Editor’s Note: Hartt Wixom has spent more than 70 years exploring, fishing and hunting in Utah, Wyoming and many other wild places. His articles have appeared in Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, and Western Outdoors. He has been a columnist for The Deseret News, Provo Daily Herald, and The Spectrum in St. George, Utah, and has authored several books about the intermountain region. We hope you will enjoy Wixom’s outdoor insights in upcoming blog articles for Nielson RV and Nielson RV Rentals.
Sometimes Smaller is Better!
For a quarter of a century I drove truck and camper. Then, I decided to buy a vacation trailer. I wanted a small, compact unit because I drive so many back roads. No criticism of the big stuff resembling a hotel room on wheels. But I had to get way back in.
It was the first hard-side pop-up trailer I’d seen. This 18-footer goes up in minutes and comes down faster. With a low profile on the road, the driver can see over and beyond. Bumps and dips in the road have little effect. Thus, it can be readily towed it to remote areas.
I had once hauled a tent trailer to Disneyland, Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park and seaside Seattle. But soft-side trailers are not acceptable in some parks and campgrounds because of the possibility of bears and animals clawing/slashing inside. I wanted one with more security.
First Outing: Utah’s Duchesne River Wilderness
My first outing with the new trailer was to the Duchesne River area of Hanna and Tabiona. If there is any remaining unsung natural resource in Utah, it is this rural Valhalla, a little over an hour east of Provo via Wolf Creek Pass. As it turned out, my friends arrived too late for a campfire, so we roasted hot dogs over my propane stove. Gratefully, in this “maiden voyage,” everything worked.
While fishing on the Duchesne River has some problems with “No Trespassing” signs, one can get in and out and around the bridge crossings. There is ample public access on the North Fork of the Duchesne in the Ashley National Forest. Plus pull-offs and several campgrounds. I like hiking from road’s end of this canyon into the Uinta Mountains for trout in a setting of road-less solitude. Rainbows and browns can be found roadside, with brook trout higher up.
One virtually unknown natural feature along the North Fork road is the Great Stone Face. Nathanial Hawthorne and his story of the “Old Man of the Mountain” in New Hampshire have nothing on this phenomenon. Hawthorne spinned the legend that he who came to resemble this “profile” in the cliffs would become one with him in wisdom and prosperity. We find no such legend on the North Fork. Nor is there even a sign. It is just a huge, jutting jaw with nose and eye sockets, easy to miss driving up-canyon but looming large if driving south. New Hampshire made their stone face an official trademark, attracting many tourists. ( I think Utah could so something of the same with this natural feature, especially considering that New Hampshire’s stone face has fallen apart and is no more.)
Some of my favorite deer hunts have been north of Hanna/Tabiona, including McAfee Basin off the Ute Reservation. Tabby Mountain south of these two communities has a large population of mule deer and elk. You can frequently see them by driving the “Golden Stairs” from the Duchesne River road north to U.S. 40. The state several years ago purchased much access here for hunters.
Passing the Test
As for camping, I’ve stayed in many tents in my life; I’ve put them up at midnight in hammering rainstorms. But with age, I’ll take a trailer. Of course, with the latter one must take care of propane and battery. Some take a generator to keep the battery charged. One must decide on the priorities. But whatever your favorite method of getting out, get the rig which fits your lifestyle. Beach or mountain, park or pavilion, let the entire family, one way or another, enjoy the wonderful world of the outdoors. In your style of comfort.