If You Can't Hike – Take an ATV Ride
By Mark Havnes
While the areas around Kanab offer stunning hiking trails and scenic highways, most exist on the margins of incredible vistas, deep canyons and solitude that one can only experience by an all-terrain vehicle.
We’re talking about going beyond mere four-wheel drive passenger vehicles to what are commonly called side-by-sides, produced by companies that make other recreational machines, like personal watercraft and snowmobiles.
Made for as many as four people, the little buggers can easily crawl like mechanized insects over rocks and through ravines that would give a horse pause.
There are plenty of such designated trails spidered across Bureau of Land Management lands, including the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Three such trails adjacent to Kanab worth considering are Hog Canyon, Peekabooo Trail and Barracks Ridge.
Where hiking and horses can lead to superb areas, distance one can travel is limited by endurance, time, water and food. But an ATV or side-by-side can plunge ever deeper into the red-rock splendors millions from around the globe come to experience every year.
Traveling more than 50 miles a day is possible with a side-by-side, as most have areas for hauling gas, coolers, camping equipment and even tables for serving lunch on a ridge while enjoying a bird’s-eye view of the earth spread out below.
Free maps designating what roads and trails in the backcountry are designated for recreation can be picked up for free at the Kane County Office of Tourism at 78 South 100 East in Kanab.
If one wants the experience, but does not have a machine, the travel office can suggest tour operators who offer trips of various duration. There are also rental vehicles available at several locations.
The BLM offers free maps, in addition to maps for sale with more detailed information. They suggest motorized explorers first stop at agency visitor centers located in towns bordering the Monument, where they can ask questions about recreational designated routes, safety requirements, camping and other issues.
If you go:
• The sun can be searing, so take plenty of water, food, sunglasses, hat and sun screen. Temperatures and weather can fluctuate, so prepare for stormy weather and have some warm clothing. Roads can change suddenly, so be aware of approaching storms and weather reports. Stay out of slot canyons when it rains, as they can turn into deadly flash floods.
• Communications are spotty for cell phones. Satellite phones are best to travel with.
• Don’t be a pig. If you take it in, take it out. Admire ancient petroglyphs and pictographs sites without touching them or defacing them. If you need to let people know that “Bobby loves Mary,” draw it on your bedroom wall and not on a canyon wall.
• Never leave designated trails and travel cross country, as you risk being cited by BLM rangers. Remember, you are a visitor surrounded by a fragile ecosystems that can be easily damaged. Respect the earth and leave no trace.
• Most importantly, drink in the beauty and enjoy!