Utah has been blessed with incredible natural wonders that are world renowned - Canyonlands, Nat'l Park, Arches' Nat'l Park, Zion's Nat'l Park, etc. The state has five national parks, three National Monuments and a plethora of state parks. And the Utah Travel Council has been relentless in promoting these natural wonders to the world, so much so, that many of Utah's rural communities are now overwhelmed with visitors from around the world.
Moab, Utah is a prime example of over exposure. It is home to Arches Nat'l Park, Canyonlands Nat'l Park, and the Colorado River. Almost year round, this once tiny, obscure, backwater town, best known for its uranium mines that petered out long ago, is over run with tourists, jeeps, bicycles and SUVs.
I established my river company in Moab in 1971, at a time when no-one had ever heard of the town. There were a half-dozen motels in town, three cafes and a couple of gas stations.
I first came to the Colorado River in 1958, with a group of Boy Scouts. From Salt Lake City, Utah, we arrived in Hanksville, Utah, by bus, the last outpost of civilization before heading out into the wilderness toward the Colorado River. By stake bed truck, we traveled an almost non-existent road to the ferry crossing at the river, a distance of 75 miles.
The site of the future ferry was first established in 1880 by a prospector named Cass Hite. The crossing was used by the Navajos who lived in the area, and for a 150 miles in either direction, it was the only location to cross the river.
For years, the only way to cross the river was to swim, walk (in low water) or ride your horse across. Ferry service was established in 1946 and continued for 20 years until rising waters from Lake Powell covered the ferry.
Cass Hite served time in a Utah prison for killing a man, in a shoot-out, in Green River, Utah. He returned to Hite in 1893 and moved farther down river to a canyon he named Ticaboo. He lived there until his death in 1914, and was burried by his log cabin by friend and fellow river runner - Bert Loper.
In 1958, and until covered by the rising waters of Lake Powell, the few travelers to the river could still visit Cass's grave site, and the remains of his cabin.