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. Mail and other goods continued to be transported into Boulder by mule until 1940. Today most people drive Scenic Highway 12 between Boulder and Escalante, and Hell’s Backbone is seldom used. (Don’t get us wrong, we love Highway 12, but we love Hell’s Backbone too.)
Hell’s Backbone is a narrow, gravel road that winds through the Grand Staircase and the Waterpocket Fold. The road is only 38 miles-long, but it introduces the traveler to new incredible views – includes an awesome bridge over a 1,500 foot drop. So if you need to satisfy your sense of adventure, we at the Lodge at Red River Ranch recommend you drive this way the next time you’re headed to Escalante.
Hell’s Backbone road also provides access to the Box-Death Hollow Wilderness Area. 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.
A word 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.
Hell’s Backbone is a road that deserves to be driven. We at the Lodge encourage you to get out and take the road less traveled by.