Quick Drive: Warner Valley, Southern Utah

Odometer (Legend):  531,910


Odometer (ILX):  106,356


Trip Distance:  12 Miles



As sunset drew near one evening during our visit to St. George, Utah for the Thanksgiving holiday, my friend Ryan asked me if I knew of “any good drives” in the area.  “Pssssh” I thought.  “Of course!”  It wouldn’t be a Tyson-Ryan road trip if there wasn’t at least a little bit of off-roading, like that one time we drove Hell’s Backbone. That’s why, at first thought, the remote area of Warner Valley came to mind.


It had been a long time since I visited Warner Valley.  Maybe 18 years?  I know for a fact that we went camping there when I was in Boy Scouts, and I was probably 14 at the time.  The landscape I’m sure hasn’t changed much, but the steadily sprawling urban development has encroached on what was once barren wilderness back then.  This road trip didn’t just rewind the clock 18 years, though.  It rewound the clock to 190 million years ago, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.  That’s because Warner Valley is home to some of the best-preserved dinosaur tracks in the southwest.  There are, in fact, about 400 examples of dinosaur tracks that have been found in the area since it was originally mapped in 1989.


Ryan and I took to the dirt road with enthusiasm and started kicking up some dust.  The red one-laner snaked its way through the sagebrush and led us past some areas where people were set up with firearms and doing target practice.  We gladly continued onward from there.  I did get a little nervous because the road conditions got a little sketchy – the gravel gave way to sand which was quite deep in places.  Remembering that one time when I got the ILX hopelessly stuck in the sand, I knew that I needed to keep my momentum to avoid that.  My car’s traction-control assistance did kick in a number of times as the front tires lost grip in the sand.


Luckily, Ryan kept a pretty good pace from ahead of me and I stayed on his tail despite being enveloped by a cloud of dust.  The desert’s colors really took on vivid hues as the sun dipped down in the western sky.  Soon, it became pretty clear we’d run out of daylight before getting down the road much further, so we opted to loop back once we arrived at the site of the Fort Pearce Historic Site.  It’s a small stone structure that was built in 1866 during Utah’s “Black Hawk War.”  Native Americans from the Ute tribe were trying to drive out the Mormon settlers.  In a series of battles, 100 Indian lives were lost and 70 Mormons.  The 42 x 22 foot structure was one of several guard posts that were built during that time.  The war ended by about 1873 and the remains of Fort Pearce stand as a reminder.


(photo credit Washington County Historical Society)

I’ve heard of “instant karma” but never seen it in action until Ryan and I started heading back to toward civilization.  Despite the fact that we were clipping along at 30 miles per hour, a Ford pickup came up in my rearview and got uncomfortably close.  It was clear he wanted to blast past me, but the road was far too narrow at that time to allow it.  At the next possible area, I did scoot to the right and he flew by, spraying a cloud of dust in my direction.  It was just seconds later, as the driver took his truck halfway up the berm on the left side of the road in an attempt to pass Ryan, that he lost control of his truck and ended up spinning it sideways in the deep sand and having to stop.  I passed him with a chuckle and Ryan and I continued on our merry way.

Thanks for joining on the trip!

Dinosaur track photos:


(photo credit stillexploring.com)


(photo credit stillexploring.com)

Heading out on the dirt road, following Ryan’s dust cloud


Quick photo op in the middle of nowhere


Another angle


Love the red sandstone scenery


ILX + S2000


Great sunset skies out in the desert


And headed back to civilization


Return drive to Phoenix on Saturday morning


The Virgin River Gorge section of Interstate 15


The Legend getting out for its weekly “walk” around the block.


14 Responses to “Quick Drive: Warner Valley, Southern Utah”

  1. Thanks for the adventure and the pictures! Hard to go wrong with red rock sunsets.Too bad I was trying not to get creamed by the rear end of that truck swinging towards me or maybe I could have taken a picture of that.

    • Haha, yeah I would’ve loved a picture (or better yet, a video) of that guy in the truck. Glad we both survived unscathed. It’s all part of the adventure. Looking forward to the next one, wherever that may take us…

  2. Dinosaur tracks?! How cool is that!

  3. Dinosaur tracks and a jughead truck spin out! Now thats a good day right there!!!

    • Haha, seriously. Next time I head out that way it’ll be in a 4×4 rig and I’m going all the way to the end of the road. If Ryan and I had a little more daylight we would have continued on. Guess it’s okay to leave a little bit of adventure for next time 🙂

  4. Honda600King Says:

    15,605 songs on your iPod?! 🙂

    • Never enough! That’s just on my 80 gig iPod classic. I also have a second iPod with about 1,200 songs… Music is a great source of entertainment when you’re driving 45-50,000 miles per year.

  5. Do you still have the XM/Sirius subscription to your radio activated? I have it in my TSX and have had it since I got the car in 2005. It is one of the things I enjoy the most in the car.

    • Carlos, unfortunately my “free” XM subscription (which was being covered by Acura for the first part of my ILX ownership) did expire several months ago and I haven’t renewed it. I miss it, especially for a few favorite channels like BPM. How much do you pay for your subscription?

  6. The last time I got it for the year, I payed $77. But in order to get that deal, you have to be willing to negotiate. 🙂 I just love XM radio on long distance trips. You never know what songs are going to play next. This is different than the songs you have on your Ipod where you downloaded those songs at some point and know what to expect. XM radio with its great selection and unpredictability greatly increases the enjoyment of my vehicle. Long distance trips are awesome with XM radio.

  7. The sites and drives out there never end! 🙂 watching that truck wipe out must have been so funny

    • Haha, I loved it. I mean, I was of course glad the guy was okay, and I could tell he’d be able to get his truck out of there without any help (otherwise I probably would have stopped), but I did enjoy showing him that a couple of Hondas had just as much of a right to be on that road as his big rig 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: