We found the Richfield KOA to be one of the best places we have stayed. Their shaded sites are so large they can accommodate a tow vehicle and a large toy hauler or motorhome with plenty of room to spare for a few ATVs. Since our rig is not large and we don’t tug along ATVs we enjoyed the extra room to move about. The park also has easy access to the miles of trails that wind their way throughout Richfield and the surrounding area.
Besides the ATV trails there is the Fremont Indian State Park and Museum, and Candy Mountain within a reasonable driving distance.
Fremont Indian State Park and Museum
We started out by visiting the Fremont Indian State Park and Museum where we watched a movie about how the museum came about. It all started with the construction of I70 during the 1980s. The plan was to take down four of the five-finger range hills and use them as fill to build up the valley after diverting the river/creek.
When the crew began digging, they found an ancient Indian settlement consisting of several pit houses and storage facilities. Archeologists rushed to the area to document and preserve what they could. It turned out that this was the largest Fremont Indian settlement found.
The neighboring community did not want the artifacts to sit in a university somewhere and pushed for the state park. Their dream came true and the park preserves the history of these ancient peoples.
The museum depicts life as it was including a mockup of a pithouse with a vent that brought fresh air in and a hole at the top where smoke escaped.
Cooking and work areas are also displayed. One of the most interesting objects was a recreation of remains that were found a few miles away. The recreation shows how the woman might have looked like when she was alive. A push of a button starts audio so visitors can hear her story and learn how tall she was, the condition of her teeth, the age when she died, and how she was buried.
Clear Creek Road and I70 run through the middle of the narrow park with trails on both sides of the freeway to explore the terrain and view petroglyphs and pictographs. When we finished in the museum, we ventured outside to explore more. a short drive on Clear Creek Road took us to panels where petroglyphs and pictographs have survived erosion.
Across the freeway are caves and the Sevier River.
This cabin is similar to what the Joseph Lott family may have built on this site when they settled here in the 1880s.
The 100 Hands Cave caught my interest. When were they placed here? Why did they make the pictograph? Was it some kind of ritual? How long did the pigment stay on their hands?
It’s a good thing the park protects this art with a wrought iron gate. Given the evidence that modern day artists had a mind to destroy this artifact, I can’t imagine what it would look like if not for the protection.
The last stop on our adventure at the Fremont State Park was the Jedediah Strong Smith Memorial. Yes, the same hunter, trapper, and explorer of the American West who traveled through the Great Salt Lake, Colorado River, Mojave Desert, California, and Oregon. To think of all the changes made since the 1820s when Smith roamed the west, it boggles the mind. I wonder what it will all look like in another 200 years.
Big Rock Candy Mountain
What attracted us to Big Rock were the mountains that looked like cakes dripping with yellow, white, and caramel icing. Volcanic activity is what gave the mountains their colorful feature. Different types of minerals produced different colors.
Besides the mountain, hiking and ATV trails and access to the Sevier River are also available.
The Big Rock Candy Mountain Resort offers places to stay in an RV Park with about 30 sites including water, sewer, and electricity; eight suites in the lodge; and 12 converted train cars in the Caboose Village. It looks like Big Rock Grill and Smokehouse serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At least as I write this.
Piute State Park
No, I did not misspell the word Piute. Although the park was named after the Native Americans who lived in the area at one time, the state legislature decided to change the spelling. I’m not sure why they would want to do that.
The park was abandoned when we visited, most likely due to the low level of water in September. The reservoir is used for irrigation purposes, so I guess it was all used up. I’m not sure how fish could remain alive in the reservoir at this low level, though. The water was quite murky, as was the runoff.
The park sits on the Sevier Plateau and contains a portion of the Piute Reservoir where anglers can try their luck for a trophy-sized rainbow, cutthroat, or brown trout. A boat ramp and day-use shade shelters are also available.
The park is quite primitive, including the campground. Only pit toilets are available and there is no water, so be sure to bring what you need. There are also three ATV trail systems accessible from the park.
Next up we continue our trek west toward California.