Visit the Land

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Visiting the beautiful land that could be destroyed for tar sands mining anchors you to a flash point in the battle for the planet’s survival. This page contains tips and special considerations regarding your visit to the East Tavaputs Plateau and PR Springs. The area is very remote. Road conditions can change quickly with rain or snow and it’s easy to get lost. But there are unbelievable rewards for the explorers who make it in. 

The strip mine processing facility and part of the mine site are within the boundaries of the Utes’ Uintah and Ouray Reservation, on lands stolen from the Tribe under the Dawes Act of 1887. The area is currently managed by the BLM (federal government) and SITLA (state government). The BLM manages a well-water pump and campground in the area known as PR Springs that was originally constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Directions

From the Northern route it should be possible to drive on Seep Ridge road all the way to the US Oil Sands tar processing factory site, which is surrounded by a big fence. As you continue south you will see the test pit and then the destroyed area our beloved Children’s Legacy Camp the first area being strip mined by US Oil sands. You can continue on to PR Springs a public BLM campground with potable water and a few camp sites. There are numerous spots to camp all around this area.

The Northern Route:

Fill your tank up on highway 40 at Ute petroleum as there are no services.

  1. From Salt Lake City, head east on I-80 and exit 146 to Highway 40. Drive through Heber and Duchesne to Roosevelt, about 143 miles. If you get to Vernal, you went too far.
  2. At 200 North in Roosevelt, you have to take a right to continue on Highway 40, go another 16 miles.
  3. Turn right/south on Highway 88 (note, if you are coming from Colorado via Dinosaur National Monument, you would be turning left/south from Highway 40 to Highway 88).
  4. Drive about 78 miles south on Seep Ridge Road.
  5. Keep going past test pit and first mine area on your right
  6. cross the county line into Grand county and the paved road ends.
  7. Keep going and you come to a horse corral on your left and the PR Springs turnoff, go down this road and stay to the left this will take you down into the camp ground cross a cattle guard here is the fresh spring water spigot
  8. Also notice a little further on, an old chimney from the Civilian Conservation Corp days.

Look at a Google Map of the northern route.

The Southern Route

  1. From Moab or Grand Junction, take exit 227 off of Interstate 70 near the Utah/Colorado border on the Utah side and head West/North. (If you’re coming from Colorado that will be a right turn off the exit; if you are coming from Utah, it will be a left turn off the exit)
  2. Turn Right on Old Highway 6 and go 2 miles
  3. Turn left and go about 6 miles until you come to a T in the road.
  4. Turn left at the T and continue going northwest (the pavement ends); 6 miles past the T you should …
  5. … Follow the road to the left around a fenced property.
  6. Stay to the right on the main road as you go around the ranch and enter the Three Canyons area.
  7. At the sign for East Canyon, stay to the left/forward for Hay Canyon.
  8. Very shortly after that, you’ll hit a fork in the road with a sign for Middle Canyon, and again head left/forward for Hay Canyon. Stay on the main road about about 15 miles. You will be taking a road up the side of the canyon toward the ridge.
  9. Go right on Book Cliffs Ridgeline Road.
  10. Turn left onto Seep Ridge Road.
  11. Keep going and you come to a horse corral on your right and the PR Springs turnoff, go down this road and stay to the left this will take you down into the camp ground cross a cattle guard keep going pass the spigot and an old chimney from the CCC days
  12. Continue cross another cattle guard on down to a parking area. and you will see our our tents and tarps

Look at a Google Map of the Southern Route

Geography

Our usual camp areas and the tar sands test pit are on the East Tavaputs Plateau in an area known as PR Springs. The southern and western faces of the East and West Tavaputs plateaus form what are known as the Book Cliffs.

The closest towns to PR Springs are:

  • Loma (Grand Junction): 58 miles.
  • Roosevelt: 94 miles
  • Green River: 112 miles
  • Thompson Springs: 87 miles (gas station only)

The terrain is a combination of sage-swept, high-plateau flat lands interrupted by tree-packed canyons bursting with Douglas firs, spruce, quaking aspens and so much more.

Bathrooms, Water, Electricity, Cell Phones

There are no toilets.  We bury our waste. There is no electricity.

There is a well-water spigot of potable water at PR Springs campground.

Cell service is spotty. AT&T, Verizon and Tracphone get fairly reliable service on ridgelines only–that may mean needing to go for a hike uphill (or drive) to make phone calls.  Other services also have some service, but is very spotty and should not be relied upon.

Temperatures

Summer low temps at PR Springs range from mostly 40s and 50s during throughout summer months, with many nights in the 30s mostly only in May and September. Most October nights will be in the 30s with some nights in the 20s.

Summer high temps are in the 70s and 80s in May, September and October. June and July highs are usually in the 80s and 90s with some 100s. The chart below is the temperature observations for PR Springs for 2012 May-October.

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Roads and Vehicles

Most all vehicles can make it to PR Springs safely but good tires are important and spare tires a necessity. You do not need a four-wheel drive or high-clearance vehicle, however.

Many roads are pretty rough and unpaved. Be prepared for potholes and use moderate speed. Many roads off the beaten path are rougher than the main roads.

Dirt roads become very muddy quickly after rain or snow and may become impassable for many vehicles. 

The Northern Route to PR Springs is mostly paved while the Southern Route is mostly dirt road; the Southern Route also gains elevation faster than the Northern Route making it, overall, the more challenging route for your vehicle.

