Headed West

A fortnight ago I took my camera to work with me, so I could go somewhere and take photos afterward. I didn’t really have a plan. I figured I’d decide that when the time came. After 8 hours of technical writing genius, I filled up my gas tank and just headed out. Since I already work on the west side of the valley, I decided to go even further west. Near Tooele, there’s a scenic pull-out that you can access if you are headed west on I-80. I didn’t know about it until I came upon it, but since I can’t resist a scenic pull-out, I immediately pulled over. It boasts a beautiful view of the Great Salt Lake, which was all misty and gorgeous.

As I was enjoying the view, two cars with teenage boys showed up. They started shooting bb guns into the lake and kind of ruined the moment. (Plus, I’m a little scared of teenage boys with bb guns), so I decided it was time to keep going. I thought about going as far as the salt flats, which I have been dying to see (can you believe I have never been out there?), but I wasn’t sure if I’d make it there before the sun set. It was already getting dark.

So I pulled off the Dugway exit. I don’t know what I expected to find in Dugway, but why not? I drove south toward Dugway, and the road was so pretty.

By this time, I had already been driving for about an hour. I didn’t have any cell reception, and I was in the middle of nowhere. I hate to say it because I like to think of myself as an independent adventurer, but I actually started to get a little nervous. What if my car broke down? What if I got a flat tire? What if I was out taking photos and someone kidnapped me off the side of the road? (you know how thought leads to crazy thought), and I didn’t even know what I’d find in Dugway. Oh, and I was starting to get really hungry, so I decided to turn around and head back home.

On the way home, I caught a glimpse of the sunset over the lake, and I was totally kicking myself for timing everything all wrong and missing it. I decided to try and get to the scenic pull-out again (and hope the bb-shooting teenagers were gone). But remember how you have to be heading west to access it? And I was going east? Well, I took a really long detour to head back west so I could get to the pull-out. By the time I got there, it was almost too late. Almost.

It was really nice to go for a long drive. I listened to music and thought about how wonderful it is to live in the West again. I just love the vastness of it all. I drove for an hour and couldn’t get anywhere. But in the future, I might want to plan things a little better.



  1. Amanda · March 5, 2012

    These pictures are beautiful. I especially love the second and last one. I miss the desert.

  2. kylie · March 5, 2012

    Yeah, that sunset one is really amazing!!! So pretty! 🙂

  3. Gatofeus Maximus · March 5, 2012

    You should have had cell phone reception down the highway leading to Dugway, along the length of Skull Valley. There are towers at the north and south end of the valley. The towers are for AT&T. You must have had a different carrier.
    You certainly passed Horseshoe Springs. It’s about 12 miles south of I-80 and worth the stop. Here, in 1846, the ill-fated Donner Party took on water and rested before heading through the Cedar Mountains to the west, and over the salt flats. They did not find drinkable water again until they got near Wendover. The crossing nearly killed them.
    Some died later in the Sierra Mountains of California, when their wagons mired in deep snow. Some members resorted to cannibalism of their dead to stay alive.
    Visit Horseshoe Springs on a spring or summer afternoon, to relax and photograph the setting sun. There are huge carp in the springs, and usually numerous dragonflies to photograph too. Bring bug spray and binoculars.
    Drive carefully. It’s open range country, without fences to keep cattle off the roadway. There are Black Angus cattle on some ranches, which are almost impossible to see at night until you’re on top of them. If it’s raining on a dark night, be extra careful.
    The Dugway turnoff is Exit 77. The only gas is available at Exit 99 for the Tooele turnoff, or about exit 70 at Dell. Top off the tank at either. There are no gas stations in Skull Valley; the last one closed in 2007.
    You will NOT be allowed on U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground to get gas or beverages, not even with retired or active duty military ID. You must have a reason and a sponsor to get on Dugway.
    The roadway is patrolled by the Utah Highway Patrol and Tooele County Sheriff, but not often. If you break down, you could very likely spend the night. Stay in the car if you do; rattlesnakes like to lie on the warm pavement at night, in spring and summer. It’s not a good road to blindly walk down at night.
    The Skull Valley area is wonderfully remote, but it requires a little extra caution and common sense. Let someone know when you leave, and when you check in.
    Hope the above helps.

    • katie · March 5, 2012

      Hey thanks so much for all of that information! I’ll have to remember to visit Horseshoe Springs this summer.

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