Last year we spent a little time in Utah, riding the Paiute Trail during the Sevier County ATV Jamboree then stopped for a few days to visit Arches National Park. I was awestruck by the beauty of the place so this year we decided to spend more time in this gorgeous state.
We had a month to get from Mesa, AZ to the Grand Tetons in WY where we will be working for the summer. Guess what sits directly between AZ and western WY…you are right, UTAH!! Did you cheat? Look at a map? Google it? No? Okay, I believe you; it’s a well-known fact that my readers are a smart bunch. Anyway, we set aside a few days in May to (finally) visit the Grand Canyon which was awesome but we couldn’t wait to get on the road and get Vizzini (our Arctic Cat Wildcat Trail side-by-side) out on the trails again.
First stop: Kanab, UT
We originally planned to visit Kanab in order to give Roger the opportunity to enter the lottery to go visit the Wave and photograph one of the most interesting/amazing/enter-your-favorite-hyperbolic-adjective-here spots in the United States. We opted instead to visit some equally adjective rich spots without the hassle and uncertainty of a lottery and a pre-dawn hike.
Our first stop was Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. I used to watch Dogtown on the National Geographic Channel and promised myself I would visit if I ever got to that part of Utah. We went on a tour, met some rescue animals, and I got a cap (my new favorite cap). The sanctuary is situated on about 20,000 acres of some of the most beautiful land in Utah and provides a home and loving care for 1600 homeless animals including horses, dogs, cats, bunnies, birds, pigs, and more. Some of the horses have million dollar views from their pastures! It is a wonderful organization that relies heavily on volunteers and donations so we scoped out some boondocking spots near Kanab and next time we will spend a week or two volunteering there…I can’t wait to be mucking stalls again!
We went to Peek-a-boo Canyon—a slot canyon in the northern part of Kanab near the sanctuary. We met an older couple in the parking lot who were planning on driving their small SUV out to the canyon entrance but were talked out of that idea by the locals and tour guides in the staging area because of the deep sand.
We let them know that the sand makes the hike strenuous; they just smiled and said they had a GPS and that they would find their own way in. Normally, I would not advise this for two reasons: first, if you get lost or stranded, nobody will be coming along in their 4×4 to rescue you and second, we are not in favor of trampling through the unspoiled wilderness. These folks didn’t come across as cocky though; they were quietly confident and seemed like very experienced hikers who really love nature and the wild. So we wished them luck and rode on down the deep, sandy trail.
We had the GPS coordinates for the opening to the slot canyon…well, we THOUGHT we had the coordinates. Um, nope. But we had read several descriptions about how to get there and so we just kept searching, doubling back, and trying different paths until we found it. Actual GPS coordinates: N 37°10.772’, W 112°33.554’
Here are a few of the pictures I took. It was incredible; there was a new view around every corner and the light kept changing. So fun!
There are two sections to the canyon so if you go, you will exit after a few hundred feet. Keep walking ahead and you will enter another, even better slot canyon. Trust me, you will know when you come to the end!
Oh, and about the couple we had met in the staging area; just as we exited the canyon, they were strolling up the wash not even out of breath. We were glad to see them and we were confident they would find their way back to their car.
On the way back to Fezzik, we stopped at a cute little ice cream shop and café called The Three Bears Creamery Cottage. They sell, among other things, black licorice ice cream. I’d never even heard of black licorice ice cream and my brain couldn’t grasp the concept so of course I ordered some. It was incredible but Roger wouldn’t even try it. I guess you’re either a black licorice person or you’re not.
We would have loved to stay in Kanab at least another month but we had to be in the Salt Lake City area for Roger’s job before long and Jim and Brenda and their Wildcat were waiting for us to go riding with them in Sevier, UT. So we got back on the road.
Next stop: Sevier, UT and Fishlake National Forest
Vizzini loves this part of the state. It might not be as awe-inspiring as other parts of Utah but it is very pretty and super-OHV friendly!
We joined Jim and Brenda at their boondocking spot just south of Joseph, it’s always so great to see them!
We got our side-by-sides out and we rode…
and rode some more.
We rode the Paiute trail from Joseph to Richfield and saw deer and eagles.
We rode through aspen forests, we even rode through some snow banks.
