Hell’s Backbone Scenic Drive from boulder to Escalante, Utah is one of those things I’ve seen and driven past a million times since I first moved out here and we finally decided to drive it earlier this summer. The TripAdvisor reviews were pretty mixed, but we were already in Boulder so decided to go anyways. The plan was to do the whole drive and camp in Escalante, but like most of our plans, it changed.
It was pretty warm already this time of year and once we were on Boulder Mountain, we decided to just find a good spot to spend the night up there, out of the heat. I won’t lie, at the beginning of the drive, I wasn’t all that impressed. Like people said, you’re just driving through a forest, not that exciting. We still found some nice little spots to check out and you could see start to see some red rock peeking out between the trees. Then we got to the bridge.
Hell’s Backbone Bridge is arguably the best part of the road. It’s got awesome views of the canyons below and it was totally unexpected scenery for us. I mean, I would never have thought I’d see that kind of canyon in the middle of a mountain. We spent a little time here hanging out and taking pictures before moving on and admiring some aspens.
The first campground we came to was the Blue Spruce Campground, a small one with only six spots. It was only $9 a night for a pretty great spot. There were toilets available and there was a creek, Pine Creek, running right next to the campsites. There was one other older couple there, which made me a little less freaked out, so that was nice. We set up shop (and all my matching camping gear, which I didn’t even do on purpose) and just hung out for a while.
I just read in my hammock, which was one of my better purchases this summer, before we scramble together some deli meats and snacks for dinner. We have no idea how to cook in camp, so if anyone has suggestions on what to make or how to get started, that would be awesome. And “just cook what you make at home” won’t help at the moment because where we are right now, we don’t cook.
After a semi-restless night of sleep, we closed up shop fairly early to finish the drive and get breakfast in Escalante before hiking to the 100 Hands Pictograph. A few miles from the campsite, we saw signs for Posey Lake and decided to stop and check it out. This was such a cute little lake with a campground right above it. I would love to stay here if we go back again. There were a couple people out fishing, too.
I liked the drive a lot more on the Escalante end as far as scenery went. You’re driving out (or in) through the Box-Death Hollow area, which I thought looked really cool. I’d love to hike around that area someday. Maybe next year! Once we got to Escalante, we got breakfast sandwiches at the Escalante Mercantile and Natural Grocery. This is the cutest little store and we stop almost every time we’re passing through. They have delicious food and coffee along with all kinds of fun goodies and groceries.
On our way home we stopped at the 100 Hands Pictograph hike in Escalante. it’s a nice hike just above the Escalante River. It was only 82 degrees out but it felt like 100. After that, we just headed home. I would definitely recommend the Hell’s Backbone drive if you have a few days in the area. If you’ve only got one, I’d save it for another trip. It’s a nice activity in the Boulder/Escalante area if you want to get out of the desert and see something different.
Tips for driving Hell’s Backbone:
- The road is dirt, but high clearance/4WD is not necessary, but it would be if you plan on going down pretty much any side road. We didn’t feel comfortable going down any in a 2016 Ford Escape.
- There are campgrounds available along the road, fees vary. We stayed at Blue Spruce Campground and it was pretty nice. It had maybe six spots and was $9 per night. it’s got Pine Creek running next to it.
- If you want to be by a lake
- You can do the drive either direction. It connects Escalante and Boulder. Whichever way you go, make sure you see hell’s Backbone Bridge. The views are stellar.