To Hell and Back(bone)
Posted in: Outdoor adventures on February 17, 2016.
One of the most scenic, and remote, back roads in this part of Southern Utah is Hell’s Backbone. The Civilian Conservation Corp built this road in 1933 to let vehicles drive between Boulder and Escalante. (Although, admittedly, most of the road traffic was in the form of mule caravans.) Today most people drive on the newer Scenic Highway 12, and Hell’s Backbone is forgotten. But if you want to see a slice of unspoiled desert country, we can’t think of a better place to go.
Hell’s Backbone Road is narrow and unpaved. Its winds through the Grand Staircase and the Waterpocket Fold. It also allows access to the Box-Death Hollow Wilderness Area (sounds inviting, doesn’t it?) If you have the inclination, we recommend the nine-mile hike up the box canyon. There are also many undesignated trails that the backcountry enthusiast can enjoy. Even if you don’t choose to stop and hike, you can still enjoy the panorama of Box-Death Wilderness Area. The area is so clean, stark and remote.
The road is relatively short, only 38-miles long. But all 38-miles are really exciting, especially the bridge! It spans across a 1,500 foot drop. So if you need to satisfy your sense of adventure, we recommend you drive Hell’s Backbone the next time you head toward Escalante.
Two words of caution: Hell’s Backbone road becomes difficult to travel in the winter. The road can also be impassable during rain. So if it looks like nasty weather, you’d better reschedule your trip. Also, since the area is so remote, you should tell someone about your plans to go exploring. And bring lots of water.
Hell’s Backbone is a road that deserves to be driven. We at the Lodge encourage you to get out and take this road less traveled by.