Riding an ATV from the northern border to the southern border of Utah has been done before. It takes six days to do it sensibly, if you can make sense of it. We were going from south to the north and we only had five days available so we decided to begin in Kanab and end in Kamas.
Choosing a time to go was a challenge. Sections of the trail reach almost 11,000 feet. It takes snow a while to melt up there. Fires have also closed sections of this trail in the past.
We chose to leave Kanab on the 29th of June. Drivers took our rigs back north to have them ready for us in Kamas on the following Friday. It was an eerie feeling watching those taillights leave Kanab that night before, realizing we were now committed.
Hotel reservations were made along the route and our machines were street-legal, knowing we would need to ride some highway to connect routes. I had ridden each section of the trail so I had GPS tracks to follow.
We were 16 people on four ATVs and three UTVs, escorted out of town by a cool morning breeze with no rain in the forecast. We couldn’t ask for better weather.
After a short sprint on Highway 89, we turned west into Trail Canyon and followed Kanab Creek. Working our way through the willows in the creek bottoms, we came to an ATV bridge that took us across a wide section of the creek. Our widest machine was 64 inches so we easily made the crossing.
Passing back over the highway, we traveled east onto the Hog Canyon Trails. These are true desert trails – sandy, dotted with yucca and prickly pear cactus, sage brush, and juniper trees. The trail was quite calm until we reached the entrance to the Mosdell section of the Hog Canyon Trails.
I was riding with Steve Lindsay of Bountiful in a Polaris 4 900 so I didn’t have to pick the line in climbing this first steep scramble. He did well and the machine made it easily to the top. It wasn’t the last of the Moab-type challenges we encountered, there were several more and we successfully clambered up them all.
We came out on the east side of this trail system at the Crocodile Staging area. Turning north on the Johnson Canyon road, we traveled about a mile and a half before we turned off into Nephi Pasture. This section of trail was characterized by colorful buttes stained with reds, whites and tans with sheer walls rising hundreds of feet from the valley floors.
We dipped down into Snake Canyon and while we didn’t see any, we did see a lot of lizards. Like the Count on Sesame Street, we love to count lizards. We counted 25, ha-ha-ha!.
We passed Timber Mountain and dipped into Adam’s Wash before we turned onto the Deer Springs Road and stopped for lunch in Meadow Canyon. These stops are great social events. We had a rider from Louisiana, five from Utah, and 10 from Arizona. We sat around chewing on cherry Twizzlers bragging about who had the biggest tires.
Lunch over, we entered Crawford Canyon and climbed to Crawford Pass where there is a nice rest area. We took time for a nine-mile trip to the Pink Cliffs and a view point that allowed us to look back along the trail we had ridden. We could see it for miles and miles. It was an amazing view.
Leaving Crawford Pass, we picked up the trail alongside Crawford Creek and then into Coyote Hollow where we followed Podunk Creek. I think it is fun to know that there is a Podunk Creek, and that I didn’t make it up. If that wasn’t fun enough, we found a Blubber Creek and later turned our nose up at Skunk Creek.
As we approached the east side of Tropic Reservoir, we came to Tropic Spring. This is a fenced area that has a little rock structure with a spout on top that was constantly running cool, clear spring water. It was a delightfully refreshing place to stop.
Continuing past Tropic Reservoir, we came to Highway 12 where we found gas and went to the Bryce Canyon Pines for our first night. The first leg of our trip was 103 miles. When you go take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down, and see what you won’t see unless you get off the highway.