A Gateway to Utah’s Outback!

June 2022 – The wonderful slogan on every license plate in Utah is: “Life Elevated.” This refers, of course, to the extraordinary red rock hoodoos, spires and bridges that abound in southern Utah and to the towering mountains that dominate the northern part of the state and also to the overall gorgeousness and good feelings Utah exudes. Our lives are definitely elevated every time we visit the state.

Genesis Supreme toy hauler at Hoover's Rest Area - Life Elevated in Utah

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We have been moving in a northerly direction as the June temps heat up and, as is usual for us, we’ve been staying off the interstates and traveling on country highways and byways instead.

We find these roads are not only more interesting, but are often in better shape than the interstates, and we’ve found we’re much more likely to bump into special places we’ve never heard of before.

Such was the case when we saw a blue sign saying “Rest Area ahead” and decided to turn off to stretch our legs. As we turned into the rest area, we thought we’d stay for 10 minutes at most. A few hours later, we finally pulled out again! It was a beautiful and unusual little spot.

A Rest Area in Utah

Is this a Rest Area or a National Park?

Right next to where we’d parked the rig was a sign, “Please, no overnight camping.” We’ve never seen “Please” on a sign like this before. How unusual!

RV parked at a Rest Area in Utah

No overnight camping…please!

Our trail scout, Buddy, noticed a trail we didn’t even see, and he led us down to a pretty tree-lined stream.

Stream at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

Ahhh…a cool and shady stream!

And then he took us up another short trail that went high up on a bluff where we had views of jagged peaks in all directions. What a spectacular place!

Scenery at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

We had a wonderful view from up on a bluff.

We noticed two spires framing two teepees in the distance. What was that?! We had to go down and find out more!

A Area in Utah with Teepees

Hey, there are teepees down there!

We scrambled down and followed a dirt road that went towards the spires. We hunted around but never did get a very good view of the teepees. However, as we walked along the dirt road, a guy we’d seen unloading his mountain bike from his Lance camper back in the parking area suddenly rode past us. Hmmm….where was he headed?

A few paces further on, we found another towering rock spire that had an old western town of store fronts at its base!

Spire at a Rest Area in Utah

At the bottom of this spire there’s a cool old western town of storefronts.

A babbling brook tumbled over rocks and boulders, making a lovely composition with the western town in the background. Our cameras were going full speed and we were loving it!

Babbling brook and rock spire with western town front

The western town is over the river and through the woods.

The old western town appeared to be on private property, but we still got a good look at it from the road. There was a hotel, a saloon, a mercantile store and a jail — everything you need!

Old western town store fronts at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

A taste of the wild west!

Buddy was having as much fun as we were. He ran all around excitedly, so full of life!

Running pup in Utah

This is one happy pup!

As he zoomed this way and that, we snapped pics of this unique place. A tree was in full bloom with beautiful pink flowers.

Beautiful pink wildflower in Utah

Springtime!

A little further down the road we came across a collection of boulders and stone spires that had a swinging bridge between them.

Swinging bridge at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

This could be fun…but I think I’d like some railings!

One towering rock had metal hand-holds affixed to it so you could climb the rock face without rock climbing gear!

Ladder Rock at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

“Awesome view at the top…Agility and strength required!”

The road crossed a little bridge, and when we got to the other side we heard a side-by-side coming up behind us. The guy sped by and then another side-by-side crossed the bridge behind him.

Side by side crosses bridge at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

A side-by-side followed us over the bridge.

I was snapping photos of the second UTV crossing the bridge when the driver slowed down and stopped next to me. I looked in the door and his passenger was holding a video camera. “We’re YouTubers!” the driver said excitedly.

“Cool! We’re bloggers!” I said. “So, you were filming me as I was taking photos of you!”

He laughed and handed me his card for their channel, Our SxS Adventures with Curt and Charlene. “We’re just getting started with it.”

YouTubers SxS Adventures

YouTubers showed up in blue — out of the blue!

Curt went on to explain that this trail was part of the huge Paiute ATV Trail system and the guy ahead of them was a local guide who was going to show them the best spots. He suggested we grab our RZR and come along with them!

