Dirt Roads: Veyo-Shoal Creek

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By July the heat was getting intolerable for me. It was getting hot enough that soon i would not feel comfortable driving out into the middle of nowhere on unknown roads, so at the beginning of the month i made one last dirt road excursion. I was looking for ways to get Kona out where it wasn’t so hot, so I decided to try the nearby Veyo-Shoal Creek Road, named because it was an old historic road connecting the small town of Hebron. Hebron was founded in 1869 and before that there had been a fort for a few years previously during the Black Hawk’s War of the 1860’s. The war was associated with the militaristic march of Mormon pioneers into Native territories. The town also had problems with water from the very beginning. Shoal Creek was named so because the water didn’t even flow continuously down the stream bed, sinking into the sand for long stretches. By 1902 it didn’t matter anymore because Hebron was destroyed in an earthquake.

Looking across Moody Wash towards Pine Mountain from on top of Long Ridge (it is, indeed, long).

Looking towards Veyo Volcano and the Beaver Dam Mountains. I think Biglow Ranch is on the far left.

The first few miles of the road are rough and Kona was wanting to get out so i took her up one of the mountains.The Bull Valley Mountains.

From this high you can see a tilt to the rock. These mountains, while not dramatic, are a nice change from both the Mojave and the Colorado Plateau. They remind me of the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

At about the halfway point are the ruins of a large building across from a dry stream. General Steam is a ghost town founded by Leroy Albert Wilson in the 1920’s. Wilson was an excommunicated Mormon due to his steadfast refusal to abandon his polygamous ways. Wilson got a bunch of investors from all over the world to invest in his steam power plant that he said he would use to mine ore in the Bull Valley Mountains. Nobody got a return on their investment, so it was a good thing he lived in the middle of nowhere. His greed soon got the best of him though, and when the U.S. government needed lots of Uranium to make Nuclear Bombs he bought a Geiger counter and headed to Kanab as a uranium prospector. Soon after he was murdered over claim jumping. At the time it was a sensational story, even featured in Time Magazine (link to un-paywalled story). Today there is nothing left of General Steam except the foundation, some big fruit trees and scattered junk. It’s especially uninteresting on a hot day (so i didn’t take pictures) but if you must know what it looks like here’s a video of the area.

Flat Top Mountain and in front of it are cliffs of ash on what i think is called Maple Ridge.

Walking on the ash formations.

Looks ideal for exploration but the ground is choked with dense packs of miniature oaks.

Like everywhere else in SW Utah most of the forests burned down in the last 10 years.

 

It’s hard for me to remember right now but the road is around 20 miles long, certainly less than 30. Much of it is above 5,000 ft, at a few points even above 6,000 feet. It crosses the Bull Valley Mountains which themselves are bisected by the Great Basin Divide (more notable than a state line). The most interesting part of the road for me though, is an area called The Pinnacles. Straddling the Utah/Nevada border in this region were one or several super volcanoes from a very long time ago that blew themselves to pieces. The geology of the region hasn’t been fully described but there are numerous areas where thick ash deposits are exposed to the elements and are being carved into interesting features. At the time of my drive i had no idea about that so i was pretty excited when, coming around a corner, the landscape completely changed. Later in the year i found other areas even more impressive.

Towards the north end of the road is a ranch area at Grassy Flat. The horses looked happy, and the air temperature was noticeably cooler than back where we started the drive.

The dirt portion ends and the road becomes paved for the last few miles. Enterprise Reservoir looks very inviting but last year it was so dried up that the water was very scummy.

From Enterprise a loop can be made back to Veyo along State Route 18. Baker Reservoir, while also low, had better water in it last year for swimming.

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Follow Adam Elliott:

Photography, Business Owner

I am a business owner from Alaska who has worked as a freelance photographer for over a decade specializing in journalistic, corporate, resort, architectural, travel and landscape photography. I've been recognized by National Geographic and published internationally. Above all else, exploring is still my favorite activity. I've travelled moderately around the world and visited all but one of the U.S. States. Currently I make my home in southern Utah. For references or requests please contact me: wordsforadam (at) yahoo.com

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