The good people of the West Coast pride ourselves on social progress. We’ve figured out a few things a half-tick faster than the rest of the country and have allowed ourselves to believe that we’re somehow more elevated than our neighbors to the east. As I see it, the problem is that we have put ourselves in a righteous position that lacks the exact kind of serious self-examination we wish the rest of the country would engage in. The reality is that out west, we are just as guilty of lazy thinking as anyone, anywhere else. Take for example our liberal use of the term “fly over country” to describe the majority of the United States.
While not scientifically measured, it would appear that any semi-arid patch of our nation that is not currently hosting a music or arts festival would qualify as fly over country. Sparsely populated and filled with wide open space, Southern Utah is exactly one of those places that my self-righteous brothers and sisters of the coast would dismiss. This part of our great land is so rugged and unforgiving that it was the last part of the lower 48 to be mapped. After returning from a recent trip there, I would like to offer a piece of advice to my neighbors who would characterize it so harshly. Keep flying over it.
Over spring break, we took the kids into Kanab, Utah. Kanab is a small desert town of 5000 that lies about 200 miles north of Las Vegas. Situated in the Grand Staircase National Monument and surrounded by BLM land, it is perfectly positioned to use as a home base for any visitor to the area. Kanab is central to three national parks; Zion, Bryce, and the northern rim of the Grand Canyon. In addition, its proximity puts it and only an hour north of Page, Arizona, home up the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, as well as Lake Powell. Aside from the parks and Instagram famous locations, the town is ringed by some incredibly wild country that deserves further exploration. Thanks to the good people with Dreamland Safari Tours, we were able to do just that.
We booked a tour with Dreamland Safari based off a recommendation. It ended up being a great choice because it opened up the land to us. We would not have seen half of what we did without our guide Orion and his very reliable Suburban. Satellite phone equipped, his four wheeler allowed us to see places we would have never had access to. Over the course of five stops, we were able to spend time playing in sand dunes, learn about the formation of sandstone, see ancient petroglyphs, spent lots of climbing, saw two of the steps in the Grand Staircase, and wandered through an empty slot canyon. It was a wide open wilderness completely devoid of online influencers trying to get that perfect photo.
Our kids were able to have a kind of fun around Kanab that they would have missed out on back home. Aside from being able to play with plenty of dirt over the course of the day, they also got to have some real world-opening experiences. Since the majority of the sights we went to were well off paved roads, they were able to travel up sand washes. As we drove from location to location, they were able to spot mule deer zipping across our path. During lunch in the Ponderosa Grove Campground, they entertained themselves with the unsophisticated delight of throwing rocks into a puddle. At the end of the day, they spent some time searching for fossils.
After taking the tour with Dreamland Safari, my knee jerk reaction would be to go out and convince my fellow coastal elites to get out of California and take a look around. However, the more prudent position would be to let them keep their limited outlook, The countryside is so pristine that bringing narrow minded people in would be a waste of time.