But we’re kinda Slow Road / Picture Taking UTV riders, and we weren’t sure we could keep up. We aren’t adventure side-by-siders at all. We stop all the time on our RZR and we get out every mile or so to take photos. What’s worse, in UTV terms, is that we turn around when the going gets any tougher than pretty flat ground! So, we wouldn’t have been good company for them!

We thanked them for the invitation and followed them up the trail a little ways as they drove off. The view around that bend was stunning!

Beginning of the ATV trail at Hoover's in Utah

How inviting! Where does this trail go??!!

Curt was right. We just had to go back to the trailer and grab the RZR and do one of our slow-poke rides. Thanks for the inspiration, Curt!

This was only our second time unloading the RZR from the back of the toy hauler, so we were really pleased that, unlike the first time, it went smoothly and didn’t take any longer than unloading it from our old flat bed utility bed trailer that we’d towed behind our fifth wheel. Yay!

Walking the trail at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

Lured by the possibilities on that trail, we walked back to get the RZR.

We’d first heard of the Paiute ATV Trail system at the Quartzsite RV Show back in January. A fellow from Piute County came to the show to let folks know about the wonderful ATV/UTV riding all around the county, and I ended up chatting with him for while. We had hoped to ride some of the trail system on this trip but hadn’t figured out exactly where, when or how. This little impromptu intro was perfect!

The theme of dramatic cliffs framing both sides of the trail that we’d glimpsed when we were on foot continued for the first few miles of the ride. It was gorgeous!

ATV trail at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

The trail took us between towering canyon walls.

After a few twists and turns between these fabulous canyon walls, we just had to stop and get out and sniff around (Buddy) and take some photos (us).

ATV trail at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

We’d barely gone a half mile before we stopped and got out!

We were very happy campers!

Happy photographer

I love these kinds of adventures.

Wildflowers and rock cliffs in Utah

A spray of penstemon flowers gave the scene a splash of color.

We continued on with Buddy leading the way on four paws. He’d run ahead and then wait for us or come back to see what was holding up the slow poke grown-ups.

Dog on the ATV trail at Hoover's in Utah

Our trail scout runs back to tell us what’s ahead.

Other folks were out enjoying this beautiful trail too.

UTV on the trail at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

Other side-by-sides were out on the trail too.

A side by side on the ATV trail at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

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A stream ran alongside us and then crossed over the trail in front of us. A water crossing!

It was just a few inches deep and the RZR handled it fine. Again, our cameras urged us to stop the RZR and get out. Further down the trail, we caught sight of a fantastic waterfall. Out we went again!

That’s how we roll in the RZR…ride a little and walk around a bunch!

Photographing a waterfall in Utah

Mark and Buddy check out the stream.

Waterfall at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

The waterfall.

Next to the waterfall was the carcass of a 1950s era car on its side. It was half buried in the dirt and had lost everything but its rusted metal frame long ago. We suspected that kids might have deliberately rolled it over the edge as a lark decades ago. At least, we hoped it was that and not a car crash!

Rusted car frame by a waterfall

Who knows what happened here, but hopefully everyone was okay.

Mark and I were having a ball taking photos in this particular spot where the water splashed vigorously over the rocks. But Buddy isn’t as into photography as we are. He sniffed everything that was sniffable in the area and then laid down for a little rest.

Our pup waits patiently by a waterfall in Utah

Our trail scout took a break while we milled around the waterfall taking photos.

After a while, the trail narrowed and became quite rocky, and the views of exotic rock formations were replaced with thick vegetation on each side. We weren’t sure how much further we’d have to ride before the views returned, and the going was getting rough. So, we decided to turn around, get lunch in the toy hauler and continue down the country highway we’d been on (US-89 south of Sevier).

Right before we got back to the beginning of the trail, we noticed a small building with a paddle wheel deep in the woods. We got out one last time to explore and we spun the wheel for a fun pic. The structure was too new to have been an original paddle wheel from way back when, but it was a neat find.

Paddle wheel at Hoover's Rest Area in Utah

Off the trail, we spotted a small building with a paddle wheel and a flume.

Before leaving the rest area, we visited the restrooms and were impressed at how clean they were. For a lonely spot in the middle of nowhere, I was surprised to see a woman cleaning them. But she disappeared before I could ask her who managed this very interesting place.

