One Of the Steepest Highways in the United States Is In Southern Utah
The steepest highway in Utah is in the southern end of the state and is also one of the steepest highways in the entire United States entering in at number 5.
Route 143 between Parowan and Panguitch has a portion with a 13% grade. To give you an idea how steep that is, new interstate highways are only allowed a 6% grade. Highway 143 is more than twice that.
If you have ever driven a road this steep, you feel like the vehicle is going to do a wheelie and roll over backwards. Even though it feels dangerous, going up isn’t the part you should be worried about, it’s going down where the accidents occur.
I met a radio listener a few years back who drove a cement truck through this area. He described how the brakes went out and he did his best to navigate the tight turns as his speed increased. At one point he could no longer maintain control and went over the side. It was a miracle he survived at all.
Route 143 is also known as the Patchwork Highway from an event that happened back in 1864. The people who had settled Panguitch were out of food in the middle of the winter. Some men made their way through the mountains towards Parowan.
At one point the snow became so deep they almost gave up until they discovered that the patchwork quilts they brought helped them walk on the snow without sinking. They eventually were able to bring flour back to their families.
If you do drive route 143, do it in the summer or the fall when the leaves are changing. You don’t want to face that steep grade in the snow, unless you have chains, or a good, heavy quilt.