I had to work on the Fourth of July, so to celebrate MY independence from the necessity of earning a living, I took a trip into southern Utah this week. My goal was to travel Cottonwood Canyon, Hell's Backbone, and Skutumpah/Johnson Canyon roads in 2 days. My first post covered the well known Cottonwood Canyon road, and the next leg of the journey led to Hell's Backbone.
I live in Flagstaff where summer temperatures rarely exceed 85 degrees, so I very seldom visit the hot, dry deserts this time of year. Since I was just passing through it wasn't too bad, and having high elevation retreats near by meant I could spend the night in much cooler places.
Having emerged from the north end of Cottonwood Canyon late in the day, the next stage had me traveling about 30 miles east on Highway 12 to Escalante. There I turned north at the "Scenic Backway" sign also known as FS 153.
As the road meanders north, the pavement disappears. Along the way you'll notice a series of ranching outposts - these belong to the Turnabout Ranch, a boarding school and treatment center for wayward youth. Southern Utah is well known for it's "hoods-in-the-woods" tough love wilderness programs, and this outfit is a good example.
Soon enough the private land drops away and we enter the Dixie National Forest. The entire road is well maintained and suitable for passenger cars, although there are sections that are HEAVILY washboarded.
The road has been climbing very slowly and steadily, and from a high desert climate near Escalante you pass through a pinon-juniper woodland, into a ponderosa pine landscape, and finally at the highest point a mixed conifer and aspen forest.
Because of the tree cover all you get along the way is tantalizing glimpses to the east of the Escalante Canyons.
At the upper end near the bridge, there is access to the incredible hiking in the Box - Death Hollow Wilderness. Summer however is not the time to do it!
At last we come to the bridge itself - a narrow single lane span over a sliver of rock with rocky canyons dropping away steeply on either side. Finally we get some great views of the striking landscape.
It's getting late in the day, so time has come to find a camp spot. There are many inviting roads branching off the main route, but with the sun setting I don't have time to explore.
I settle on a small meadow with a very impressive ponderosa snag. After supper, the full moon invites me to stay up and howl with the coyotes! Tomorrow, the journey continues......
Thanks for part 2 and the great pics Eric. Hells Backbone, Box Death Hollow Wilderness, and the Aquarius Plateau are very cool spots we love (and is a nice way to hook up with the Burr Trail to the east ... which is another great road, that is, before someone got it in their mind to pave a lot of it).
BTW, as a small factoid, the Aquarius Plateau is the highest altitude timbered plateau in North America.
That would have been a TWO WAY bridge if YOUR truck wasn't so big! Great pics.
2011 Palomino Maverick 1000SLLB on a 2004 Dodge Quadcab CTD Ram3500 SRW long bed equipped with Timbren springs, Stable Load bump stops, Rickson 19.5" wheels/"G" range tires and a Helwig "Big Wig" rear anti sway bar.