Jordanelle Heber Valley Descent – Bad Roads for RVs is on U.S. Highway 40/ U.S. Highway 189, twelve miles north of Heber City, Utah. It is steep and should be avoided in the winter. In the summer it is a long descent to Heber City with only a few turns and is easy enough for most RVers who understand how to operate their RV or Tow vehicle by downshifting and (when equipped) using the exhaust brake. Vehicles that only use their brakes will have a hard time not overheating the brakes. The real problem will be in the winter.
Of course, you could say that RVs should avoid traveling in the winter in the Rocky Mountains and I would agree. It goes double for steep roads in the winter.
The beginning of descent starts two miles south of Utah Highway 248 and descends towards Heber City. You can see the north end of Jordanelle Reservoir to the east at the beginning of the descent.
In the summer, U.S. Highway 40/ U.S. Highway 189 is merely a steep road but I think you should know what you are getting into before you go there. Really the road is very nice, four lanes wide, and overall the grade alone isn’t a good enough reason to not travel on U.S. Highway 40/ U.S. Highway 189 north of Heber City.
In the winter expect snow and ice. The road is maintained well but melting snow will run across the road and turn to ice nightly making for very hazardous driving.
Expect large vehicles to be traveling at very slow speeds relative to traffic or speed limits.
As for the Utah Department of Transportation, they have adopted twitter to get the most up-to-date road information to the public. They also have their own Apple and Android App. Tweets and App information is on this website. UDOT
Elevation: 6890 feet at the top – 5750 feet at the bottom.
Length: 7 miles – for the steepest section, is after the road is abeam the dam.
Terrain: 5-6% grades on the south side of the summit for seven miles. The steepest areas are not at the top, but warning signs caution preceding the steepest sections.
Lanes: Four-lane highway
Turns: In the steep sections the turns are gentle.
Turnouts: Three emergency vehicle crossings in the steep section of the road in the center divide. Other than that nothing until crossing River Road. (Utah Highway 32)
Turnaround locations: None except emergency vehicles
Chain up areas: One chain up area north of River Road for climbing traffic.
Restrictions: U.S. Highway 40/ U.S. Highway 189, north of Heber City will occasionally close in the winter for deep snow. The approach from the south side will nearly always be open to allow travel to and from the ski areas at Deer Valley and Park City. More likely than being closed, snowplows will continuously operate clearing the snow both night and day, when required.
Runaway truck ramps: None
Jordanelle / Heber Valley Descent, Our Experience
We traveled down Jordanelle / Heber Valley Descent in our RV on September 29th, 2020. We also climbed to the Jordanelle Lake in our RV in 2018. We have also traveled U.S. Highway 40/ U.S. Highway 189, north of Heber City in our car numerous times.
I would not hesitate to travel U.S. Highway 40/ U.S. Highway 189, north of Heber City in our RV — in the summer. For us, it would be a normal travel day. Staying at Jordanelle Reservoir in our RV would also be pleasant, just don’t expect lots of trees or calm winds.
Here is the link to our interactive map. Bad Roads for RVs