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Old 11-09-2020, 09:01 PM   #1
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Utah West Desert Road-trip

Part 1

We take a springtime trip through the Utah West Desert. Almost 300 miles of dirt road. We stop at a wildlife reserve, take a dip in several hot springs, look at funny shaped rocks and find a big hole in the ground.

Monday, May 4, 2020

We left home and drove straight west for about 120 miles. After leaving the pavement near 5 Mile Pass, we were on dirt road for the next 220 miles. The first 90 miles of dirt were on the Pony Express Trail.

The trip along the Pony Express Route was nice and there was very little traffic or campers along the way. We probably only passed 4-5 other vehicles. It took us about 2-1/2 hours to drive to the Fish Springs Wildlife Preserve.

This preserve is in the middle of nowhere. It has over 10,000 acres of water and is pretty much the only water in the area. Therefore is it used by all kinds of migratory birds as a stopping point.

Due to the pandemic, the visitorís center was closed, but Eva was happy to see that the bathrooms were open. There were several houses where the rangers live, but we didnít see any of them around. We drove out into the preserve and parked between a few ponds to eat lunch.
Unfortunately, it was a little too early in the year to be in the desert. I was hoping to see the green grass and wild flowers, but most plants were still dead from the winter, but near the water, the green was starting to come out.

From the preserve we continued west to Snake Valley and drove south through the valley. We continued through Trout Creek, which had a church and one or two other houses, and then through Partoun, where the West Desert High/Jr High/Elementary School is at.

We heard from one of the ranchers that they normally have 1-2 graduates each year, but there were none for 2020, so they didnít have to worry about canceling graduation due to the pandemic. There were several ranches spread out through the valley. Some look big and prosperous, and others not so much.

Our camp that night was at the Gandy Warm Springs. We arrived around 4:30 pm and had the place to ourselves. After getting camp set up we took a dip in both the lower pool and upper pool.

Gandy is not a hot spring, but a warm spring. The water is around 80 degrees. It took a minute to settle into the water, but once you were in the water it was nice. The water is crystal clear and has none of the minerals or algae that many hot springs have. The upper spring is just below the hole in the mountain where the water comes from and is slightly warmer, so we spent most of our time there.


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Old 11-09-2020, 09:12 PM   #2
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Part 2

May 5, 2020

Before breakfast the next morning we took a walk to up the canyon for a mile or so. It was a good way to stretch out for the morning. We ate breakfast and broke camp around 9:30 am.

From camp we headed east along the old Hwy 6/50. It is completely dirt, but in nice shape. Our first stop was in Marjum Pass at an old Hermit Cave. The cave is a ways up a narrow and rugged canyon.

From the BLM web page: The Hermit's Cave was constructed by a man named Bob Stinson. Bob served his country in World War I. Upon returning home from the war he learned that his girlfriend left and married another man. Heart broke he decided to travel to Delta Utah to visit his brother in 1929. While making his way through the Marjum Pass just 45 miles from Delta Utah; Bob's house on wheels broke down. Looking for shelter Bob located a small natural cave in the side of a canyon. By using local rock, he enclosed the front of the cave which is now known as the Hermit's Cave House, or Hermit's Cabin. Bob was often called the Hermit of Marjum Pass. The government paid him to keep the pass clear of debris, as it was at the time the major east/west highway from Delta to Nevada. To earn extra spending money he trapped bobcats and coyotes, mixed poisons for the government to kill grasshoppers, and he even raised a handful of sheep. When Bob would have visitors, out of the greatness of his heart, he would offer them a glass of home brew. In 1951 Bob lost his road job when the new paved highway was built several miles to the south. Bob, then in his 70's, moved into Delta to be near a few more creature comforts. At the age of 80 when Bob passed away he was cremated and his ashes were spread at the base of the rock house he built in Marjum Pass.

We drove another 20-30 miles of dirt road to the West Desert Sinkhole. The last 5 miles, Google maps took us on an ATV trail, but it was not too bad to drive the van on. We ate lunch at the sinkhole and then continued on towards Delta. After about 220 miles of dirt road, we were on pavement for the last 50 miles to Delta.

Before we got to Delta we stopped at the infamous RaPower-3 solar site. This is the site of a large scam against the government that made the owner millions of dollar. All that is left on the solar site are the decaying ruins of the solar collection towers, lenses, equipment and buildings.

