were horses, cattle, and a bison in the field. If we had parked just three or four sites down, we would have had a scenic view of the shower house. We mostly had full sightseeing days while we were here so we weren’t at home too much.

Appropriately, on Mother’s Day one of the cows gave birth through the night. Two other cows had already had their calves. They, the bison, and the mother huddled around the new baby anxiously, but it hadn’t yet stood up. Both the bison and the mother licked the calf continuously until the mother got fed up and shooed the bison away. We, and many other park residents, watched and chatted at the fence, but I eventually went on to do other things. We were at home on this day, and Cal reported that the calf finally stood up around noon. He spoke with the owner later, and found out that all of the cows plus the bison had been impregnated by the same bull. The bison still had a couple of weeks to go before her birth.

We also had evening visitors at our site.

Wonderland had some creative places to stay. How would you like to spend the night in this little wagon?

Next time – Capitol Reef National Park

2 thoughts on “Scenic Route 12 and Wonderland in Utah

  1. The scenery looks beautiful. And it sounds like the RV park turned out okay -even with the narrow spots. Owners who care make a big difference. We like full hook ups sites. I’m hungry for a muffin now. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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