November 11, 2013

Robber's Roost Country

On one last trip to Southern Utah before the snow falls, we spent 3 days in canyon country.  The first day, we rode near Robber's Roost, beginning at the turnoff to the Ekker Ranch at Crow Seep. 
Joe Biddlecome built the first cabin at Crow Seep in 1909, when he moved there with his family.  The photo above shows the location, but the main building is obviously newer.  The ranch is still owned by Joe's descendents, the Ekkers. 
Joe lived on 40 acres that featured one of the rare sources of water.  He also had grazing access hundreds of acres of surrounding federal lands.  Before the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 and subsequent creation of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), there was very little regulation, which resulted in a lot of overgrazing.  Over the years several other ranching families moved into the area and also ran horses, sheep, and cattle.  The Robbers Roost outlaws, who had used the canyons as a hideout in the late 1800's and early 1900's, got old and tired of hiding out.  If they'd managed to avoid prison and/or acute lead poisoning, they retired to more socially acceptable professions or moved elsewhere. With more roads making the land accessible to lawmen, young folk tended to find work that was better for their long term health than the old, previously admired, bank-robbing and horse-thieving trades. 
Joe's daughter, Peal Biddlecome Baker, took over the ranch after Joe's death from a tonsillectomy. (Tonsillar abscesses had plagued him for years.  He thought one more episode could kill him, so he finally tried surgery -- maybe not such a good decision, as it turned out.)  Pearl wrote a book about her years on the ranch, Robbers Roost Recollections.
Later, Pearl sold out to her sister Hazel and Hazel's husband, Arthur Ekker.
We rode toward Angel Point (the start of an old horsethief trail across the Dirty Devil) along an old road, and later a ghost road, enjoying the old west scenery. 
This lonely tree somehow manages to thrive on the vast desert plain. 
We didn't reach Angel Point, but we figured out a good route for next time. 
As sunset approached, the canyons turned golden.
And as the sun drifted below the mesa tops, the land took on a rose glow.  The light transforms the land into a magical place, irresistibly beautiful.  Of course, the downside is the quick drop in temperature, from near sixty to somewhere around 20 degrees F for a low.  Brisk!  Camping involves lots of down comforters. 
The night sky in that desert land is as star-bright as in ancient times, with no cities close enough to taint the darkness with artificial light.  Venus was high and bright in the hours after sunset.  The Pleides and Orion were clearly outlined after midnight.  The Milky Way dusted an arc across the sky, and shooting stars shone in a brief trail of glory. 
No photos, so you'll just have to use your imagination. 


  1. I'm using my imagination, Janie - I know that night sky was a sight to behold! Love the red dirt. I hope you and Steve aren't dreaming of becoming robbers and outlaws!

  2. Oh, wonderful colors, I especially love that rosy glow!

  3. Amazing scenery, super photos!!! I would love to explore Utah even more after following your blog. Have a great week Janie :)

  4. I need to make another trip back to red rock country. Wonderful post.

  5. I really like the afternoon light in your last two pictures, but the scenery in all of them is spectacular. Thanks, too, for the interesting history.

  6. the stars are beautiful when there are no lights to dim their brightness. I loved riding along with you today, right here in my own back yard :D

  7. Beautiful desert landscapes. I specially love the ones where the canyons turn golden !

  8. I can just imagine the brilliance of the Milky Way against the darkness of the night sky.
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful views and history.

  9. It is kind of ironic that the robbers had to hide out in an area that many would consider kind of a prison but maybe they liked it.
    I remember as a kid camping out in the deserts of Utah and looking up in the sky and seeing all the stars and every once in a while you could spot a satellite moving quickly.

  10. What a treat to see the land change colour as the light changed. Then to see the sky light up, a rare sight for anyone who lives near cities and towns.

  11. Interesting history of that area, Janie. I always enjoy reading the history…. Loved seeing that LONE tree --which looked healthy. Guess it enjoys RULING the AREA!!!! ha

    The sunset colors are fabulous. Reminded me of what the Grand Canyon looked like when we were there at sunset.

    Thanks for a great post.

  12. Beautiful desert scenes; love that golden canyon.

    Enjoyed your description of the night sky.


  13. I love seeing those canyons turn golden...then pinkish. Who ever said the desert wasn't glorious? NOT me!
    I can only imagine that camping out there under the stars is a heavenly experience. Chilly, but gorgeous.

  14. "magical place, irresistibly beautiful" - uh - YEAH! I'll have to try Pearl's book.
    - The Equestrian Vagabond



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