Utah Traverse 2020


I wonder where that trail goes?
This lunch spot would be a great campsite. Let’s drop a GPS point in case we ever return.
We’ve been looking at those mountains for the past 3 days; let’s explore there some day.

Overland adventure can be addictive that way. The more you get out, the more you want to get out. We love exploring Utah, and have taken numerous trips, but when a fellow Arizona Land Rover Club member planned a Utah Traverse trip, we jumped at the chance to join the crew.

The trip was truly exceptional -- the scenery, the camaraderie, the vehicles, the communities opening after Covid-19, the rhythm of travelling new trails and setting new camps for 10 days, the new and renewed friendships -- all incredible!

Of course, the scenery and adventure are the primary draws for a trip across Utah. Here are a few photo highlights:

Typical trail shot (photo credit: Doug Lawyer)

Alstrom Point, with Navajo Mountain in the distance

Along the Virgin River, near Zion

Exploring the White Pockets (technically just over the AZ border)

Descending Honeymoon Pass into St. George basin

3 generations on this trip: 70-somethings, 50-somethings, 30-somethings, and one rambunctious adolescent dog (photo credit: Doug Lawyer)

Rather than providing boring biographies (and probably getting details wrong), I'll summarize that we had a great group of experienced travelers and a great trip leader. Everybody came to the trip with well maintained vehicles and necessary provisions (recovery equipment, emergency first-aid, and daily provisions). And everybody was experienced to know what a 10-day expedition would entail and came prepared with the little extras they needed to make it comfortable and fun -- from steaks to fresh salad to cold orange juice and beer.

The human element was probably the biggest variable pre-trip and the biggest success of the trip. Everybody was ready to leave every morning. When the inevitable trail mishaps occurred, everybody pitched in to help. We shoveled snow for 1/2 an hour to get past a snow drift on the Henry Mountains only to find another drift 1/2 mile ahead that was impassable.

Trail repair - after 3 Utah Traverses, Andrew's tire carrier broke a weld

No matter how great the plans, once the trip begins, the trail will throw a few curves. When plans did go awry (too windy to camp at Alstrom Point, deep and long snow drift stopped us from traversing Henry Mountain, the sign reading "Trail Closed 5 Miles Ahead" blew over in the wind - we noticed it after back-tracking) everybody adapted with grace and patience.

A snippet overheard when approaching Andrew and Joan's camp one morning: "Joan, it's another blue-ribbon day." What a great attitude from our septuagenarians. A trip like this can bring out the best or worst in people, and we were fortunate to have good travel companions. Friendships forged on the trail are some of the best.

As an interesting coincidence, we had 3 Rebelle Rally veterans on this trip. Laurie and Thayer have both participated (although different years and hadn't met before this trip), and our trip leader Doug served on the support team for the rally:

Laurie and Thayer with dusty Rebelle Rally stickers on the vehicles
Trip rhythm

One of the joys of a longer trip is getting into the the daily flow of the journey. Every trip is different (new/different equipment, bringing along our dog, etc.), so it was interesting to see how we got better at the process of breaking camp and hitting the trail every morning. Our experienced trip leader also had many good campsites predetermined, so we always had great overnight sites where we could explore upon arrival and in the morning. We had some long days, but we always had time to stop at interesting spots along the way and enjoyed plenty of time outside the vehicles every day.

Morning coffee prep (photo credit: Doug Lawyer)

Laurie exploring near our campsite - always with a cup of coffee!

Packing up and ready for another great day on the trail!

Map time! After getting camp set, we'd usually go over maps

Camp is set and time to enjoy each others company and cold drinks (photo credit: Doug Lawyer)

Mothers Day dinner feast (green pork chili verde burritos and cold beer)

Campfire is lit and time to watch "channel 1" - I'm happy to report that we solved all the world's problems - or at least escaped them for a while

We traveled east to west across Utah, starting near Canyon of the Ancients on Colorado border and meandering across the southern part of the state. Without getting into a turn-by-turn route, here is a sample of the route.

(to be continued)​
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(Continued - ran into the photo limit I think)
We traveled east to west across Utah, starting near Canyon of the Ancients on Colorado border and meandering across the southern part of the state. Without getting into a turn-by-turn route, here is a sample of the route.

Morning at out staging campsite near the CO / UT border

Chocolate Fins near Canyonlands NP

Burr Trail switchbacks

Burning Hills, - you can see smoke, feel heat, and smell sulfur from burning underground coal seams

Laurie at Alstrom Point. The wind was blowing a gale, so we scrapped plans to camp here

It may not be much, but we call it home - stopping to explore an abandoned cabin (photo credit: Doug Lawyer)

Steep, sandy section near Zion

We made a little detour to White Pockets, just over the AZ border - it's so insanely, otherworldly, incredibly beautiful

Campsite along Honeymoon Pass (photo credit: Doug Lawyer)

Made it to the NV border
I'm saving Obie the dog for last because dogs are not my intended audience. That said, the experience of bringing him along was one of the highlights of the trip. We adopted Obie about 1/2 year ago and had taken him on a couple shorter trips, but taking a dog on a long trip with other people was a big unknown variable. Everything turned out fine.

Obie thundered along the banks of the Dirty Devil river - like the adolescent he is, just having a blast running fast, banking in the soft sand, splashing in the shallow water. He was a joy to watch.

Laurie and Obie cooling their heels after a long day on the trail

Hold onto your ears - windy day at White Pockets

Obie's travelling configuration

Glamour shot (photo credit: Doug Lawyer)

Until the next trip...
->Google Photos album with many more trip photos and videos


Thank you for sharing your great trip report with us all. Utah never disappoints!

I noticed Doug Lawyers name as one of the participants (or leader). We went on a Hole In The Wall Tail trip with the Arizona Landrovers that he organized in 2012 which was fantastic. It looks like you had a fantastic time on this trip as well.

So many fantastic places to explore - so little time!


Hi Greg, yes it's the same Doug.
Amazing how his trips always seem to turn out well :). I know he has organized and participated in trail leader training events, with Bill Burke and JIm West leading the training, so he's super qualified. But more so, he's a great guy who really enjoys the details of planning a trip and fosters a great camaraderie and is a good friend.

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