Scenic USA - Utah

The Hogback

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The Hogback - UT 12, Boulder, Utah

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Lower inset photos by Rob Jones

     One of the wildest drives and Hogback Road Sign - UT 12, Boulder, Utah most scenic highways of south-central Utah was completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1940. Now designated as an All American Road, the Clem Church Memorial Highway passes through some of the most rugged lands of Utah. Once called the Million Dollar Road to Boulder, SR 12 finally brought in mail service by auto, rather than relying on a mule train. Though little remains of Camp FS-18, the CCC's legacy includes two hair-raising roads through the Escalante Canyons. Canyon view from the Hogback - UT 12, Boulder, Utah The area of Hells Backbone Road and bridge was called the Poison Road, since falling over an 800 drop-off meant certain death. A remarkable feat by the CCC workers, the 109 foot bridge across Death Hollow was completed in just six weeks.
     Stretching across the northern boundary of Escalante National Monument, Route 12 connects U.S. Route 89 with Torrey and Route 24. This byway passes countless scenic viewpoints, including Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Boulder Overlook, Calf Creek Falls, and this astoundng route on The Hogback. Six additional side roads lead to another round of must see scenic stops, including this string of interesting names: Kodachrome Basin, Box Death Hollow, Cottonwood Wash Narrows and Hells Backbone Road.
     Some of the most thrilling miles pass over the crest of Hogback Ridge. The Hogback before widening, UT 12, Boulder, Utah When your head stops spinning in circles (i.e. Linda Blair), a sense of amazement rushes through your mind. How anyone could have built this narrow road, with immediate drop-offs to each side, is any one’s guess. Without guard-rails and one S-turn after another, flatlanders will have a death grip on the steering wheel and cyclists must opt for a lower gear. Imagine biking the 14 percent grades along this route; a punishing trip, but sights of Utah's dramatic scenery in every direction make every mile something to remember.

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