Title of picture

Lake Cowichan by Gordon Bay Provincial Park

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Hell’s Backbone Road Scenic Backway

Tuesday, October 10th

Ray's flags drew some people to us again. Yesterday 2 young girls parked their car quite close to us and came over to ask if it was okay I think they wanted the "security of being near someone safe. They are on a road trip sleeping in their car from Ontario. They noticed our "Thanksgiving" flag and figured us for Canadians. Of course we said "no problem" as long as you do not mind our generator in the morning. lol

Our last day at Hole in the Rock boondocking area and we decided to take the Hell's Backbone Road Scenic Backway this morning by driving to Boulder and entering the road from that end. This is a "short" trip" so should not take us too long. The road is paved for the first 3 miles or so and then switches to a roughly graded, single lane road climbing up the mountain with many switchbacks to the top where the famous bridge is at 10,116 feet elevation. (We are at 5800 feet here at our camping site) Most of the road up to here has steep sides on either one side or the other and sometimes both sides. Again, not for the faint of heart, but with all of the logging gravel roads we've driven over the years, I'd no problem. Once over the bridge and down the next mountain to the Posey Lake turn-off the road became much wider for two vehicles to pass and was in much better shape with it's grading. Also you have about 4 miles of pavement at the end. This end of the trip was much more picturesque and an easier drive. So for those of you that do not want to drive the whole thing, come from the Escalante end and drive just to the famous bridge and turn around and go back to Escalante.

Description of the Backway:

Hell's Backbone is a rugged area that bridges between towering Boulder Mountain on the north and canyons cut by the the Escalante River and its tributaries on the south. The Hells Backbone Road is a winding route that follows ridges and mountain contours through the area. The road forks from All American Highway 12 near the town of Boulder. From there it runs west, climbing halfway up Boulder Mountain to connect with the Posey Lake/Pine Creek Road. That road comes out north of  the town of Escalante, allowing travelers to complete a 44-mile loop back down to Hwy 12.

The Hells Backbone Road is one of the most scenic backways in Utah. In one area it follows a narrow hogsback with sheer drops to both the right and the left. It is steep in spots and it can be treacherous during stormy weather.

Hells Backbone Road is gravel, graded occasionally, and suitable for family cars during dry weather. It runs from juniper desert up into the lush pine and aspen forest on Boulder Mountain. It was built by CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) workers during the Great Depression era  (1933) 
allowing vehicle traffic between Escalante and Boulder for the first time. Hell’s Backbone Bridge, a must-stop for taking photographs, allows travelers to pass above Sand Creek with views of the spectacular Box-Death Hollow Wilderness Area.

All of us loaded in the car by 9:15 am and off we went back down the most scenic part of Highway 12 towards Boulder. This is the 5th time I have driven that stretch and we see something new each time. Anyways, we reached the turn-off in about 20 minutes. Here is a map of the road we took. Follow the blue arrows. 

The first part of the drive that was paved, travelled down a canyon and then through some farming areas. Once past that, it was up and up and up and up... you get the idea. Not much to photograph on the way until you reached the top near the bridge. Then OMG that is a long way down!

Yup that is a long way down, 800' to be exact!

The other side of the bridge looking down.

Okay Ray .... stay there and I will pick you up! :)
After the bridge it's down the mountain on the other side of the bridge. The rest of the way is in heavy trees so no views until you get back to the bottom of the valley near Escalante.These are the pictures we took at the bottom in the valley. The whole drive only took as 2 hours, even with stopping to take pictures.

That is the ridge that we drove up from the back side of it.

Fall Colours

The "uplift stripes"

Look at the "swirly" rock.
Back on pavement we noticed that this guys irrigation had been on this morning with the freezing temperatures. Looked pretty neat.

Before getting back to Highway 12 we stopped to take this picture.
Here is a panarama shot of the entire ridge that we travelled along on the last leg to Escalante.
 Back at camp we had a bite to eat and then Ray relaxed while I prepared for our Thanksgiving Dinner with all of the fixin's. The wind finally stopped after 3 days so I will be able to cook "Ted the Turkey Wannabe" (a very large chicken) on the BBQ with a beer up his butt. (as per Ray's request) Had a lovely campfire while I watched Ted cook. The pictures today were not "stellar" as the last 2 excursions so now you get Ted's pictures! lol

Ted's B4 Picture
Ted's after picture
They sure grow big chickens down here ... must be 10 lbs!

Happy Thanksgiving ... missing you for dinner Steve and Dianne!
That concludes our Hwy 12 adventures. Tomorrow we move a whole 15 minutes down the road to Escalante Petrified Forest SP. I could not get a reservation for any more than 1 day at this time of year so ended up boondocking which was even better. but it is time to dump and fill. For those boondocking, the State Park dump is located outside the park boundary so everyone can use it for free.


  1. Great pictures! So much to see in Utah! Yum...dinner looks good! Sorry we missed it! :)

  2. Yup Ted the Turkey Wanabee tasted yummy. I reinvented him a couple of times in different dishes until he was gone. Thought of you guys while eating ... especially with "turkey jam" ! lol