This southern Utah area offers some of the most beautiful vistas in the west and many of them can be explored from the comfort of your vehicle. Here are just a few of our favorite scenic drives in the Hanksville area.
Capitol Reef National Park
While the park is covered more extensively elsewhere on our website, we thought it was important to mention it here as it is one of the best scenic drives around. This drive takes you through one of Utah's most iconic landscapes, featuring towering red rock cliffs, canyons, and natural bridges. In the summer you will see fields of wildflowers, and in the winter you may even get the chance to see some snow dusting the red cliffs. No matter the time of year, Capitol Reef National Park makes the top of our list.
Burr Point Trail
The Burr Point is one of the great overlooks in Utah. The Dirty Devil River Canyon is 1,400 feet deep here. It is a very remote and lonely place but easily accessible with your vehicle (RVs may have some difficulty). Head South from Hanksville on Utah 95. At mile marker 15.5 make a left hand turn onto Burr Point Road. Follow signs east 11 miles to a looped dead end. There are numerous spots to park and provides several places for a picnic lunch.
Fishlake Scenic Byway
This is a trek through mountains and meadows of the Fishlake National Forest. Early on, you will experience a change in terrain from sagebrush and occasional trees to high mountain aspen. To access the Fishlake Scenic Byway, take Utah SR 24 20 miles north of Loa. Watch for a right-hand turn on Utah SR 25 with signs to the Fishlake Recreation Area. Follow Utah SR 25 to Utah SR 72 back to Utah SR 24. The total loop is 60 miles.
Cathedral Valley Loop
The Cathedral Valley Loop is a journey unlike any other. The roads are passable by vehicles with adequate ground clearance, even those without four wheel drive. The 30 mile loop starts at the Caineville Wash Road. The loop tour traverses the classic Cathedral Valley landscape of monoliths and stark desert vistas, and offers access to Gypsum Sinkhole, Glass Mountain, and the South Desert. From this end, the driving time to lower Cathedral Valley (Temples of the Moon and Sun, and Glass Mountain) and back via the same route only takes about two hours. It is 15 miles from Hwy. 24 to the side road which accesses the Temples of the Moon and Sun; a sign marks the road junction. If you have time to stop and explore, Cathedral Valley has beautiful views, camping and some interesting sites worth checking out.
Some of these areas may be impassable due to weather conditions. From snowy mountains to flooded desert roads, you need to be sure to check the local forecast before exploring. Never try to cross a flooded wash; the water may be much deeper than it appears and the currents can be swift and deadly.
Scenic Byway 12
Stop at the numerous overlooks on Scenic Byway 12 as you journey South from Boulder Mountain (Utah's first All American Road) to see some of Utah's breathtaking views. The Larb Hollow lookout is one of Utah's most notable. If you can glimpse the La Sal Mountains in the distance, you're seeing out a hundred miles. What a vista!
Hogan Pass Overlook
One of Utah’s great scenic vistas can be seen not far from Hanksville. The Hogan Pass overlook is 9,200 feet above sea level and overlooks Capitol Reef National Park's Cathedral Valley to the Henry Mountains, which are 40 miles distant. You can see for hundreds of miles from Hogan Pass. It is without a doubt one of the finest views on earth. The desolation of the surroundings contrasts with the coniferous peaks of the Fishlake Mountain Range. The Hogan Pass Desert View Overlook is 15 miles north of Loa on Utah State Highway 72. It's on the right side of the road as you go north, with a spacious parking lot and restrooms.
Burpee Dinosaur Quarry
About 10 miles northwest of Hanksville you will find the Burpee Dinosaur Quarry. This is a large and productive Jurassic Period dinosaur quarry that has yielded hundreds of remains of multiple different dinosaur species, making it an important paleontological site. Access to the site is via a dirt road that requires a high clearance vehicle. To visit the quarry, visit the BLM Field Station located at 380 South 100 West in Hanksville.
Hanksville has a history of functioning as a basecamp for the miners of the Henry Mountains. From gold to uranium, the mountain has seen quite a few booms and busts. The Wolverton Mill is one of the many reminders of this history. The mill is located just behind the BLM office and offers a self guided tour with brief informational boards throughout. To visit the mill, drive behind the BLM Office located at 380 East 100 North in Hanksville.