We hopped back in the truck and hit the road again all full of smiles. Unexpectedly, our “boring” day of driving had turned into an exciting day of exploring. This little gem will go down in our memories as a sweet mystery deep in Utah’s hinterlands!

Genesis Supreme toy hauler RV in Utah

We’ve found that taking the slow road often brings us gentle adventures that are really fulfilling.

It is unanticipated moments of pleasure like this that are our favorite aspect of this lifestyle. We wake up with one agenda in mind (if any), and within a few hours we’re doing something completely different that’s even better!

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14 thoughts on “A Gateway to Utah’s Outback!

  1. What a charming “unexpected” adventure…with “Tour Guide”, Buddy !

    Yes, lots of “the best things in life” are totally unexpected, “off the cuff” and, therefore, even more gratifying than the carefully “choreographed” tourist package. And Buddy seems to know just when to take a break….for a restorative nap..

    Love, Mom

    • Buddy loves any and every excursion and he was raised on hiking trails so he’s a natural when it comes to route finding. We’ve gotten ourselves a little disoriented (well, lost) before, and he always seems to know how to get us back to where we started. Sometimes we have to take a detour with him to chase a squirrel or a rabbit, but he knows his way home, wherever home is. As for napping, he and Mark are expert nappers. Buddy will complain if Mark gets too busy to lie down with him for a nap in the afternoon. He’ll paw at his leg and grumble a bit and run back and forth to the bed trying to show Mark what he wants and lead him there. As soon as Mark lies down, it’s lights out for Buddy. It’s very cute! xoxo

  2. So great to meet you at the farmer’s market in Idaho Falls! What a joy to read and I’ve got a few days of reading ahead oif me to get caught up on the latest trip! What a joy to read about your adventures and see the excitement in your faces matching the excitement in your stories here! Love, love, love it!

    • Wow! Bryun, how wonderful to hear from you!! Thank you so much for checking out our site! I had a slice of your yummy sprouted wheat bread this morning topped with my homemade almond butter. Perfect combo — so delicious! Chatting with you yesterday was a highlight of our day. It is such a thrill to come to a new place as total strangers and be welcomed with such warmth. I felt like we could have talked for hours! What a delightful farmer’s market that was and what a totally cool town you live in. I’ll be writing about it all soon with lots of great pics to share.

  3. Another excellent adventure! We are on one as well. We pulled our Spyder up to the Blue Ridge Parkway today and I’m sitting under an almost full moon on our balcony at the Pisgah Inn as I read and comment on your latest blog. A famous picture 😉, or at least a fav of mine, popped in my head this morning as I was loading the Spyder on the trailer for our trip up. I was in our storage building and I asked “Alexa” for some 70’s rock as I worked to get things loaded up. First up was ZZ Top followed by King Harvest and Dancing In The Moonlight. Now, I can’t hear that song without seeing the cacti dancing to the music under the beautiful moon. I found myself smiling and thinking how happy I was to have my old adventure buddies back on the road and bringing their adventures to life for all of us that ride along. Thanks for another excellent story, expertly told and skillfully documented in photos! We all secretly want to grow up to be y’all!
    J. J111

    • Oh my. Thank you, Jeff! I can just imagine you humming along to the tunes with a smile on your face as you loaded up your Spyder for your trip. Hearing Dancing in the Moonlight was one of those special non-coincidental coincidences, I’m sure! We are thrilled to be back on the road and oh-so-happy to be sharing our stories with you again. Our cameras haven’t seen this much use in well over two years and they’re loving it too. Enjoy your stay at the Pisgah Inn and riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway. What a beautiful place.

  4. What a beautiful area you happened to stumble onto. Utah is blessed with some of the most spectacular scenery in America. I must confess, though, that when I first read the title of your blog I thought you must be referring to the rest area just west of the San Rafael Swell on I-70. THAT is something to see, also!

    • Gosh, David, we’ve explored the San Rafael Swell (long ago…and need to go back!) and we sure loved it, but we didn’t stop at that rest area. We’ll have to be sure to do that when we do get back! Utah is an incredible state. The red rocks knock our socks off every time, but the mountains are exquisite too and still have snow on their tip-tops even now in mid-June!

  5. Buddy is pretty smart – he found the trail! I love your stories – and this was, once again, about the roads less traveled!! Thanks for taking us along on your Utah discovery!!

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