The Road to Dragon

She was a loyal car, that Dodge Intrepid. In the 24 months we were together we saw fourteen states, worked in deserts and in the mountains of northern New York. We spent days on the interstate, chasing the sunset across the great plains, getting pulled over outside Winslow one morning coming back east and talking our way out of a ticket when we found out the officer was from back east too. We drove the unpaved back roads of Colorado, Utah, the Adirondacks and the Finger Lakes. We dodged mule deer and white tails. Prairie dogs and raccoons. One night I saw a mountain lion out her windshield slowly walking across US 40 along the Utah-Colorado border.

Perhaps the craziest trip we took together was from Vernal Utah to Dragon. Dragon is a ghost town, reached via a series of one and a half lane dirt roads in this high desert, scrub bushes dot the landscape and pronghorns sometimes appear in the corner of your vision. The road was paved as far as Bonanza, where the current Gilsonite mine is. From there it’s dirt for the next 25 miles, with no water to be had. If you end up making this trip, or any trip even on an interstate in the West, you should always have water in the car. I personally kept a minimum of five gallons in my trunk at all times out west. As ghost towns go, Dragon isn’t the most amazing. All the buildings are gone, but thanks to the BLM there are interpretive signs placed so you can tell what was here 70+ years ago. A few dug outs still pierce the hillsides, and a sidewalk leads to the foundations of the school house, but gone are the sheep pens, the hotel, the town library and the railroad terminal support buildings. While it’s an interesting site to visit, the most spectacular part of the drive is the view of the White River just south of Bonanza. The road crosses the river on a high bridge above the canyon and the view to the east towards the Colorado border gives you some idea of what it must have been like for the people who came into this part of the Uintah Basin.

If you decide that you want to visit Dragon, be sure that you bring water and have a full tank of gas. Phone contact will be difficult, so be sure to let someone know where you’re headed. Check the weather forecast before you leave, because this is NOT a road you want to be on if it rains. Honestly, I would not recommend a car for this drive, a pickup or SUV would be a safer choice, remember; safety first.

Copyright Joshua House 2014

The White River in Eastern Utah clearly demonstrates the importance of water to life.

This entry was posted in American Historic Sites, American History, Photography - Rivers and Reflections, Photography - The American West, Photography- Panoramas, The Wandering Yankee and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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