Southern Utah Trip for Thanksgiving: Rockville and Beaver

Odometer (Legend):  540,208


Odometer (ILX):  148,512


Trip Distance:  1,037 Miles


It’s an annual tradition of mine to head north on major holidays since most of my family lives in Utah.  On Thanksgiving Thursday, I drove through one of my favorite pieces of road – Highway 89A between Flagstaff, Arizona and Kanab, Utah.  It’s a remote red-rock wonderland with spotty cell phone reception and lightly-traveled two-lane roads.

My destination was Rockville, Utah – a town of only 247 people (of which my aunt Jodi is one).  She hosted over a dozen people at her home on Main Street for a potluck feast, card games, and viewing of the classic holiday film “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.”


My friend Ryan drove down from Logan, Utah to celebrate the holiday with us in his recently-purchased Audi.  On Friday morning, he and I headed out to Interstate 15 northbound and Beaver, Utah where my younger brother Bentley has recently finished building a cabin.  Snow flurries kept us from taking full advantage of the posted 80 mph speed limit from Toquerville to Cedar City, as visibility was not good enough.  From Beaver, we did our share of Black Friday shopping by stopping at the Family Dollar on Main Street for a couple of crock pots – half off, at only $8 each!  Best of all, no line at the register.


It had been over a year since I took the canyon drive up Highway 153 toward Eagle Point Ski Resort, but I knew very well that if road conditions were less than optimal, it would be a smarter move to leave the ILX at the base of the mountain and hop into Ryan’s all-wheel-drive Audi A4.  Skies were clear so we headed on up in tandem for the 23-mile drive to my brother’s place.  The highway twists through wooded forest, then sharply ascends some switchbacks as it climbs to 9,100 feet in elevation.  The scenery was rewarding all the way up.  The final stretch was un-plowed, single-lane roadway so I did have to ditch my car in a parking lot but Ryan’s A4 made it.

I’m now a believer in “Quattro!”  We enjoyed a charming evening from the cabin with homemade turkey dinner courtesy of my dad and my step-mom. We also played a little in the snow outside with my nephew Beckam who was putting a few miles on a remote-controlled snowmobile.  Luckily, the storm system didn’t leave us with more than a light dusting of fresh powder and the following morning, skies were vivid blue.


My car wasn’t too thrilled about cranking over in 4-degree temperatures, but it started on the first push of the button anyway.  Ryan and I made our way carefully down the steep canyon, knowing that the possibility of icy roads was very real.


Ryan and I made just one more stop before splitting ways and heading to our respective homes.  The abandoned “Sleepy Lagoon Motel” on the south end of Beaver had caught our eye.  Some of the motel’s 20 rooms were wide open with furnishings still intact.  I later learned that Sleepy Lagoon has been around since the 1950’s but was badly damaged by a fire in 2005.  That would perhaps explain why I couldn’t find a lobby.  The place has sat for the last 10 years awaiting a buyer who will probably come in and bulldoze the whole thing.


Here are my pictures from this week’s trip!

The Arizona Department of Transportation decided to get clever with its freeway messaging this weekend.



Highway 89A approaching Lee’s Ferry


Lee’s Ferry, a remote spot on Highway 89A where this 1929 bridge crossed the Colorado River.  It’s since been bypassed by a newer bridge to the west.


This may just be the most scenic gas station I’ve ever visited.  The background almost looks like a painting, but it’s not.


A few miles down the road, this is Marble Canyon where huge boulders line the side of the road.


Beginning my ascent toward Jacob Lake at nearly 8,000 feet in elevation.


From here, the road gets twisty and quickly gains elevation toward the summit where Highway 67 branches off toward the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Fresh snowfall from the prior evening still dusted some of the side roads in that area.


Fredonia, Arizona, is home to this historic / abandoned service station.  I’d love to go inside and take a look around.


Photo with my mom on Aunt Jodi’s back patio


The backyard extends toward the bank of the Virgin River which comes through Zion National Park.


Enjoying dinner


Card games afterward


Eastbound Highway 153 nearing Eagle Point Ski Resort, outside Beaver, Utah


My brother’s mountain home


Nephew Beckam is a selfie pro!


Dad’s 2013 MDX with 32,000 miles was right at home in this terrain


Crispy Saturday morning departure


Attempting a window fix on Ryan’s A4.  My brother let the passenger window down to back the car out and it wouldn’t return shut.  Ryan ended up driving about 4.5 hours home without a window!  In freezing temps, no less.


The ‘lagoon’ at Sleepy Lagoon Motel in Beaver


Parked in front of the Sleepy Lagoon rooms – notice doors wide open on some rooms.


Some of the interior furnishings still remain, even mattresses and chairs in some cases!


24 Responses to “Southern Utah Trip for Thanksgiving: Rockville and Beaver”

  1. Sounds like you had a great Thanksgiving weekend! Both the mountain and desert scenery is amazing!

    • Thanks Brendan! I think I saw a pic or two from your week as well and I hope you had a great holiday. It will be sort of good to get back to the grind tomorrow. Come visit me sometime and I’ll show you all sorts of mountain and desert scenery!

  2. I’m actually jealous of that snow! I don’t know what it is, but I just LOVE driving in snow. Sadly, we have no snow here in Illinois at the moment.

    • Is that odd for this time of year to still be snow-less in IL? Hopefully you’ll get some in time for a white Christmas!

      • Yeah. It is pretty odd not to have any snow at all. We did have a mini snowstorm about 2 weeks ago, but all of it has melted.
        I’ve heard this winter will be very mild for Illinois due to a strong El Niño.

  3. Nice Thanksgiving blog post! It was great to see your family again, and the good food with the mixture of scenery made for a memorable trip. The little red wagon didn’t do too bad I guess considering how old those 3 season tires were. Now I know how easy it is to deactivate the ESC system too!

  4. I miss the Minnesota snow and this blog was one of your best ever!

  5. Tell Bentley I’m moving into the Mountain Cabin…

  6. Future Audi owner?!?! I predict an S4 with a manual! The snowy mountain looked like fun! Why is all the good fun so far away? Oh and don’t get me started on those ridiculous ADOT signs. 😀

  7. Looks like a nice way to spend thanksgiving!

  8. Fun times in four degree weather! Hope you brought your holiday Acura sweater along.

    • Ha – I do have a couple of Acura hoodies but I forgot them. My dad made fun of me when I went outside for a walk in single digit temperatures wearing just a long sleeved shirt and shorts. Silly Arizona boy I am!!

  9. great family and hoilday weekend!

  10. […] red wagon, and a trip filled with good food and friends. Mileage covered was about 830 miles. Here’s Tyson’s blog post about the same […]

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