Smoky Mountain Road is a beautiful exciting drive in Utah

Smoky Mountain Scenic Backway is a very challenging drive located in Kane County, in the US state of Utah. Offering a thrilling experience for avid adventurers, this rugged route winds its way through some of the most captivating terrain in the United States.

Smoky Mountain Road

Where is Smoky Mountain Road?

The road is located in the southern part of Utah, running through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Is Smoky Mountain Road paved?

The drive comprises BLM330 and NP-230 roads. It’s a rocky dirt trail, very rough. The road is 124km (77.4 miles) long, running north-south from Escalante (Scenic Byway 12) to Big Water (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.

Do I need a 4x4 to drive Smoky Mountain Road?

Attempting it in anything but a High-Clearance, preferably 4-wheel drive vehicle is a recipe for disaster. 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 Smoky Mountain Road?

Plan about five to six hours to complete the trail without any stops. It's a beautiful, exciting drive that very few people experience and is lightly used. If your ideal road trip involves getting way off the beaten track, then this is the drive for you. The road offers sweeping views of Lake Powell, the Navajo Mountains, and the Kaiparowits Plateau.

Is Smoky Mountain Road open?

The road tops out at 2,160m (7,086ft) above sea level. 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. Keep in mind that road conditions can change rapidly due to weather. 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?

This road is not for the faint of heart or ill-prepared. It 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. 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. Signs posted at either entrance warn “impassible when wet,” and they mean it. Avoid this route the day of and the day after heavy rains.

Is Smoky Mountain Road remote?

The main attraction of this road is its remoteness and being completely undeveloped. 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.
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