We then drove to the site of the Topaz Internment Camp. The entire camp is surrounded by a fence, but nothing is there by sagebrush and foundations. There was a parking area in the north-west corner that had several monument that told the history of the site.

After getting gas in Delta we drove 20 mile north to the Baker Hot Springs to camp for the night. These springs were not a clear and fresh as the Gandy springs, but they were hot. There are three concrete tubs that had a small ditch of very hot water running down the side. You could regulate the temperature by opening or blocking the hot water inlet into the tub.

We took a dip in the hot tubs before dinner and it was real nice to soak in the hot water. There was only one other guy camped in the area and we only saw him later in the evening while we ate dinner as he walked over to the tubs.

It was a nice evening and a pretty warm night.


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Old 11-09-2020, 09:23 PM   #3
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Part 3

May 6, 2020

I went for a short walk in the morning to try and find the source of the hot water, but the trail turned into a wet marshy area that I could not get through. We left camp at about 9 am and drove to Delta. Delta has the cheapest gas we have seen, so we topped off the gas tank.

From Delta we drove south on the Pahvant Valley Heritage Trail. This is an all-purpose trail, through the west desert, that starts in Delta and ends near Fillmore. The first stop was Fort Deseret, just south of Hinkley. There is not much there, but the ruins of the adobe fort walls from an 1800ís era fort the pioneers built.

We then drove through the Clear Lake Wildlife Refuse to the Lace Curtain rock formation on the north side of Pahvant Butte. This was pretty interesting and we spent some time looking at the rocks and walking through the area.

Our next stop was the Devilís Kitchen Petroglyphs. We had a little trouble finding the place. We had GPS coordinates from the internet, but they were totally wrong. It appears everyone on the internet copied the wrong coordinates. However, we passed a county sign on the main road that pointed in the direction of the petroglyphs. There were a couple of miles on the ATV trails, and no more signs. We finally arrived at the site and was able to explore the rock formations and the petroglyphs. After eating lunch we drove back to the Clear Lake road.

Our next stop was the Meadow Hot Springs, however, there were a lot of people in the pools and more were arriving, so we decided not to get in the water. It was about 4 pm, so we drove to our planned campsite near the Tabernacle Hill Lava tubes. The last 3-4 miles were pretty rough, but we finally set up camp on the mesa in the middle of the lava flows. We started to relax and read, but not long after setting up camp, the wind started to blow. It was blowing pretty hard and the weather forecast predicted high winds until midnight. So we quickly packed up and drove back down the road a mile to a spot that was in a small valley. The wind was much calmer there, however, it still blew for most of the night.

May 7, 2020

We were up early and drove to the hot springs. We hoped there would be no one there, but to our surprise, there were 10-11 campers/RVs in the parking lot. The last time we stopped at these springs there were No Camping signs in the area, but I didnít see any this time, so camping must be allowed.

Fortunately, most of the campers were still asleep or in their RVs. It was not too crowded and for a few minutes there were only 3 of us in the water.

After about an hour in the water we walked back to the van. Since we were driving on pavement the rest of the way home, I re-inflated the tires back to the highway pressure. We drove about 300 miles of dirt road for this trip. Nothing was too rough, and some of the roads were smooth enough to go 50-60 mph. But there were still a lot of areas of washboarded roads where it was nice to have a lower tire pressure.

Overall it was a nice spring trip through the west desert of Utah.
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Old 11-09-2020, 11:52 PM   #4
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Looks like it was a great trip! Thanks for taking the time to write it up and show the pictures!
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Old 11-10-2020, 12:06 AM   #5
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Great trip report. Thought I'd seen a lot of that area but good tips for next time. Thanks!
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Old 11-10-2020, 04:03 AM   #6
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Great trip and report. Thanks for posting. So many places one can go see in the US.
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Old 11-10-2020, 12:39 PM   #7
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Thanks for a great read... really enjoyed it. Kinda makes me laugh that I've passed many of those areas on the pavement and didn't know what else is out there.
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Old 11-10-2020, 01:08 PM   #8
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Fun trip! Dont know you'd get me out of those Hot Springs, especially if there was a "naturally formed" cup holder close to the edge.
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Old 11-10-2020, 02:05 PM   #9
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Cannot see any of the photos... only little blue boxes with question marks. Mac Safari browser. Oh well.
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Old 11-10-2020, 04:27 PM   #10
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Thanks for sharing your account of the trip. Sounds like it was a good one!

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