In 1776, while states on America’s east coast were declaring independence from England, two Spanish priests, Dominguez and Escalante, were camping with Paiute Indians at the base of the Kaibab Plateau in northern Arizona. The trail the Indians showed them, the Jacob Hamblin/Mormon Honeymoon Trail, still exists, as do the Beale Wagon Road and the Moqui Stage Station.
Today’s adventurers can travel these trails and visit these sites on All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), bicycles, horseback, snowmobiles, or as we do, in a modified Jeep towing an off-road trailer. These trails welcome those yearning to follow in their ancestors’ wagon ruts, and except for the fires, floods, and landslides that have occurred over the past centuries, they remain as they were when pioneers, cattle ranchers, and Mormon Honeymooners first ventured into Arizona: teeming with wildlife, exotic plants, and breathtaking rock formations that expose the history of the earth. Driving the Great Western Trail in Arizona will help you drive the trail from Phoenix to the Utah border on some of the same roads your ancestors traveled 200 years ago.
It is long and lonely, and days without Face Book and Twitter can lead to erratic and sometimes violent behavior, yet if you are willing to leave behind the comforts of civilization, driving through Arizona’s spectacular backcountry is an experience you will long remember.