A good Colorado friend first told us about Nine Mile Canyon in Utah. The canyon is often called the “worlds largest art gallery”. Throughout the canyon are hundreds of Fremont and Ute Indian rock art panels, both pictographs (painted) and petroglyphs (carved or pecked).
In addition to the rock art you can hike up the hill to view the remains of a Fremont era pit house, and as you drive through the canyon you will view many old homesteads from early settlers and the remains of forts from the Calvary. If you happen to be in the canyon at dawn or dusk you will see elk and mule deer.
When our friend visited Nine Mile Canyon she traveled from Grand Junction, Colorado to Wellington, Ut. We were north of the area in Vernal, Ut. so we took the Nine Mile Canyon National Backcountry Byway. The important words in the name of this road is “Backcountry Byway.” Byway is defined as “a secluded, obscure, or little-used road.” I should have maybe taken the title a little more literally before planning our route. We met one vehicle in our 45 mile journey that took close to 3 hours. The road was narrow with long inclines and very steep winding declines and large drop-offs with no guard rails. The steepest and winding part of the road was not paved for about 6 miles. To understand the significance of this lengthy explanation you must remember we are pulling a fully loaded 30 ft 5th wheel.
Once we finished our last decent out of Gate Canyon and turned west into Nine Mile Canyon Karl’s white knuckles disappeared and I quit pushing the imaginary brake on my side of the truck and we both relaxed. The view was spectacular, cows grazing in lush green fields and evergreen covered canyon walls on one side of the road and grand rock formations on the other.
Soon we arrived at Nine Mile Ranch Campground.
We were greeted by Ben and Myrna, the owners. The campground accommodates tents, rvs, and has old-time cabins and a bunk house. There were only 3 tents and a couple in the bunk house, and our RV. After setting up the trailer and feeding our poor cat that endured the ride in the trailer shower, we went back to visit with the owners. They have owned the ranch for 17 years, running the campground and working a full-time ranch. They function with only solar power and a back up generator.
They have 900 acres with cows, horses, chickens, rabbits, and an occasional visit from bears. A very nice hard-working couple!
We spent the rest of our evening walking, watching the animals, and just soaking up the peacefulness and beauty.
Early the next morning we packed a picnic lunch and took off for a road trip through the canyon.
Part of the art work is clearly marked and can be found with the help of the pamphlet but you must look hard to find the rest.
We hiked and explored the canyons and I believe we found a large percentage of the sites.
We returned to the trailer tired and ready for a hamburger. We both went to sleep to the quiet patter of rain on the trailer and woke deep under the covers with the temperatures in and out of the trailer in the low 50s.
After breakfast and a good-bye visit with Ben and Myrna we headed to Wellington and then on to Price to visit the Utah State University Eastern Prehistoric Museum. The museum is divided into an archeology area and a paleontology area. It was well worth the $12 admission fee.
If you are interested in the past and looking for a peaceful retreat with warm days and cool evenings and fantastic scenery Nine Mile Canyon may be the place for you, just approach it from the south not the north.