One Tank Trips
Discover our backyard playgrounds. Here are five family friendly adventurous places in Utah’s remote regions that are just a tank away!
If you’ve ever driven between Salt Lake City and St. George Utah on Interstate-15 you’ve either passed right through Beaver Utah or most likely stopped for gas and goodies at the exits. Maybe some of you have gone skiing at Eagle Point Ski Resort located in the Tushar Mountains east of the city, or stopped at the Creamery for a homemade ice cream cone. A few of you might even know of the two famous people who called Beaver their birthplace. Ten bonus points if you know the answer. Robert Leroy Parker, aka, Butch Cassidy, and Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of the television.
As things turn out, Beaver is a pretty cool place for outdoor recreation and alpine beauty. The Tushar Mountains are the jewel of the area, their towering 12,000 ft peaks can be described as a splash of the Colorado Rockies. They’re home to a healthy herd of mountain goats that thrive among the bald peaks above timberline where lush meadows abound. But wait, there’s more! Mountain biking, fishing, golfing, rock climbing, hiking, rock hounding, and off-roading, and more. In fact, the world famous Paiute ATV Trail is smack dab in the middle of Tushars. Oh, by-the-way, there are no crowds here! If you are looking for solitude where you can ramble with plenty of elbow room, this is the place. If you want the rest of the story, you’ll just have to find out for yourself. Here’s a good place to start! Ramblersutah.com
If you’re now curious enough to check Beaver Utah out for yourself, here are a few recommendations to to help eliminate some of the legwork. Best Western Paradise Inn, located east of the freeway at exit 112, that the north exit. This beautifully remolded hotel offers modern amenities guest have come to expect from Best Western including FREE breakfast, indoor pool and spa, and on-site restaurant. Click here to learn more. Kan Kun Mexican Restaurant is located west of exit 109 on the south end of town. Check out the Enchiladas Verdes, muy bueno! Kankunrestaurant.com To work those calories off, Tucker High Adventure Tours offers retail, rentals and guided ATV, mountain biking, backpacking, backcountry skiing/boarding and snowshoe tours. Go with the experts who can show you the ropes! Tuckerhighadventuretours.com
Escalante or Escalant as locals call it, was named after Silvestre Vélez de Escalante, a Franciscan Priest and early explorer who searched for a route from Santa Fe New Mexico to Monterrey California. You’ll hear or see his name often as it is attached to many popular area attractions, and points of interest. This small town of around 800 people is located on Utah’s world famous Highway 12 that is considered one of the most beautiful scenic byways in the U.S. and one of only a handful of roads in the U.S. receiving the prestigious All American Road designation.
Escalante is a natural hub for exploring a lengthy list of well-known adventurous and scenic places in this south-central part of Utah. At the top of the list is the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, a vast colorful array of canyons and badlands where the term “lose yourself” could have literal meaning. Other popular places include Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Devil’s Garden, Calf Creek Recreation Area and Lower Calf Creek Waterfall, Hole In The Rock Road with its many slot canyons and historic significance to the settling of Utah. Escalante is an easy day trip to Bryce Canyon (50 miles) and Capitol Reef National Park (73 miles). For more information about Escalante and its many adventures visit Visitutah.com
For a town this size there are an ample services for lodging, places to eat, guides and outfitters. Canyon Country Lodge Escalante’s newest hotel located on the east end of town that offers large guest rooms, modern amenities, indoor pool, hot tub, and FREE breakfast. Canyoncountrylodge.com Craving pizza? Two words, Escalante Outfitters! This is one of our favorite stops whether we’re staying in Escalante or just passing through. Try out their gourmet sandwiches, salads, pizza, and pastries. Escalanteoutfitters.com Translated, Escalante means adventure. Okay, I made that up but this is the staging place for the many adventures in the surrounding landscape. A good place to get help for seeing this landscape up close and personal is High Adventure Rentals and Tours. Offerings include Jeep and UTV rentals and tours. If you prefer human powered adventure, they also offer guided hiking tours.
Nicknamed Utah’s Little Hollywood for the many movies filmed in this southern Utah town’s classic landscapes. Kanab is just seven miles from the Arizona State Line and centrally located to Zion National Park, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Abrakanabra is Kanab’s current moniker but the area was formerly known as Park Central, I wonder why?
