Skip to main content
| Neal Johns | Trip Reports

2009 Trip Report - Red Desert of Wyoming


The Red Desert of Wyoming

June-July 2009

By Neal Johns

This trip was led by an attractive young blond named  Marian, who graciously let me come along in her vehicle. She had several DEers  sign up, but just before the start, they all chickened out except Reda Anderson.  You know Reda, she will go anywhere for any reason. Perhaps the chickens found  out I was going along? Feliz, Marians fuzzy child is, like Reda, always ready to  go, so residing on the dog shelf behind the seats, she drooled on my neck the  whole trip.

Why the Red Desert; because Reda suggested it and Marian  had never heard of it nor had she been there. A Desert Explorer needs no better  reason! Sadly, we started the trip immediately after Lorene Crawfords funeral.  We drove until 9:00 p.m. and camped off I-15 near Mountain Pass.

The next morning found us headed toward northwest region  of Zion National Park, the first of many shortcuts on the way to the Red Desert.  A great floral display was enjoyed by all. Reda had a flat, but we gave her  another chance to straighten up and allowed her to continue with us. We camped  on a side road in the boonies amongst wildflowers.

In Cedar City, Reda got her flat fixed and Marian led  her astray into a nearby pawn shop. To my horror, this was the first of many  pawn shop and thrift store stops. Have you noticed that Husbands are a dying  breed? Probably because of things like this. Afterwards, we continued on to  Cedar Breaks (which should be renamed Dead Spruce because of what the Englemann  Spruce Beetle has done).

Off to Paragonah Lake and then to the Parowan Gap  petroglyph site which has hundreds of petros alongside the highway. Camped in  the boonies up Beaver Canyon.

Spent the day fixing Reda. Reda has problems; a little  black cloud hangs over her head. Bought a new CB because hers squealed all the  time; went to the Verizon store where a nice lady spent hours (seemed like)  teaching her how to use her new Blackberry. The list goes on endlessly. :-) The  one I like best was when she forgot how to shift out of four wheel drive. Sigh.  She got even with me though; there was a little, very little, cover plate  alongside the shift lever that said Shift Unlock, and she asked me what it was.  I muttered something like DiLithium Crystal Calibrator and asked her for the  operators manual. She had it in the glove compartment and it said: Using a  screwdriver, pry up this cover, then insert the screwdriver and push downward to  release the shift lever if it will not move out of Park when the battery has  died. Huh? Never heard of such a thing but I didnt tell Reda.

Drove to Bridal Veil Falls (lots of water) and then Hwy.  189. Many scenic spots like Spring Cascades which has several large, steep,  rapids. Went down a dirt road following a creek with many beaver dams to a  beautiful (and free) campground alongside the creek for the night.

Important! The next stop was Savers Thrift Store in  Orem. Sigh. I cant remember all the little towns thrift stores we stopped in.  Next was the Deseret Thrift Store. I remember this one because a nice Tamale  Lady was peddling tamales in the parking lot. Outstanding! Went back for more.

Rock Springs! We made it to the jumping off place for  exploring the Red Desert! Rock Springs is a nice little town with a history of  mining and ranching. After getting a bit of information at the local BLM office,  we drove to the White Mountain Petroglyph site. Not great petros, but not bad, a  short hike got our blood flowing. A lot of elk were depicted and several  anthropomorphs. Next, we headed for the Boars Tusk, a solitary volcanic plug  sticking up from the plains. My GPS showed several two tracks going to the Tusk  and naturally I picked one that shortly proved impassible. Another one got us  there and after circling around it, we had lunch nearby. We then headed north  toward the visible dunes. They were rather low and not very spectacular to our  jaded California eyes. Lots of power was required to get through the blow sand  that occasionally covered the road.

Our goal was an alleged natural wonder called The  Pinnacles. They were somewhere north, and on the way we saw three of the  illusive Desert Elk wed read about. They are the largest Elk. Strange, because  desert creatures are usually smaller. Lots of Pronghorn Antelope tried to outrun  our vehicles.

We could find no roads on the maps or GPS that went to  the Pinnacles so we took the closest road and it turned out to be a poor two  track. Nearby low hills precluded seeing the Pinnacles, but finally we found a  very faint two track that pointed near them. Taking it was great fun; no one had  used it for years. There was one go-around to cross a washed out arroyo that got  our attention but proved to be no problem. Then we came to a spot where we could  look off right to where the famous, presumably stately, tall, spires stood.  Nothing but low mounds of mud. Could these be.yep, we were looking at The  Pinnacles. My theory is: They were married and that naturally wore them  down.Ouch! That hurt, Marian! We camped by an old barn and it rained and blew  all night.

Leaving the area for Rock Springs, the occasionally  graded road was muddy and slippery. We barely kept out of the ditches alongside  the road. This ended the official Red Desert trip but we kept going (with Reda)  to Thermopolis where we saw the hot springs, the adjoining bison park, the  nearby petroglyph site, and the local museum. Continuing to Cody, our timing was  off to see the big Stampede Rodeo. Camped near the city dump.

Onward we went to Red Lodge and Billings where we  married off Marians youngest son, Jon and picked up Redas 15 year old  granddaughter, Melody. Then we went to Riggins, Idaho for my family reunion, and  finally after three and a half weeks, home. Well, there were a few shortcuts.

Got a message from Redas Blackberry; she has locked  herself inside the car. Sigh.