Smoky Mountain Road Drive Professional Review and Guide
"This road traverses one of the Lower 48’s most remote regions. The 1,400-foot ascent/descent on the switchbacks and shelf of the Kelley Grade, at the south end, is fun and the scenery awesome. Near the northern end, narrow, high-walled Left Hand Collet Canyon is a terrific adventure. There are views of Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon and Navajo Mountain as well. Spring and fall are the best seasons to visit.
From the south, the asphalt ends 2.1 miles from U.S. 89, and the roadbed becomes graded two-lane dirt and gravel. This red and yellow desert, the Warm Creek badlands, is forbidding, harsh and barren. Yet its stark beauty is overwhelming, the hues infinitely varied. To the left (north) rises Nipple Bench. To the south is Lake Powell. Ahead is Smoky Mountain, named for its burning underground coal deposits. The 600,000-acre Kaiparowits Plateau, a high, wedge-shaped block of mesas and incised canyons, is the middle of the monument’s three components. To the east are the Canyons of the Escalante. To the west is the Grand Staircase, a series of cliffs that rise north of the Grand Canyon, and which bear the names of their hues."