The Smoky Mountain Scenic Backway (BLM330) is a very scenic trail through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, in Kane County, in southern Utah, USA. Be prepared, this road is not for the faint of heart or ill prepared. One mistake can have serious consequences.
Is Smoky Mountain Road paved?
The surface of this rocky dirt trail is very rough. It’s 78 miles long and links Scenic Byway 12 and Highway 89. Smoky Mountain Road is not a loop road; it’s one way. You can drive it from the town of Big Water to Escalante or from the town of Escalante to Big Water. You'll need high-clearance 4wd in a couple of sections - otherwise a standard auto could get through. Just don't try it when it's wet - there are two sections of the road that puddle and become impassable with quicksand.
How long does it take to drive the Smoky Mountain Road?
Plan about five-six hours to drive the trail. Due its unique location and the climb in elevation over thousands of feet, and passing through remote areas, Driving this high clearance track is no simple undertaking, it is rough and wild. The road is impassable when wet and during the winter months due to snow. It's a beautiful, exciting drive that very few people experience. The road crosses numerous washes that can strand a vehicle for days after a rain. Be prepared. Not recommended to travel alone and carry lots of water, extra food, at least one good spare (two are better), and make sure your vehicle is in good working order. The road offers unparalleled views of Lake Powell, the Navajo Mountains, and the Kaiparowits Plateau. The elevation of the route varies between 4,500 feet and 6,500 feet, meaning you’ll find relatively moderate temperatures in spring and fall, but it can get quite hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
Is Smoky Mountain Road dangerous?
Words can’t describe the road and pictures don’t do it justice. One of the most risky, but famous, sections of the trail is called Kelly's Grade. It’s a thrilling five-mile stretch of switchbacks climbing 1200 feet up which catapults you up the side of the cliffs on the edge of the Kaiparowits Plateau. From the top, there are sweeping, spectacular views of the Kaiparowits Plateau, Lake Powell, Navajo Mountain, Fifty Mile Mountain, Bryce Canyon, the Table Cliffs, and Boulder Mountain.The main attraction of this road is its remoteness. Be prepared as there isn't much traffic on this road and you may not see another vehicle for the entire length of the road. Additional caution is warranted before embarking on the drive. The area where the road is located is remote and completely undeveloped. There are no services anywhere along the route. Be sure to check current road conditions before beginning your trip. You need to be a well-prepared, venturesome soul willing to risk the occasionally scary rigors of uncertain high-clearance 4-wheel driving to find out what is up there. It can be dangerous for the unprepared.