Well, we rode through one snow bank, but my courage failed me on the next one when I watched in horror (while yelling, “no, no, no, no!!!”) as Jim’s Wildcat fishtailed on the snow just millimeters from the edge of the trail dropoff. He made it across (barely!) and I just sat there behind the wheel of Vizzini shaking my head muttering “nope, uh-uh, not gonna happen, sorry but nope.” He and Brenda finally tired of trying to coax me across and we realized there was another larger and deeper snow bank across the trail just yards ahead. Time to turn back anyway.
“I suppose you think you’re brave, don’t you?” – Vizzini
“Only compared to some.” – Buttercup
We rode through meadows and we rode through a fir and spruce forest.
Correction, we rode most of the way through the forest. As we got nearer the top, the trail had not yet been cleared after the snows. But did we let this stop us? Absolutely not.
The first obstacle was quickly cleared by Brenda.
The next two logs lying across the trail took a little more effort.
This one finally stopped us. And we could see up the trail that it only got worse. Time to turn back again.
I tried to be sneaky and quiet about it, but Brenda caught me before I could throw a snowball without warning.
I threw it anyway.
Clearly, there were no hard feelings!
The smell of the sage, the crisp fresh air and the company of our dear friends made it hard to leave this part of Utah. But a mouse had moved in which gave me the heebie-jeebies (I didn’t want his friends joining him) and Salt Lake City was calling. Time to move on.
Update: We caught the mouse.
Update #2: Apparently, he had a friend. And it would seem not all mice have an aversion to cotton balls laced with peppermint oil. I found this in the front basement this morning:
Update #3: We caught his friend and so far, it seems we are rodent free. Best of all, we think we have discovered their route in (up the fresh water hose and from there into the basement and beyond) and have plugged it with steel wool. Time will tell.
Salt Lake City/Mantua, UT
Mantua (pronounced by the locals as Man-away) is a little town—population ~700, about 45 minutes north of SLC. The forest ranger in Ogden told us about a dispersed camping area called Dock Flat.
On the day we arrived at Dock Flat, it looked like this:
The following morning, it looked like this:
Have you ever noticed how sneaky snow is? It is so quiet and sometimes arrives without any warning. It is beautiful and lures you in to explore it, play with it and then…wham! Your gloves are soaked, your shoes are soaked and you are miserable all because you just wanted to hit your unsuspecting friend with a snowball…what a jerk snow is! That’s irony; in case you missed it.
Roger had to fly out of Salt Lake City airport to work for nine days so I invited my son, Chris and his girlfriend, Angel to fly up and join me.
To our surprise, Jim and Brenda called and had decided to join us at Dock Flat for a few days. Woohoo!
We had a wonderful time; we went riding with Jim,
springs in Honeyville, UT, played Dominion (of course) and a new game, Zombicide.
We went to see the bison on Antelope Island, made S’mores by the campfire and watched movies until the wee hours. Nothing, it seemed could spoil our fun. Not even the hoards of Memorial Day campers that descended on our quiet little paradise. Hoards I say!
Dock Flat before:
Dock Flat after:
And with the hoards came the cops. In an effort to keep the Memorial Day weekend madness from getting out of hand, the Sheriff’s Dept and the Utah Dept of Natural Resources had teamed up to hold an “administrative” traffic stop at the entrance to Dock Flat. Translation: We just want to talk to you, check your license, registration, insurance, smell your breath and let the drug dog sniff your vehicle. So, did they find any riff-raff? Yes, yes they did. Who? Why, us of course! The drug dog indicated on our truck and we were politely asked to step out of the vehicle while several officers searched it thoroughly. Some of you already know how often my sweet Westley gets searched because of drug dogs…and most of you know how laughable it is that he would be even remotely involved with drugs. For those of you who don’t know Roger well or personally, he is as straight-laced as Vizzini is brilliant. Wait, maybe that’s not the best analogy. Anyway, he may be the Dread Pirate Roberts, but he is no druggie. There must be something in his body odor or chemistry that smells like cocaine or pot because it happens to him every time! I don’t think he’s ever been passed up by a drug dog. But of course they found nothing in the truck except some Lutheran church handbills, crumb-laden cupcake papers, and dog paraphernalia so eventually we were allowed to go on our way.
Fortunately, the crowd was mostly families and ATVers just out to enjoy the nice weather. The most annoying things were one Scottish Terrier who barked all day long and the pervasive smell of bacon cooking on outdoor grills for breakfasts to which we had not been invited.
With the weekend over, Chris and Angel made their way home as did the crowds and I am sitting here with my dogs once again in a lovely, peaceful, and quiet little paradise. As soon as Roger gets back, we are off to the Grand Tetons for the summer. We hope to see you there!