September 28, 2011

Roadless in the Books

The roadless area of the Book Cliffs encompasses about 100 square miles.  Sego is one of only a few trailheads leading into this vast wilderness. 
In the early 90's, with the mission of promoting wildlife habitat in the Book Cliffs, The Nature Conservancy and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation bought a chunk of land from four ranches that controlled the water sources and the BLM leases for this area (the east Tavaputs Plateau).  Those two groups then transferred ownership to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR), with certain requirements that natural habitat be maintained. 
Thus, this land is now protected from development.  Only hunters and the occasional hiker or horseback rider venture into it. Keeping the area roadless was controversial at first, but now hunting permits for the area are highly prized. No vehicles means more and healthier game, as it turns out. Duh. That doesn't seem so surprising, really.
Here is the view from the sandy trail (once a road) that travels along the top of Went Ridge, the first 1.5 miles of which travels through Ute Tribal Land.  After that, both sides of the ridge belong to the UDWR.  We rode a game trail that leads west into the west Willow Creek drainage.  On the way down, we heard a bull elk bugle and caught a glimpse of his huge rack, just before he and his herd of elk cows melted into the aspen. 
At the bottom of the hill, we went right past an old camp with evidence that hunters had found some big game.
  The horses and Daisy enjoyed the water in Willow Creek. 
A (ferruginous?) hawk soared overhead.
Grass was chest high on Mischief in many places.  Daisy sometimes disappeared completely.
In one spot, the trail led through two generations of fences.  The newer one up front has a metal gate and fence rails put together with a drill bit and rebar.  The older gate and fence are made of poles tied together with wire. 
About 9 miles from the trailhead, we came across the old cabin you can see in the distance.  We went closer to explore, but those photos will have to wait for my next post.


  1. I would say that keeping the area roadless was a very wise decision. The scenery is magnificent. I'm looking forward to seeing more of the cabin.

  2. Although I find the sign a little confusing I sure like the scenery being protected. Those are some really nice looking racks.

  3. What a great privilege to travel in this country.I look forward to the next instalment:-)

  4. Sort of reminds me of the landscape in the Sonoran dessert that we hike a lot in the winter months. What I see is moun tains filled with large trees and cacti and wide open space and the odd horseman/woman passing us along the way!
    Beautiful country you show!

  5. My dad shot a big bull on the book cliffs the first year it opened up. He had a huge rack that he took to a taxidermist and had it mounted. I know George Bush likes to come hunt on the Tavaputs.

  6. What a beautiful and private area! I love the undershot of the hawk...great job!

  7. Looks like a great ride, Janie... Glad you put on your Tennessee Orange ---to keep from getting shot out there !!!!!

  8. I think it's great that this land has no roads through it. Bravo to the Nature Conservancy!

  9. The Autumn colors are dotted across the mountainside like a Monet painting.
    I thank you and Steve for letting me tag along, Janie.

    Happy trails,

  10. What a wonderful adventure and great photos. I have missed reading your posts, there is always so much history in them. Thank you for sharing your adventures Janie.



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