Scenic USA - Utah

Canyonlands Cowboy

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Canyonlands Cowboy - White Canyon, Utah

Photos by Dr. Rob Jones
Dark Canyon Trip Report

   Scenery on both sides of Utah's Route 95 from Hanksville to Blanding, the Bicentennial Highway, is not only a sample of the dramatic landscape surrounding White Canyon, but also reveals a stark and seemingly inhospitable land. Characterized by weathered rocks and hard bare earth called desert pavement, the land is sparsely scattered with Utah juniper, pinyon pine, coarse desert shrubs, and a half dozen native grasses. This view of the adjacent Dark Canyon, a regular oasis, gives hope that the area is not all barren and desolate.
   This section of the southeastern Utah desert hasn't changed significantly over the last one hundred years, and without a doubt it was quite a spectacular sight to the 19 year old Al Scorup. During the spring of 1891, the young cowboy left a weeping mother, crossed 300 miles of the Colorado Plateau with a spare horse, sacks of flour and pinto Scorup Cabin - Dark Canyon Wilderness, Utah beans, a slab of bacon and a "patchwork of old quilts." Al took his first solo job looking after a herd of longhorns in White Canyon. The nearest town was a three days ride. Scorup's day was filled with an "awful silence" ... and during the night the only company was the howl of the coyote.
   In the later years Al was joined by his brother Jim, and managed to eke out a living in this harsh land. They both married, dealt with all sorts of competition, endured extreme weather and survived long enough to name quite a few points of interest in these striking canyonlands. Folllowing his brothers death, Al Scorup became a partner of the largest herd in Utah, managed to pay off the S & S Cattle Company debts in record time, and achived the title of "cattle king."

    Area Map
    Additional Reading: Al Scorup - Cattleman of the Canyons


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