Smoky Mountain Road in Southern Utah

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Smoky Mountain Road

Smoky Mountain Road, 46 miles east of Bryce Canyon, is the most remote and challenging dirt road through Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument offering wonderful views of Lake Powell. Read More

  • Smoky Mountain Road runs 78 miles from Hwy12 at Escalante to Big Water on US-89
  • Allow 5-6 hours to travel one way
  • The road has a 1,400 foot change of elevation with steep switchbacks on the Kelly Grade
  • Smoky Mountain got its name from the century-old underground coal fire which still emits smoke

Overview

The recreational Smoky Mountain Road Utah runs 78 miles from Hwy12 just west of Escalante to Big Water on US-89, skirting Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Lake Powell. Although difficult to navigate due to unmarked intersections, the road is lightly used and very beautiful in places. It has a 1,400 foot change of elevations with steep switchbacks on the Kelly Grade and is best enjoyed in spring and fall.

Smoky Mountain got its name as smoke can still be seen escaping from the underground coal fire which has been burning for over a century.

Driving Directions

Smoky Mountain Road is 46 miles east of Bryce Canyon National Park along Hwy 12. The dirt road starts just west of Escalante, signposted off Hwy 12 and runs in a southerly direction for 78 miles. It ends at the junction with Hwy 89 at Big Water near Lake Powell.

This rough road requires a high clearance vehicle and 4-wheel drive to explore the side roads. Sections become impassable in wet weather.

Time/Distance

Smoky Mountain Road is 78 miles long and travelers should allow 5-6 hours to travel one way.

Highlights

  • The steep Kelly Grade offers huge panoramic views
  • Spot strange balanced boulders along the roadside
  • Enjoy views of the north side of Lake Powell from vista points
  • Spectacular views of Navajo Mountain
  • Exploring Collet Canyon is a terrific adventure

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