Provo woman becomes 'tourist in my own state' by hiking to mountain letters

Erica Lewis Bradshaw poses with the Wayne County "W" in Bicknell. Bradshaw has hiked 77 of 83 mountainside letters in Utah.

Erica Lewis Bradshaw poses with the Wayne County "W" in Bicknell. Bradshaw has hiked 77 of 83 mountainside letters in Utah. (Erica Lewis Bradshaw)


5 photos
Save Story
Leer en español

Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

PROVO — Erica Lewis Bradshaw has lived in Utah most of her life, but it wasn't until the last four years that she started exploring her home state.

The 25-year-old Provo woman always noticed the many block letters on the mountains while driving down I-15 during southern Utah trips when she was a kid. She had always wondered what it would be like if someone hiked all of those letters in the state, but as she grew older the idea faded into the background.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Bradshaw said she was bored "as a lot of people probably were," and she decided to get outside and start exploring.

"One way to do that was hiking because it can be socially distanced. It came back to me of this goal, and I was like, 'Well, maybe I'll do it,'" Bradshaw said.

So, one day while hiking with a friend, she passed by the Payson "P" and impromptu decided to hike it. Bradshaw hasn't stopped hiking to those hillside letters since.

"It kind of just became a getaway, going on a weekend adventure and visiting places in Utah that I've never even thought of or known about. So it became this fun thing to do with my friends, and I just kept doing it," she said.

Bradshaw made a goal to finish hiking to all of the letters by the time she is done with college. She didn't believe she would be able to do it, but out of the 83 letters in Utah, Bradshaw only has six more to go.

At first, it was hard to find information about all the letters, especially the more obscure letters found in tiny towns, Bradshaw said. Then she found a Wikipedia page that had all of the coordinates of the letters and plugged them all into her maps on her phone.

"It was just kind of showing up to that coordinate and then seeing what it was like. A lot of times I had no context, otherwise, of if it was going to be an easy hike or if it was going to be really difficult," she said. "There are some that are pretty high up there."

Sterling and Erica Lewis Bradshaw pose atop the Snow College "S" in Ephraim. Erica Bradshaw has hiked 77 of 83 mountainside letters in the state.
Sterling and Erica Lewis Bradshaw pose atop the Snow College "S" in Ephraim. Erica Bradshaw has hiked 77 of 83 mountainside letters in the state. (Photo: Erica Lewis Bradshaw)

While some of the letters have clear, defined trails like the Y Trail in Provo, or are just on the side of a hill like the "FG" in Fountain Green, others are not so easy to reach.

The hardest so far has been the Brigham City "B," which Bradshaw said doesn't have a real trail so it felt like she was just climbing over huge boulders up the mountain on a hot August day.

Bradshaw has been documenting her journey on Instagram where she posts pictures, details the pros and cons of hiking the letters and lists tips for future letter explorers.

"I don't know if anyone will be as crazy as me, but maybe there will be someone," she said.

She said it's been awesome to share this experience as she has hiked the letters with lots of friends.

"Even if they didn't make it to the top with me, they drove with me there and they cheered me on. I don't think I would've done it otherwise because I don't know if my willpower is that strong," she said.

Bradshaw will have to hike two letters near Moab and three letters near Richfield between now and her deadline, but her goal is to finish all 83 letters by July 27 when she hikes to the "V" in Centerville that represents Viewmont High School. She is planning to celebrate after she completes it.

"My favorite part about it is I've been able to be a tourist in my own state. I've been able to travel to other places, but I've never thought of traveling within Utah and just being a tourist here," she said.

Bradshaw has made trips out of many of the letters, looking up cool things to do in the areas she was headed, driving on roads she hadn't been on before and visiting towns she didn't know existed.

It's been cool to see the small towns in Utah and find out the little things that make them special, she said, adding that she loves visiting the "cute downtown areas," eating at the mom-and-pop restaurants and meeting locals.

"Even though I've lived here most of my life, in the last three years, I've seen more and I've been able to appreciate the beauty that is here so much more. And so even though hiking the letters is the purpose of why I've been doing all of this, I think the biggest outcome has been such a deep appreciation for this state and the people that live here."

Photos

Most recent Outdoors stories

Related topics

UtahFeaturesOutdoors
Cassidy Wixom covers Utah County communities and is the evening breaking news reporter for KSL.com.

STAY IN THE KNOW

Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the KSL.com Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast