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A small town that has some attractions that make it worth the stop and scenery in the local area is stunning

Our Southern Utah adventure continued, seeing us leave tha amazing Capitol Reef and journeying northwest towards the tourist trap of Moab. Winter is an interesting time to visit the area, whereas the summers are stinking hot, the winters are downright chilly to freezing your butts of cold. The day we set off it was definitely a freezing butts of kind of day, but the the skies were crystal clear and a deep blue. There was a heavy frost which has coated the trees in a thick crysalline hoar frost. This was a great opportunity to take some photographs en route.

Frosty bushes 0n SR-24 between Capitol Reef National Park and Hanksville, Utah
An old truck on a frosty day on SR24
A deep hoar frost coats a tree
A frozen butte in the distance from SR24

1. FACTORY BUTTE

As you travel along SR24 it is difficult not to see Factory Butte (on your left-hand side coming from Capitol Reef!) It is about halfway between Capitol Reef and Hanksville. This flat-top butte rises to an impressive 6,302-foot (1,921 m) and is set in flat badlands which makes it all the more imposing. It got its name from Mormon settlers who were reminded of a mill factory in Provo.

2. CARL’S CRITTER GARDEN

As you drive through Hanksville on SR24 you will not be able to miss Carls Critter Garden. It is an eclectic collection of art sculptures created from parts of old cars and other re-cycled mechanical equipment. The sculptures depict everything from dinosaurs to more contemporary animals and people.

I am not sure who or they Carl is but the amassed collection is whimsical. He seems to be someone who is a Universalist and wishes to spread a message of peace and harmony!

Like everything else on this day, the sculptures in Carls’ critter garden were coated with a healthy layer of hoar frost.

Carl's Critters Garden in Hanksville
Carl's Crtiter Garden in Hanksville features dinosaurs and other phantasmical creatures
Rusty pumps and other materials at Carl's Critter Garden
A magical school bus
Something mystical about prayer flags covered in frost

3. HOLLOW MOUNTAIN

Located at the junction of highways 24 and 95 you will find the Hollow Mountain convenience store. While the fuel island looks normal, beyond that this is not your usual gas station.

The store is not a natural cave or rock cavity, Hollow Mountain was built in 1984. The hill in which it is located once extended to the highway before Harry Thompson (owner) blasted the hillside back and hollowed out the rock. With the exception of where rock are exposed near the restrooms, the store itself looks like most convenience stores inside. Velociraptors were placed near the entrance to complete the puzzle. You can find hollowed-out rocks as living quarters in other parts of Utah but this is the only convenience store using Utah’s sandstone and rock .

4. GOBLIN VALLEY STATE PARK

Heading north out of Hanksville on SR24 you will come across some amazing scenery. After about 30 miles you will see signs for Goblin Valley State Park. Like its more famous cousin Bryce Canyon, Goblin Valley State Park has thousands of hoodoos, referred to locally as goblins, which are formations of mushroom-shaped rock pinnacles, some as tall as several yards (metres).

There are plenty of trails to explore with the park and for the more adventurous you can go canyoneering in the many canyons throughout the area.

Other interesting things to do around Hanksville

We happened upon Hanksville by chance so there we hadn’t researched the place much. Researching a bit more about Hanksville for this blog post I found some other places I hope to check out if I pass this way again.

1. MARS DESERT RESEARCH STATION

If you travel out into the desert around Hanksville you may stumble across the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), which is owned and operated by the Mars Society. This campus is a space analogue facility that supports Earth-based research in pursuit of the technology, operations, and science required for human space exploration. Volunteers come here for several months each year to simulate what living on another planet might be like.

It is possible to visit MDRS and they do offer tours but at the time of writing, C0vid-19 has stopped these running. Check out the website to find out the current status of tours.

http://mdrs.marssociety.org/

2. WOLVERTON MILL

The Wolverton Mill was constructed in 1921 by mining engineer Edwin T. Wolverton to crush ore and cut lumber for his and neighbouring mines in the nearby Henry Mountains. Wolverton came to the area in search of a legendary Spanish gold mine. After 12 years of filing mining claims around Straight Creek on Mt. Pennell, Wolverton was able to establish his own claims. After years of little success Wolverton abandoned his dream of finding riches and living a lavish lifestyle. The mill stood on Mt. Pennell several more years but was subject to vandalism and a source of problems. To solve the problem and maintain this historic building the Bureau of Land Management in 1974 moved the mill to its current location where it is on display at the BLM office in Hanksville. A restoration of the mill was completed in 1988. Located at 406 South 100 West in Hanksville UT.

About Hanksville

Hanksville is a small town of about 220 people is found at a crossroad that offers access to many of Utah’s top tourist attractions. Historically, this wild west town claimed a spot on the map because of the unlawful ramblings of Butch Cassidy and his gang. Their Robber’s Roost hideout was just south of town.

Hanksville is about 100 miles west of Moab and within the vicinity of many of Utah’s most visited national parks, monuments, and attractions.

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