 Altitude

PR Springs is at more than 8,000 feet of elevation–very high. You may experience altitude sickness. Symptoms of altitude sickness are similar to flu or hangover, including nausea and fatigue. Most people have no problems, but some people experience mild or very mild symptoms related to altitude, while a few have more pronounced difficulties.

Sun radiation is also more powerful at higher altitudes. A person also becomes dehydrated more quickly at high elevation, which can make symptoms worse. Wear sunscreen and drink lots of water even on cool days.

Respect for Wildlife (& pets)

Animals present include wild turkeys, elk, deer, coyotes, black bears, mountain blue birds, grouse, a number of hawks and so much more. There are also livestock cows.

This is BEAR COUNTRY–do not be afraid but take basic precautions. The American Bear Association says bears are “Nervous, shy, easily frightened – can cause serious injury if startled, cornered, or provoked. … Usually prefers to avoid humans.” Bears love human food and have superior senses of smell. Bear safety tips includes hanging or keeping all food items in cars when not in use and avoiding fragrant cosmetics.(update June 2014) We have encountered non-aggressive bears at PR Springs and have taken precautions to dampen and reduce our impact on bear behavior as much as possible. While camping in bear country–or camping at all–is an inherently dangerous activity, so is riding in a motor vehicle, bicycling and other mundane activities. Your life is in more danger in your car ride on the way to bear country than in your tent once you’ve arrived, so be responsible and keep things in perspective.

If you encounter a bear, wave an object over your head or put your hands over your head to look bigger, yell aggressively at the bear and back away slowly–do not run and do not approach or corner the bear.

Do not feed wildlife or livestock.

Dogs are welcome on the East Tavaputs Plateau. However, there is abundant deer, elk, cows and more that may prompt your dog to take chase. Use caution if you choose to bring your dog/pet out into the wild. The area is very rugged.

Leave No Trace

We are all responsible to pack out the waste generated by whatever we have packed in.

We try to leave the land in the condition we found it or better. That means leaving campsites and hiking trails free of any sign that you were there. It’s best to camp and hike on grounds and on trails that have already been impacted by  use rather than trample new spaces. Sadly, huge portions of PR Springs have been impacted by the fossil fuel industry–for roads, drill pads and more–and often our relatively light touch is imperceptible in the fray.

However, there are also vast stretches of wilderness lands that show little or no signs of human influence, development or exploitation. Regardless of the context, it’s important to strive to leave zero impact on our wild surroundings.

Read the The Leave No Trace Seven Principles.

 

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11 thoughts on “Visit the Land

  1. Dear people of the resistance, Every time I read about US Oil Sands in the local paper I want to scream, cry, shout, resist, protest this horrible idea! If it was any where in the world I would feel the same but the fact that it is in my backyard really drives it home….our “elected officials” are approving this nonsense. Thank you from the bottom of my heart (and my infant daughter thanks you in advance as well) for suppling the resistance and not backing down from the dark doings of big oil. If I had any extra money it would go to you all to help fight the good fight but I can only offer words of encouragement! The earth deserves better than scraping and drilling-thank you for knowing that.
    Sincerely, Nancy Morlock Moab

  2. We are considering you for our Action of the Month for August to raise money for you. Please respond if you are interested. We are LUV News and we take no contributions for ourselves, but help other organizations that we feel are worthy. You were recommended to us by Dr. Margaret Flowers. Please respond and let us know, we are selecting within a few days

  3. I support you! Thank you for bringing this to my attention. May God reverse the decisions/permits to excavate here.

  4. I have a car of people who want to join the campout. If you talk to will please have him call me at 801-864-0420.

  5. I’d like to make a correction to the statement above that “the lands we traverse are mostly owned by the BLM (federal government) and SITLA (state government).”

    I don’t know about SITLA, but the Bureau of Land Management is a management agency. They do not own that land. It’s important for us to remember that. It’s OUR land, MANAGED FOR US by the BLM. If we slip into thinking that the BLM owns the land we think differently about it. When we realize the truth, that WE own the land not them, we regain the power of ownership. Be clear in our thoughts, words, and actions.

  6. My question is regarding food too. Not sure what to do, so I’ll do both. I’ll bring some quantities of food for myself (breakfast/lunch/snacks) and larger quantities to give away/trade/share. I live in Grand Junction so I’ll bring a case of peaches!! They’re just coming into season. Maybe I’ll have enough time to make a peach cobbler to bring. Also I’m thinking of things to share like spaghetti & sauce, tortillas, rice & beans. It’s good to share food. :o) Does that sound like a plan that others might like to do too? We can just act on our own and DO IT! See you there. If you bring quantities to share, also bring the gear needed to cook it, just in case. Are there any plans for a central kitchen? With4 days there we’re sure going to need an all night cafe and “common grounds” coffee shop. ~ Lora

  7. I would,like to come and camp I can drive and sleep in truck should I bring food for me to share and fresh water bring my own ??

    my phone is 259 8452 Moab

  8. Hello fellow Earthlings,
    I would like to attend this camp and bring with me my daughter Joanna and granddaughter Sophia, age 11.
    I am excited about all the events, especially birding. I will bring binoculars and bird guide, also maybe telescope. All are welcome to use these.

    I’m wondering about the food arrangements. Are the organizers planning this, or do we bring our own and cook our own? Or do we bring food to cook together and share?

    Thank you so much for all you do. Thanks especially for planning this event where I can share the beauty of the outdoors with my daughter and granddaughter and face the moral challenge of protecting the Earth in community.

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