BLM Special Areas

Smithsonian Butte National Back Country Byway

Smithsonian Butte National Back Country Byway travels for 9.25 miles between Rockville, Utah, on State Route 9 and Apple Valley, Utah, on State Route 59 in southwestern Utah, just south of Zion National Park.  The Back County Byway takes visitors from the Virgin River floodplain in Rockville, up through the pinyon- juniper woodlands topping out at an elevation of 4,920, and then back down to the sagebrush desert at the Big Plain Junction at Highway 59. Views along the way include the colorful Smithsonian Butte, Eagle Crags, and Vermilion Cliffs within the Canaan Mountain Wilderness on the east. On the west, are the deep drainages and ridges falling away from Gooseberry Mesa including Wire Mesa, Grafton Mesa, and Pastry Ridge. An added bonus is the view into Zion National Park and its towering sandstone buttes. 

A short side trip of approximately 1.8 miles (3.6 miles round trip) leads to the historic ghost town of Grafton, first settled in 1861.  Several rehabilitated buildings and interpretive information give a glimpse into early pioneer life along the Virgin River. Take the Bridge Road out of Rockville and turn right at mile 1.6 on Grafton Road, leaving the Back Country Byway.

Note:  Camping is prohibited on federally managed lands within 1/2 mile of either side of the Back Country Byway.

Smithsonian Butte as viewed from the Back Country Byway

IMPORTANT: Smithsonian Butte National Back County Byway (Smithsonian Butte Road) received heavy rainfall recently, causing severe erosion to the road surface. Vehicle travel from Grafton Road to Wire Mesa is not recommended. Gooseberry Mesa National Recreation Trail can be accessed from Smithsonian Butte Road from Highway 59.

Historic bridge on Bridge Road, a section of the Back Country Byway on the Rockville side.