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Piute County Events On and Off the Trail

By Brian Higgins
July 18, 2023

When you think of Piute County, Utah, you probably think of tall mountains, pristine lakes and dense forests. And you probably think of the expansive Paiute Trail system, winding through it all as it travels over the river, through the woods and just about everywhere else you can think of.

The folks in Piute County love their namesake trail (even if it’s spelled a little differently), and there’s a strong community of riders in the region who’ll think of any excuse to get together and explore it. Throughout the summer and beyond, you’ll find trail events of all kinds in Piute County. But there’s more happening in this picturesque region beyond the reaches of its 900-mile trail system. So whether you’re passing through on a paved road or a dirt one, stop in Piute County and enjoy these unique, family friendly events.

Mama and Papa Bear Runs: Mother’s and Father’s Day Weekends

Held on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day weekends, respectively, the Mama and Papa Bear Runs are a chance for motorin’ Moms and dust-covered Dads to enjoy their special days by doing what they love — hitting the trail. Among lots of other fun, each event features an all day ride on the Paiute Trail with an optional poker run.

What’s a poker run you ask? A poker run is a ride that features at least five checkpoints with playing cards stationed at each. Riders pick up a card at every checkpoint, and the rider with the best hand at the end of the ride is the winner. At Piute County events, the buy-in is usually $5 per card or five cards for $20. So if you’ve been putting off buying that gift card for Ma or Pa, this is your chance to do some last minute shopping

Actually, though, if your gift to Mom or Dad is a day at one of these awesome trail events, you’ve pretty much got your bases covered. Forget breakfast in bed, breakfast at the trailhead is included before the ride. Fancy dinners out are nice, too, but nothing beats a post-ride dinner, complete with brownies and ice cream. As for a show? Well, you can’t do much better than the views of the Tushar Mountains and the Fishlake National Forest they’ve been treated to all day.

Butch Cassidy Days County Fair: First Week in August

Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch famously got its name from the legendary parties his group would throw after pulling a big score. We think Cassidy, a Piute County native (whose childhood home you can visit), would certainly approve of the rollickin’ county fair that bears his name, even without the pre-party robberies.

The Butch Cassidy Days are a weeklong affair with nightly events ranging from an American Idol-style sing off to a children’s rodeo and a 3-on-3 basketball tournament. If any of that (or all of that) sounds like a good time, just head down to the Junction Town Park during the last week of August and join in on the fun. 

There are practically too many events to count, but if you can only make it to a few, make one of them the Little Buckaroo kids’ rodeo. The stick horse races and dummy bull roping will be almost too cute to handle, and the chicken chases and mutton bustin’ (aka a wild sheep ride) should probably come with an America’s Funniest Home Videos voiceover. Sign the little ones up and get your cameras handy. 

Of course the pros are at it too, with rodeos on Friday and Saturday night. You’ll see some of the region’s best riders competing in classic Utah rodeo events like bareback and bull riding, barrel racing, tie down roping and more. And if you want to get in on some of the week’s fun but prefer your body un-bucked? The cornhole tournament, bingo night and singing contest are a lot easier on the bones. Even if that last one might be hard on the ears.

Paiute Trail Jamboree: Second Weekend in August

Hold onto your helmets, the Paiute Trail Jamboree is about as much fun as you can have on four wheels! Each August, you’ll find some of the region’s most fun loving riders gathering at Cottonwood Downs in Marysvale for a weekend of riding, good eats and belly flops. Yes, you read that right.

First and foremost, the Jamboree is all about exploring the namesake trail system, with scheduled or open rides every day. From Wednesday on, riders will be able to sign up each day for scheduled group rides of their choosing. In between delicious breakfasts and dinners, they’ll spend the day seeing new sights and making new friends, or seeing familiar sights with familiar friends. Friday is an open riding day, but you’ll probably want to stay for the events in the park.

The park events are what really separate the Paiute Trail Jamboree from similar Utah events. You’ll see blindfolded riders take on an obstacle course with only their passenger’s instructions to guide them. You’ll see UTVs trying to score a soccer goal with a 6-foot ball. You’ll see belly flop after belly flop, and scrutinize every one as if you were the judge. Of all the things to do in Utah on a summer day, this event might be one of the most unique.

The spirit of fun and community is stapled all over this event, and even if you don’t have a rig of your own, you can rent one for the weekend from a local outfitter. You don’t have to drive blindfolded or enter the “King of the Trail” skills test, but you can still join in the good times, make some friends and see some of the Paiute Trail’s incredible sights.

Halloween Howl: Last Weekend in October

Did you know that Fishlake National Forest is haunted? It’s true, at least during the Halloween Howl in the last week of October. Cap off a great season of riding with one last trip on the trail, complete with creative costumes and lots of candy. There’s no better way to take in the forest’s spectacular fall colors. And eat candy.

Not only does this ride take motorists through a haunted forest (like a haunted house, but … y’know, forest), but it also gives riders a chance to deck themselves (and their machines) out in cool costumes. Whether you and the fam are dressed as Nintendo characters with a Mario Kart UTV or you’re bringing the intensity with a “Mad Max: Fury Road” couples costume, there’s room for every style. Awards will be handed out for spookiest machines and best costumes.

Yada, yada, yada — back to the candy! After the ride there will be a trunk-or-treat event to give the little ones a chance to grab some sweets. And, of course, that means you’ll have a chance to grab those same sweets once the tummy aches set in. All in all, this event is a great way to say sayonara to another great riding season and enjoy one more trip to the trail before the snow sets in.

Whether you’re riding the Paiute Trail, checking out Butch Cassidy Days or enjoying any number of outdoor activities in the mountains, there’s a lot more to Piute County than meets the eye. It may just be hiding around the next bend in the trail … 

Check out these events and plan your trip today