America’s Scenic Byways — Southwest

The “National Scenic Byway” program in the US is designed to highlight the nation’s roads which have special significance for historical and/or aesthetic reasons. At this time there are 150 roads in 46 of the 50 states which have earned this designation. Take a tour with me of some of America’s Scenic Byways and see what they have to offer.

The states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah have a wealth of scenic attractions and history.  Some of the best of America’s Scenic Byways can be found in this section of the country.

Arizona — Red Rock Scenic Byway — Paralleling Oak Creek, Rte 89A accesses the lovely red rock formations in the area of Sedona.

Bell Rock, Oak Creek Canyon Drive

New Mexico — Historic Route 66 — Often referred to as the “Mother Road,” Route 66, for many years, was the major highway linking Chicago with Los Angeles. Its purpose and much of its existence has been usurped by interstate highways but small sections still remain to remind Americans of an earlier, simpler time. One of the most well-preserved segments of the road can be found in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Typical Route 66 Architecture

New Mexico — Santa Fe Trail — The beginning of this historic and scenic route is the state capital, Santa Fe, a delightful city which has preserved its heritage and traditional architecture in spite of incursions from modern society.

San Miguel Mission, Santa Fe

The tour ends in the mountain town of Taos where visitors can find an active Native American Pueblo in operation.

San Geronimo Church, Taos

Utah — Scenic Byway 143, Utah’s Patchwork Parkway — This road passes near two of Utah’s many national parks, Capitol Reef National Park which showcases the Waterpocket Fold, a monoclinal ridge that extends from southwestern Utah to Lake Powell,

Capitol Reef National Park

and Bryce Canyon National Park, a fantasyland of tall, monolithic columns called hoodoos.

Bryce Canyon National Park

        Utah — Scenic Byway 12 — Utah’s first “All-American Road” offers a kaleidoscope of colorful scenery and dramatic overlooks as it winds its way through southwestern Utah. The heart of the road can be found in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Grand Staircase-Escalante NM

Utah — Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway — This road actually winds through both northwestern Colorado and northeastern Utah, ending in the delightful town of Vernal, Utah.

Cobble Rock Park, Vernal


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