Dwell with Dallas
10 Social Distancing Approved Short Drives
While we patiently wait for Social Distancing to end, I know I can’t be the only one getting restless and bored. Day trips break up the monotony of social distancing, you open your eyes and stimulate your mind, it can inspire creativity, deep thoughts, and conversations, reflection, and discovery. Pack your favorite snacks and drinks or grab some curbside pick up before you head out. Turn up your favorite playlist and hit the road. We are surrounded by beauty and the weather is perfect! Here are my favorite short day drives (where you’ll definitely be 6 feet away from anyone else)! What I love the most about just going for a drive is the spontaneity, you can just go for it!
1. Joshua Tree
This beautiful place is the only spot where you’ll find Joshua trees in Utah, and it’s also the farthest north point in the U.S. to find tree yuccas. The Joshua Tree Natural Area covers 1,052 acres of federally-protected land. It was designated in 1966. The area is just three miles from the Arizona border, and you can reach it in about 40 minutes from St. George.
Take Old U.S. Highway 91 from St. George. Travel through Santa Clara, then through the Shivwits Paiute Reservation. An alternative route from St. George is to take I-15 south, crossing into Arizona to Littlefield. From there, take Highway 91 north to the landmark.
You won’t find an official sign for this landmark, but you’ll know you’re in the right place when you begin to see the Joshua trees on the side of the road.
Grafton is the most well-known ghost town in the state, and if you’ve never visited, now’s the time! To reach the town, take UT-State Route 9 to Rockville. Drive over the bridge across the Virgin River, then turn right onto Grafton Road. Make sure you’re prepared before heading out. There are no services out there, and no water. Keep in mind that the road becomes impassable after a rainstorm.
Stop and explore the graveyard right before you get to town. Read the headstones, and you’ll learn of some heartbreaking tragedies. The hardy pioneers who settled this little town were plagued by all kinds of hardships.
Grafton is the most photographed ghost town in the West and is absolutely picturesque.
Gunlock is one of my favorite local spots during the spring and summer. We 4×4 over the river and cruise to the backside of the reservoir. This path requires skilled off-road drivers and takes you right to the top of the Gunlock Waterfalls.
It’s extremely rare to see these Utah Waterfalls. We’ve had the pleasure to enjoy them two years in a row and they’re flowing right now! In 1970, Gunlock State Park was founded so that Utahns could enjoy its beauty. You’ll find the park just 15 miles northwest of St. George. There is BLM land and free camping right outside of the state park.
Cruise North to check out the cute little sleepy town of Gunlock and Gunlock Rodeo. There is even a little pond with a swing and crawfish traps to the left 3 miles up. Or you can head right on Lower Sands Cove Rd that takes you up to the backside of Snow Canyon and the most beautiful views.
The Enterprise Reservoir lies within a pinyon-juniper forest surrounded by large volcanic tuff rocks. The reservoir has been claimed ” a favorite fishing spot” and is popular for boating, kayaking and canoeing, and wildlife viewing. Horseback riding and a campground nearby, with a 6.6 mile lightly trafficked loop trail and is good for all skill levels.
I love Baker for having a picnic, swimming, kayaking or fishing and even making smores over a fire. I love the greenery and shady trees. There is a fun rope swing on the edge of water hanging from a tree.
The reservoir is managed by the Baker Dam Reservoir Association. Stocked with trout on a regular basis and is open year-round. Baker Dam is also a good base for hunters looking for deer, quail, and rabbit, and off road vehicle users wanting to explore higher elevations. Please be informed of all Federal, State, and local laws and regulations for hunting and OHVs. Much of the land surrounding the reservoir is private except for the southern end, which is public land.
6. Pine Valley
Pine Valley is another close favorite! A beautiful forest of ponderosa pine and oak covers the area and surrounds the stunning picturesque reservoir. This quiet little town is full of history, beauty and quiet.
The campground has picnic tables, fire rings with grills, and concrete site pads. You enjoy shoreline fishing for rainbow trout (Flotation devices – canoes, paddle boards, inner tubes, etc. -are not allowed on the lake). Hiking and horse trails are abundant in Pine Valley. The lake is surrounded by walking trails or you can venture into the wild, trails vary in length from 2 to 35 miles. Some trails allow mountain biking. Keep in mind there is no cellular service.
This is a great, short hiking trail forall ages! The first part of the trail is a little bit sandy, but doesn’t last too long. It changes to a solid trail that leads right down to the dinosaur tracks. As you bottom out on the trail you will see a slate rock surface in part of the stream bed to the left of the trail. In the hardened sedimentary rock you can find 17 well preserved dino tracks presumed to be from Grallator, Kayentapus, and Eubrontes dinosaurs, which paleontologists suggest were bipedal, meat-eating theropods during the Jurassic Period. Access to the trail head is over a dirt road that is passable by most vehicles.
The trail starts behind the pond and then parallels the creek. For the most part, the trail is well-defined, but there are a number of spurs leading to the creek that sometimes make it difficult to stay on the main trail. While the trail starts out fairly flat, it will quickly ascend more steeply. The closer you get to the mouth of the canyon, the more impressive and intimidating the canyon walls will become. The trail will stick against the left side of the canyon and then enter it.
The trail gets very narrow, sometimes not even a foot wide, with a significant drop-off right next to you. This section of the trail is very steep as you get higher. You’ll occasionally have to climb and even pull yourself up using roots or sheer muscle power. If you think the trail does not go any further, just look up very closely and you’ll find it again. With increasing altitude, you’ll get better and better views of the canyon itself and the upper plateau.
Kolob Canyons is truly a hidden gem in an otherwise crowded part of the Beehive State. Greenery, red mountains, wild life, we even saw a heard of buffalo.
This easy (although somewhat longer) hike leads up the canyon of the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek to two historic homestead cabins and Double Arch Alcove. An alcove is a “blind” arch formed in a rock face through which there are no gaps for daylight to pass.
Timber Top Mountain is just one of many majestic peaks here. With a permit, you can take multi-day backpacking trips into the Kolob Canyons section
10. Brian Head
Brian Head is a rustic mountain village with diverse recreational opportunities where people and nature co-exist. Brian Head is the “Highest Resort Town” in America, and boasts a ski resort with red rock, rock ‘n’ roll and ribs.
In the winter, visitors flock to Brian Head Resort — the only resort to showcase snow-dusted red rock hoodoos. But in the summer, Brian Head Resort switches to a haven for mountain bikers, festival-goers, musicians, foodies and families looking for outdoor fun. Including Disc Golf, Archery, Hiking, and much more.
While many of these activities are not open during Coronavirus, you can enjoy a peaceful atmosphere perfect for getting out of that monotonous daily routine!