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Sego Canyon Adventure

Most people speeding east-west on I-70 through Grand County, Utah probably don't notice the small town of Thompson as they pass. From the highway, Thompson does not look too interesting, but just north of town is Sego Canyon which is worth a second look.


Sego Canyon is a great side trip near Moab, Utah. The canyon has ancient Native American art, a ghost town, and a fun ride through some beautiful back country. To get there, take the main road north through Thompson then follow the signs.


The winding road through Sego Canyon goes from rough pavement, to rock strewn gravel with areas of sand. It is a fun ride between sandstone cliffs, tall pines, and high desert landscapes, but it is not difficult or technically challenging.


The sandstone walls near the mouth of the canyon display ancient art from three different Native American cultures, of three separate eras. This site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but sadly vandals have defaced many of the painted and carved images. 


The art above is credited to the Archaic people who lived in this area from 8,000 to 2,000 years ago, Experts claim these people were nomads who did not build permanent structures, but lived in caves or temporary structures. All that remains of their passing are these paintings.


These images are Barrier Canyon Style, which consists of larger than life manlike forms painted with no eyes or hollowed eyes and often no arms or legs. Over the centuries the Anasazi, Fremont, and Ute tribes also left their mark near here.


The ghost town of Sego, began as a small mining operation in the early 1890s when rancher Harry Ballard discovered coal and bought the land. By 1911 he sold the mine to a group of Salt Lake City investors who expanded the operation. The remnants of a railroad they built to haul coal is still visible in the canyon.  


The old company store is missing its roof and main floor, but the floor supports still protrude though the exterior stone walls. Decades later, the stone work on the building remains remarkably solid.


At one point Sego boasted a store, a boarding house and numerous homes for miners,  But, by the late 1940s, low profits and financial problems caused the mine to close and the town was eventually abandoned.



Since it is a ghost town, there has to be a ghost car. This battered, rusted, shell looked sadly at home resting beside a collapsed pile of dried out, splintered lumber that may have once been a home. 



Aside from the ghost town and Native American art, the natural beauty of Sego Canyon is worth taking time to admire. I spent several hours enjoying the sights and sounds of the canyon and did not see another person the entire time I was there.


I would liked to have stayed longer, but approaching darkness and some threatening storm clouds convinced me to head back to the highway.  Sego Canyon was a fun ride, with some interesting sites, as well. Next time you are in the area, I recommend you stop and see for yourself.