Smithsonian Butte Scenic Drive in Utah

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Smithsonian Butte Scenic Drive

Passing by Grafton Ghost Town and Cemetery, the nine-mile Smithsonian Butte Scenic Drive is an alternate backway connecting Rockville and Apple Valley, winding through the canyons, plateaus, and mountains outside Zion.

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  • Connecting Rockville and Apple Valley, the Smithsonian Butte Scenic Drive is a 9-mile highlight reel.
  • Visit the Grafton Cemetery, with gravestones from the 1860s.
  • Relive the bicycle scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in the Grafton Ghost Town.
  • Bring a mountain bike to ride the legendary slickrock trails at Gooseberry Mesa.

Overview

Some call it a byway, some call it a backway. Potayto, potahto! It's all great! These nine miles of picture-worthy scenery, ghost towns, and the looming Smithsonian Butte connect Rockville and UT-9 with Apple Valley and UT-59.

Driving Directions

From UT-9, turn down Bridge Lane in Rockville, crossing a single-lane bridge and following the road for two miles before it eventually becomes the Smithsonian Butte Road. Grafton will be down the dead-end right fork, while UT-59 is found farther down the left fork at Apple Valley.

Time / Distance

The trip is only 9 miles long, but takes about 45 minutes, due to road conditions and terrain of the area.

Highlights

  • Grafton Cemetery
    The town was settled in 1859, but eventually abandoned due to Indian attacks and regular flooding of the Virgin River. The town cemetery is fascinating and insightful, with most gravestones from the late 19th century, detailing hardships of the area. 
  • Grafton Ghost Town
    There are still a few buildings left in the area, including a schoolhouse/church and residence. Don't forget your bicycle and partner, so you can re-enact the famous bicycle scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which was filmed in the town.
  • Smithsonian Butte
    This sandstone formation towers over the area at over 6,700 feet elevation, making a great picture from the scenic road circumnavigating it.
  • Gooseberry Mesa
    This mountain biking mecca is not only beautiful, it has a challenging web of slickrock trails, guaranteed to challenge all riders. Make sure to put the bikes on the rack for this scenic drive, turning off 2.8 miles before reaching Apple Valley.

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