Utah Trip Part 2 - Little Sahara Recreation Area and Paul Bunyan's Woodpile

I spent Saturday morning exploring Utah's west desert, starting at the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Little Sahara Recreation Area and then hiking Paul Bunyan's Woodpile.

My goal at Little Sahara was to hike the Rockwell Wilderness Study Area, a 6,000 acre area set aside for non motorized use.   I wanted a wilderness experience and due to the heavy snowfall in Utah this year I felt Rockwell WSA was the closest option for a snow-free wilderness experience.

Little Sahara is a well known off highway vehicle area, attracting 300,000 visitors a year and up to 20,000 on busy weekends.  I hoped Rockwell WSA would have far fewer visitors; the only challenge was accessing it.   I emailed BLM and obtained pretty good directions to a kiosk 1.5 miles from the WSA.  From there things became confusing.   The BLM ranger advised that the road is not maintained so becomes really rough.  After a short distance driving I realized that it's hard to distinguish between an unmaintained road and an ATV trail, so despite having rented a Jeep, I soon decided to turn around, park at the kiosk and hike in rather than risk getting stuck and missing the wedding later in the day.

I was in the more remote northwest corner of Little Sahara, which appears to get significantly less use than the main section of the park.  I enjoyed the first half of my four mile hike, not seeing anyone and enjoying the barren landscape.  A large group of OHV riders appeared, breaking the silence.   At that point, having already hiked two miles in sand, I decided to call it and hike back to the car.  

Overall I enjoyed the hike and slogging four miles through sand was a good workout, but Little Sahara charges an $18 entrance fee, so unless you are visiting the park for other reasons I wouldn't recommend it for hiking.
A short distance from Little Sahara is the Paul Bunyan's Woodpile trail.  The BLM trail is a moderate two mile trail leading to the "Woodpile," a cluster of lava logs formed about 30 million years ago when lava cooled into columns  measuring about a foot in diameter and up to 15 feet in length.  This was a fun hike and I wish it was the only hike I did so I would have had more time and energy to explore the formation and surrounding area.  


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