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Old 10-28-2004, 10:59 AM   #1
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In catching up on reading materials after our summer travels, I ran across the article "The Portals of Paradise" in the August 2004 issue of Highways Magazine. The article states "Utah's unique state Highway 12 combines an engineering feat with breathtaking scenery" and the accompanying photos show a large motorhome negotiating the roadway. The author stated in part: "I can't recall a more beautiful drive in 40 years of motorhoming." But, he didn't mention any grades or suitability of this road for motorhomes.

It sounds like an interesting, scenic route, but I had always been led to believe that this road over the Grand Staircase Escalante from Panguitch to Torrey was a mountainous road with narrow roadways, steep grades and switchbacks. My Mountain Directory West confirms that, stating that some of the grades are in the 10% to 11% range. Has anyone negotiated this road in a large motorhome? Would be interested in your comments.
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Old 10-28-2004, 10:59 AM   #2
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In catching up on reading materials after our summer travels, I ran across the article "The Portals of Paradise" in the August 2004 issue of Highways Magazine. The article states "Utah's unique state Highway 12 combines an engineering feat with breathtaking scenery" and the accompanying photos show a large motorhome negotiating the roadway. The author stated in part: "I can't recall a more beautiful drive in 40 years of motorhoming." But, he didn't mention any grades or suitability of this road for motorhomes.

It sounds like an interesting, scenic route, but I had always been led to believe that this road over the Grand Staircase Escalante from Panguitch to Torrey was a mountainous road with narrow roadways, steep grades and switchbacks. My Mountain Directory West confirms that, stating that some of the grades are in the 10% to 11% range. Has anyone negotiated this road in a large motorhome? Would be interested in your comments.
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Old 10-28-2004, 05:45 PM   #3
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I plan on doing it this summer, starting at Zion (thru the Mt Carmel Tunnel), thru Rerd Canyon, Capital Reef, Escalante, and on to Moab. I've done it many times in an SUV but this will be the first RV trip. It is a great drive and you'll never see so much scenery change during that day's drive. I don't recall anything that would preclude me from taking it in an RV. If there are any 10% grades they can't be very long so I wouldn't expect any problems, especially for a modern DP like your's.
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Old 10-29-2004, 06:21 AM   #4
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From Mountain Directory West: "There are many steep grades along this 130 mile stretch of road. Most of these grades are fairly short but can be in the 8 to 12% range. The longest grades are south of Torrey, Utah. About 23 miles south of Torrey there is a summit called Round Top Flat. The northbound descent from the summit is a curvy, stairstepping descent of about 6% for 5 1/2 miles. Then there is a section of rolling hills for about 4 miles followed by 10 miles of stairstepping grade, some of which is 8%." It goes on to describe other grades, including "There are more short, steep grades between Escalante and Henrieville including a one mile stretch marked at 12%."

Every thing I've read about this area talks about the spectacular scenery, and as you say, sounds like not a problem to negotiate the grades with a modern diesel coach. My co-driver however, is quite reluctant to go. She uses the brakes on the passenger side of the coach quite often. <G> So, I was hoping to hear from someone who has driven the route.
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Old 10-29-2004, 09:01 AM   #5
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We drove it this summer. We left Bryce after a casual morning breakfast and didn't quite make Torrey by dinner. We stayed at a National Forest Campground about 10 miles from Torrey.

It's a heck of a drive. I didn't expect it, and didn't plan for it to take as long as it did. We have a 31' Winnebago V10 gasser and no toad. We did see a few other motorhomes, not parked on the side of the road, but driving. 12% grades at 8,000 feet or so are quite a workout.

It takes you from what you expect Southern Utah to be, desert, to thinking your in Colorado in the mountains. Our campsite at the National Forest Camp Ground (Oak Creek?) was wonderful. Two more campgrounds just past it were much more open though, we barely fit ("I've never seen a motorhome in that site" to be exact.), but we were ready to stop when we saw thw first place. We could have used an area that isn't really part of the Camground too, a trail head of sorts for the off road crowd. It was just an open area where folks obviously camp regularily.

Have fun.
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Old 10-29-2004, 11:40 AM   #6
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Thanks for the info, tderonne. You stated: "We drove it this summer. We left Bryce after a casual morning breakfast and didn't quite make Torrey by dinner. We stayed at a National Forest Campground about 10 miles from Torrey.

It's a heck of a drive."

Yes, 12% grades at 8,000 feet are a load on a gasser. My diesel would not suffer from the altitude, but from your response, it definitely is a mountainous road, though not as bad as I had been led to believe. Thanks for your response.
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Old 11-02-2004, 10:33 AM   #7
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It is one of the most spectacular drives in the Southwest. The longest/steepest part is in the mountains toward Torrey. Nothing a good gasser or diesel can't handle. Only one spot is especially scary and it's called the "Hog Back". It is a good well maintained two lane highway with a few small towns along the way. The shops on either end of the Bryce to Torrey route 12 carry bumper stickers that read "I Survived Utah 12!" Don't miss it! The Grand Staircase area is fantastic!!!
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Old 11-02-2004, 03:23 PM   #8
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We did this drive with a 40 ft. dp pulling a toad in Oct of 04.

Great drive, fall colors were wonderful and we never felt unsafe.



we did
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Old 11-07-2004, 09:39 AM   #9
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We made this trip over SR12 in May 2004. We had a 1990 Southwind with 454 Chevy engine and towed a rav4. This was a memorable part of our trip this spring in beauty and seanic vistas. Yes, we worked hard on the inclines and carefull coming down, moved over to let traffic pass. Loved it all and will do it again with our new motor home. Big rigs should use the Single tree campground (USFS). Great place to eat is the last lonesome cafe just out of Boulder just before you start up going east.
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Old 02-07-2005, 07:31 PM   #10
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This is a very scenic drive.

If you like hiking, Calf Creek Falls
makes a pretty picture. Hike in the AM as the canyon heats up as the sun gets overhead.
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Old 02-11-2005, 03:16 AM   #11
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We have done this on our Harley some years back and recently, (August, 2003), in our MH towing our Silverado. Great memories both times. Some grades but very doable.

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Old 04-19-2005, 07:51 AM   #12
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went across in a 40 ft Bluebird towing a jeep.
no problems
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Old 04-19-2005, 08:44 AM   #13
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Man....the secret's out!! This IS the best scenery I've seen...have done this the last 2 years and am going back this June again, however, I'll probably go into our "Heaven" from the north- the south entrance through Escalante is brutally steep, but do-able.

Pulling a 37ft WW Toybox, full of water and fuel, and toys (sandrail and 2 bikes). New trailer will be a 39ft for the new Jeep, so I've got to make sure the tranny is serviced!

I'm gonna find out how to post pictures on iRV2 so I can "share" this Utah treasure with everyone...stay tuned!
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Old 05-06-2005, 10:59 AM   #14
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Ok, more of you are finding out that Utah has more than snow! This is one of best scenic roads in the state, and some excellent camping (Forest Service) areas around. Also can do the National Parks, as well as the GS-ENM. We were there last fall, as the colors changed, and enjoyed a week of solitude on Round Muntain. Enjoy Southern Utah!
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