Taking a trip on Utah Scenic Byway 12 is like taking a grand tour of some of the most spectacular landscapes on earth. From west to east on this long road, a tourist can experience the Dixie National Forest, Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Fairyland Canyon, Kodachrome Basin, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Escalante Petrified Forest, Hell's Backbone, Fish Lake National Forest and Capitol Reef. There are endless hiking trails, 4x4 trails, campgrounds, RV parks and rustic cabin lodges along this route, so a visitor can easily plan an entire vacation around the Utah Scenic Byway 12 experience!
When touring Scenic Byway 12, taking the time to stop and smell the roses along the way is the best approach for doing this long scenic drive. Driving nonstop in a hurry on this scenic byway is like reading a book from cover to cover, but with only blank pages in between. Therefore it is best to just forget about the illusion of time when touring SR 12, so the tour can thoroughly be enriched by the timeless experience found in the wide open spaces.
No matter how many times that somebody stops at the same place on Scenic Byway 12, the views will never be the same. The seasons, weather and time of day can have dramatic effects on the appearance of this landscape, so the view from any given scenic overlook along this road will never look the same way twice. Visiting the same scenic overlook more than once over the course of several years often will result in feelings of déja vù, because of variations in the appearance of the landscape from one moment in time to the next.
After driving east of the Hogback section in Grand Staircase-Escalante, the scenic drive on SR 12 starts going uphill into the mountains where high elevation alpine forests await. Deer can be seen in the grassy meadows and the lush surroundings are like a different world when compared to the barren bedrock landscape a few miles behind. This stretch of Byway 12 runs through the Fish Lake National Forest on the way to Capitol Reef and there are several interesting scenic overlooks that are well over 8,000 feet above sea level.
The Larb Hollow Overlook is a viewpoint that simply must not be passed by when touring this end of Scenic Byway 12! This high vantage point overlooks a vast expanse of majestic scenery that is so picturesque, that a visitor simply cannot help but to stand there and stare in awe. The views stretch far out into the horizon. Features of Capitol Reef can be noticed in the distance and across the valley the Grand Staircase-Escalante landscape can be seen along the Burr Trail. The Henry Mountains provide a dark backdrop for the nearby colorful sandstone outcrops. Plenty of green farmland can be seen towards the town of Boulder, where the barren desert meets the lush mountain ecosystem.
In a place like this, standing there long enough to take in the entire view is what most people do and some relish the opportunity more than others. Some folks stop at the Larb Hollow Overlook to take in the view just one more time, even though they have been there a hundred times in the past. This is because this scenic view is truly never the same twice.
Oddly enough during my Larb Hollow Overlook visit, I was struck by a heavy sense of déja vù when I turned to the lady standing next to me and said "It does not matter how matter how many times that you have been here, the view is always worth seeing!" The stranger replied by saying "I definitely agree and I just hope this place never changes." What threw me into the déja vù was the tone of concern in her voice. After hearing her voice, I actually recalled meeting this stranger once before at this same place and the same brief courteous conversation between strangers occurred.
When I turned to look at the lady, I had quite the flashback when I realized that she actually was the same person standing next to me at Larb Hollow Overlook from a few years before. It was as if she realized the moment too, because we smiled and nothing more needed to be spoken before parting ways. I just kind of stood there scratching my head while wondering if I was talking to a ghost or something, till I finally got my wits back together. There is something magical about a déja vù experience and the one that happened at the Larb Hollow Overlook caused me to be preoccupied the rest of the day. It is a weird world that we live in and evidently lightning does strike twice, especially when a majestic view is involved!
The Larb Hollow Overlook is the last hurrah when heading east out of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, but it is the start of adventures in the Capitol Reef region. This overlook serves as a place to take a deep breath and relax after passing through the perilous Canyons and Hogback sections of Escalante. The lush green alpine surroundings also spell cool refreshing relief from the summertime heat, so this certainly is a great place to stop and smell the roses when touring Utah Scenic Byway 12!
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