As a child I use to have a reoccurring dream (or maybe one would call it a nightmare) that my parents and I would be in our family truck driving up a mountain highway so steep that our truck would tip over. I would always wake up just before we tipped completely over. The scenery was familiar and only after I explained this dream to Drama Papa years later he said “that sounds like Lookout Pass”.
Lookout Pass is located in Idaho and my family and I often crossed it throughout my childhood. It made sense that it could appear in my dreams, however, we never had any catastrophic accidents nor do I remember anything that could trigger a reoccurring dream. It is a mountainous road with steep grades of 6% that even to this day take my maximum concentration while navigating them.
I’m sure you’re questioning why I’m rambling on about a mountain pass in Idaho when I should be talking about Highway 12 in Utah. Well here’s why – I thought Lookout Pass was the scariest road until I got to Utah’s Highway 12.
Sure Highway 12 started out just as the guide-book had said ‘a nice drive with amazing scenery… the most scenic drive in Utah…” The highway teased me with it’s beauty, long roads meandering through the valley floor, allowing me to get comfortable, even turning the cruise control on… But hold on, what’s that??? There was no mention of climbing high mountains and taking nose dives down cliffs. And at one point I was pretty sure we were traveling along the ridge of a mountain – just the road and two cliffs… no guard rails – nothing to keep Boomer and I from plummeting to our death!
Obviously we made it because I typed this post up and you are now reading it and not an obituary about Boomer the sweetest dog ever and his owner, Brittany, who took him on a misadventure.
In fairness to the highway I was probably more concerned about driving these steep hills because I had ruined my brakes earlier in the trip… however I had never seen such steep grades in my life, 8 to 14%. Who the hell said 14% was OK?
Not that I want to highlight my sissyness, but I looked up what the steepest road on record was. It is Baldwin Street in New Zealand at a whopping 35%. Now let’s all envision how I would manage driving that road if a mere 14% has me whining like a baby.
We stopped along the way so I could catch my breath and take in the dynamite scenery. It was a picturesque sunny day with high wispy clouds pleasantly scattered across the sky. I could not have asked for better weather. And let’s be honest I probably would have had a stroke if I had to drive the highway in the pouring rain that we had experienced most of the days earlier.
I guess what I am saying is that I think Lookout Pass in Idaho can take a backseat to Utah’s Highway 12. But is Highway 12 worth the drive? You bet – check out that beautiful desert with all that glorious sunshine!
The drive back was a little better and at least I knew what to expect. I put the truck in low gear and went for it… low and slow!
If you would like to test your driving abilities (or fears) Utah Highway 12 Scenic Byway is located near Bryce Canyon National Park.