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 north of out the town of Escalante, allowing travelers to complete a 38-mile loop back down to Hwy 12.
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.
About mid-way along the route, the road crosses the historic old, wooden Hells Backbone Bridge. In that area it follows contours just above the Box/Death Hollow Wilderness Area, and provides outstanding views down into rugged canyons. Several trailheads allow hikers/backpackers to access various parts of the wilderness.
On its western end, the road runs above the deep canyon cut by Pine Creek. Trails allow adventurers to descend into that canyon.
Posey Lake and other high-elevation Boulder-area lakes are located just north of the road, a little farther up the mountain. There is a very nice campground at Posey, and others in the area. Fishing is usually good in nearby Boulder Mountain lakes.
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.
It is a great drive that provides access to spectacular country.
Hells Backbone | Photo Gallery
Escalante and Boulder, Utah are considered the heart of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monum...