By Jennifer Yates
Nuggets and flakes of gold brought enterprising miners with shovels and picks in hand to Marysvale, creating a classic American mining boomtown. Unlike the remnants of any bust and boomtown that are barely a slice of Utah's history forgotten, Marysvale still maintains a happy valley attitude. With the laid-back, simplicity personality created by any sleeper town, I found myself relaxing and enjoying this town's simple charm.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by Randy and Katie Moore, who introduced me to one of the oldest-working hotels in Utah, The Moore's Old Pine Inn,. Now a delightful bed and breakfast, it dates back to more than a century. As Randy explained, this inn has seen it all from Butch Cassidy to the Black Hawk War; the Moore's even have registers dating back to the 1800's. A picture museum and themed/historical suites helped explain much of Marysvale's history.
Like any crook and cranny town, Marysvale offers a sweet escapade of activities unseen to the naked eye. The Tushar Mountain Range, as well as the Pahvant Mountains and the Sevier Plateau, are located in the midst of this forgotten valley. With the looming mountains surrounding the area, the Paiute ATV Trail and Sevier River take prominent positions in the grandeur of this mountain range.
The next morning, Randy took our group ATVing along the twisting trails throughout Paiute ATV Trail system, which covers over 280 miles unforeseen wilderness. Exhilarating and exciting, the ATV adventure is an experience unlike most. With grit, dirt and the wind at your back, the trail system winds through breathtaking views and amazing vistas.
At one point along the route, we stopped to visit Miner's Park, which is located up Bullion Canyon. Old log cabins and remnants of early miners are set on display in this outdoor museum. Once the queen of gold mining camps, the Kimberly and Dalton mines highlight one of the main attractions in this Old West experience. Small plaques dotted the museum that explained early mining history, machinery, early mining tools and how they were used. Randy told us stories of his ancestors, who once lived and mined in the area.
We stopped frequently to hike short side trails to cascading waterfalls and to enjoy the panoramic scenery. By the end of our journey, I was caked with dust, and with the removal of my goggles, I looked like a raccoon.
After a morning of dust and dirt, I turned in my ATV for my next adventure. With paddle and life jacket in hand, I was ready to hit the rapids of the nearby meandering Sevier River. The guides offered a quick orientation and description of the watercraft and safety precautions, and we were on our way.
Having never been on a whitewater trip before, my anticipation and excitement began to build as we approached our first rapid. With a splash of almost perfectly aimed cool, crisp water, we were soaked with one blow. At least, I was. The guide commented later that I was in the most soakable and tumbling area of the raft...right-front. This made me laugh and silently pray that I wouldn't end up somewhere in the water at any critical moment. Passing a few water tubers, we meandered up the river to the next set of rapids.
After the last rapid, we navigated through Widowmaker and Big Daddy, our first class III rapid. Paddles poised and ready, I dashed through the rapids with sheer anticipation. Cool water drenched us in small waves. Slowly, the whitewater became more and more frequent with numerous boulder gardens and walls through the scenic canyon bottom. After one more section and another class III rapid, we landed our raft, and headed back to Big Rock Candy Mountain.
Throughout this twisting and windy river, our guide offered descriptions of rock faces, local his story, stories and explanations of even some of the various insects found along the river. Covering at least 6.5 miles, the trip lasted about 2 fast and invigorating hours.
Following a quick dinner at one of the restaurants in town, we set out for a final venture...an evening horseback ride with the guides from Three Springs Ranch. As we arrived, our guide, Jonathon Edwards, was double-checking all straps and harnesses among his horses.
After I mounted my horse, we wandered up and down the Tushar Canyon backcountry and through Bullion Canyon. Jonathon explained various mountains and history, while chatting with members of our group throughout the ride in the foothills.
Atop sure-footed and gentle horses, I looked out over the beauty and majesty of some of Utah's most forgotten mountain ranges. We roamed through various mountain trails in a trail ride string of about 12 horses. After a gentle and leisure ride, we returned to the ranch.
Following our long day of adventure, we were grateful to return to a soft bed (and lots of sleep) at the inn. The next morning as I prepared to get ready to leave, Randy asked if we were ready for some more fun. Unfortunately all of our energy was spent, and it was time to get back home. But, like the early miners that once inhabited the area, I felt as though I had struck gold with the simple charm of this old historic mining town. . . and I can't wait to go back.
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