About 1,500 people call Ferron home, which is down from the 2010 census by about 9%. Founded in 1877 by three pioneer families, Ferron started as a farming community. Riding into town from the San Rafael Swell 144 years later, I noticed that it is still a farming community.
The town was named after a government surveyor who was sent out from the east under the authority of the Homestead Act to find places suitable for settlement. The party camped by what is now known as Ferron Creek. All the members of the party agreed to name the creek after the surveyor, Augustus D. Ferron, if he would allow them to dunk him in it. He did, and it was named Ferron’s Creek. When the town was settled, they dropped the “s” and it is now the town of Ferron.
Formerly Gillies, a convenience store/gas station in town, has been taken over by new owners in a big way. Now known as Big Mountain Lodge, Brad and Julie Benson have plans to make Ferron a destination place.
Renovations have been underway over the past two years to enhance services that now include:
- Seventeen comfortable rooms complete with a private bath, refrigerator, microwave and a Western theme.
- Seasonal rates are available and rates are lower in the offseason.
- A well-stocked convenience store with a grab-and-go hot deli.
- A new restaurant serving a variety of family favorites with outside seating in a covered veranda.
- A conference room to accommodate larger groups and for meetings.
- A laundromat.
Gas service including non-ethanol blue gas and an air hose.
- A car wash with a power washer for ATVs.
- An RV park.
- A rental service for ATVs, UTVs with trailers, wave runners, paddle boards and kayaks.
The UTVs are four-place Polaris RZR 1000s, which means that a family can ride together or two couples — if you can stop fighting over who is going to drive. I spent two days in the Swell with my friends Fred and Becky Newton in one of these machines. For some reason, we let Becky drive — she doesn’t know fear. It was crazy fun.
Brad has obtained a dealership for a new USA-made UTV built by American Landmaster. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of a RZR, but it is solidly built and it is very capable. This makes it possible to offer a less expensive alternative for customers to rent.
The Bensons have not limited their services to just the town of Ferron; they have concessions at the following locations:
- Scofield Reservoir will have OHVs and watercraft to rent, two teepees to provide a unique outdoor camping experience, and a food truck serving pizza, burgers and hot dogs.
- Huntington Reservoir will have the same rental concession and a food truck.
- Joe’s Valley Reservoir will have the rentals and a food truck.
Named after Big Mountain located west of Ferron, the lodge is ideally situated between two of the best ATV trail systems anywhere — the trails in the San Rafael Swell to the east and the Arapeen Trail System on the west. You can trailer to more distant trailheads or ride right out of town into the wonders of the San Rafael Swell or climb onto the cool mountain trails of the Manti-LaSals.
While guides are available to take you to these amazing places, you can draw upon your own sense of adventure. The lodge provides self-guiding rides through the services of the Avenza Map App. They will assist you in downloading the app if you don’t have it currently on your smartphone, and the maps show the trails you can explore. With Avenza, there is always a dot showing your location on the map. This is an amazing and beautiful country to explore, but you do want to find your way back.
They don’t have GPS tracks available for wave runners, kayaks or paddle boards. If you are fishing, you will need to have a way to find your own fish.
I am excited about what the Bensons have done to bring people to Ferron because when I ride I prefer a comfortable room, a hot shower and a hot meal over camping on the hard ground. It is great to have these facilities as a base to explore these two trail systems.
When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and see what the Big Mountain Lodge has to enhance your outdoor experience.