Kanab is every domestic animal’s best friend as in Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the world’s largest no-kill domestic animal sanctuary located in a beautiful canyon north of town on Highway 89. Peak-A-Boo Canyon, also north of town, is a great family friendly slot canyon where no ropes are needed but you will need a vehicle that can get you through the deep sandy washes. Better yet, use one of the local tour companies. If coming from the east, Lake Powell side, don’t forget to wave, but you’ll need a permit to do so. The Wave, the infamous hike by lottery, is located in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and just a short drive away from Kanab. If you’re not one of the lucky daily 20 for the Wave, not all is lost, there is plenty more to see and do. Here’s the short list; White Pocket, Buckskin Gulch, Toadstools, Grosvenor Arch, Paria Canyon. Get all the goods by visiting Visitsouthernutah.com.
Here are a few suggestions to consider for planning a visit to Kanab. Canyons Boutique Hotel, charming Victorian style Inn on the north end of town with the amenities of a luxury hotel with a killer restaurant onsite. Canyonshotel.com Speaking of killer restaurants, voilà, Sego Restaurant. Located in the Canyons Boutique Hotel, this is fine dining at its best. Chef Shon Foster will dazzle you with his culinary magic, check out the website to see what I mean. Better yet, check it out in person! Segokanab.com When it comes to knowing all these places I mentioned above, wouldn’t it be great to have someone to take you there? Someone who knows them like the back of their hand? I know someone, Dreamland Safari Tours. You just show up, they’ll do the rest. Don’t forget the camera! Dreamlandtours.net
Sitting pretty at the junction of scenic byways 12 and 24 is Torrey Utah, which we like to call basecamp for Capitol Reef Country adventures. Best known for its namesake, Capitol Reef Country offers much more than its dome shaped peak park. Say that five times as fast as you can. How about Cathedral Valley? Wait, that’s still Capitol Reef! It’s the backside of the park with pointy pinnacles, and off the pavement where few people go wandering. Get off the pavement, lose the crowds, that’s how we roll! As tour guides we know where the crowds are and we know how to lose them. Cathedral Valley is a crowd stopper, trust us!
Did you know that mars and the moon landed in this region. Moonscape Overlook is located between Caineville and Hanksville north of hwy 24 near Factory Butte (big landmark, can’t miss it). Not far from there you’ll find Mars, or at least the Mars Desert Research Station. This part of the state strays from its variations of red, orange, pink, and white that are typically seen in southern Utah, to shades of silver, gold, purple and green. Mancos Shale, Chinle Formation, and Morrison Formation have something to do with that, ask a geologist. These are Utah’s badlands, which look pretty good to me. For more information about Capitol Reef Country visit Capitolreef.org
Need a great recommendation on where to hunker down for the night and where to get a juicy steak? Broken Spur Inn and Steakhouse Located at the top of the hill near the junction of highways 12 and 24. Offerings include comfortable rooms, restaurant, indoor pool, with views that never end! Brokenspurinn.com If hoofing it for miles and miles is not your thing for seeing the sights of Capitol Reef country, I have a solution. Take a UTV tour with Fremont Fishing Guides. I know the name says fishing but they offer more activities than you can shake a pole at, including fishing. Check out their list of services at Flyfishingsouthernutah.com
How did a northern Utah destination get on the list with all these southern destination? Glad you asked. It’s Dinosaurland, need I say more? Okay, I will. Just 170 miles east of Salt Lake City via highway 40 near the Colorado state line, Vernal is another one of my basecamps suggestions for exploring area adventure. In this case, northeast Utah, which includes hunting those allusive dinosaurs. Vernal may not be mentioned in the same sentence with mountain bike giants like Moab and St. George, but it holds it own with single track trails that will knock your socks off.
Did I mention dinosaurs? How about Dinosaur National Monument, the grand daddy of all dinosaur places that’s located just down the road a bit from Vernal at the town of Jensen. Speaking of big fish, or were they birds? I digress. Flaming Gorge, where reeling in trophy size trout is a regular occurrence is found north of Vernal. Located to the east is the Green River that flows through Dinosaur National Monument. This where you will find some of the West’s most exciting and adventurous river rafting through places with cool names like Gates of Lodore. For those who prefer water that stands still, Red Fleet State Park is an excellent place to test your skills at standing on a board with a paddle, or better-known as stand-up paddleboarding. For all things Vernal visit Dinoland.com
If you’re visiting a place called Dinosaurland, shouldn’t you stay in a place called Dinosaur Inn & Suites? Makes sense to me. Outdoor pool, comfortable rooms, great location, especially since it’s adjacent to my favorite Italian restaurant on planet earth. Antica Forma Pizzeria is a splash old Italy right here in the middle of Vernal Utah. Best Napolitano pizza this side of, well, Napoli. Buonissimo!