Scenic USA - Utah
Each day Scenic USA presents a different and interesting photo feature from somewhere in
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Points of Interest
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|Photos by Ben Prepelka
Lower inset photos by Rob Jones
One of the wildest drives and 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. Hells Backbone Road and bridge area was called the Poison Road, since falling over an 800 drop-off meant certain death. 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.
Some of the most thrilling miles pass over the crest of Hogback Ridge. 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 opt for a lower gear. Imagine biking these 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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