West Desert Ramble & The Pony Express
This itinerary is a slow-paced, yet adventurous drive into one of the few wild frontiers left in the world. It brings together unique scenery, history and wildlife all along the fascinatingly desolate Pony Express National Historic Trail.
Utah's West Desert is sparsely inhabited. Unless we're talking wild horses and stories, then there are more than a few of those. (Read the story along this trail: What Hasn't Been Found)
This itinerary is a slow-paced, yet adventurous drive into one of the few wild frontiers left in the western United States. It brings together unique scenery, history and wildlife all along the fascinatingly desolate Pony Express National Historic Trail.
Utah’s West Desert covers history from a handful of angles. There’s geological and film history in the form of the Bonneville Salt Flats and the unique Basin and Range topography. There’s cultural and religious history in the form of early frontier, Mormon and stagecoach history. There’s even World War II history, and the boom-and-bust tales of mining ghost towns.
The Pony Express National Historic Trail is a bumpy, dusty and remote dirt road. This itinerary requires preparation, but thoughtful travelers shouldn’t hesitate to go out and follow the path of the Pony Express riders. It will be an experience you will never forget.
Preparing for West Desert Travel
This itinerary suggests a loop starting and ending in the Salt Lake metropolitan area. It can be approached from either direction, and done in two days, or even one. Lehi, Tooele or Wendover are the nearest supply points, depending on which section of the trail you depart from.
This route is best attempted by a four-wheel drive vehicle. You should take plenty of food and water, good maps, a spare tire and the tools and knowledge needed to change your tire because cell phones are unreliable in the desert. Ensure your gas tank is full and it wouldn’t hurt to have a 5-gallon gas can and several extra gallons of water in your vehicle. There is no potable water or food available between Camp Floyd State Park and Ibapah (near the Deep Creek Range) on the Pony Express trail. Contact the Bureau of Land Management to inquire about road conditions in wet weather.