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Horseback up the Cassidy Trail

On the back of a horse, I rode in the hoofprints that Butch Cassidy rode while he was evading Panguitch Town Sheriff Haycock. I rode up through Utah’s brilliant, red canyons past hoodoos and ponderosa pines to a couple of his hide-outs. Hearing stories of Butch from a local historian and riding in his hoof prints was a once in a lifetime experience.

Where: Dixie National Forest, Utah

Distance: About 16 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation: 7,320′ to 7,980′

Date: May 25, 2016

I had the amazing opportunity to pretend I was a cowgirl on the Red Rock Ride (link at the end) and should start with introducing you to my trusty horse for a week of riding in Utah that included, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and areas of Dixie National Forest where Butch Cassidy rode. Please meet Champ.

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Me and Champ (Photo by Red Rock Ride)

I rode 6 days in Utah’s beautiful country, each day different from the others. I picked a couple of days of riding to share with you, the first being the Butch Cassidy Trail. Butch Cassidy’s given name was Robert LeRoy Parker, born April 15, 1966 at Beaver, Utah and raised by his parents at a ranch near Circleville, Utah. When he was a teenager, he came under the influence of a rustler named Mike Cassidy and left home to join the outlaw life. It is said that he was an expert horseman and knew the trails and canyons in the area where he was raised better than anyone. Robberies by the his “Hole in the Wall Gang” in Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and Utah were conducted through 1901, then they headed to South America. There are mixed stories on whether Butch and the Sundance Kid died there or returned to the United States where they led their quiet lives out. Hearing the stories of Butch Cassidy from locals and relatives of ancestors of him paint him as a kind of “Robin Hood” as they shared numerous stories or how he helped out locals who were down on their luck. The 1969 movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman, was actually filmed in this area.

The outfit at the Red Rock Ride is a well oiled machine that had us and the stock loaded up and on the trail by 9. Riding from Red Rock Canyon into Losee Canyon, the views were amazing.

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Helen, Me and Sue: 3 Amigos on This Ride

Looking down at those canyons with their winding trails, some of them into a dead end, made you appreciate how skilled Butch was in their country.

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On we rode through the beautiful red rock country. The colors ranged from vibrant bright reds  to subtle pinks and weird shaped rocks called hoodoos were all over the area.

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We approached the landmark known as the Mexican Hat. Butch would have had a clear view of our dust as we reached this area and then a clear view of us once we passed it.

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We reached a spot to stop for lunch, tying up our stock and stretched our legs. I sat down near the local historian that rode with us to eat my lunch, hearing his stories about Butch while we ate. He told us that this was one of Butch’s hideouts, really used more as a cache. Many years later, a gun, along with a strongbox and keys were found nearby this.

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Me at One of Butch’s Hideouts

After lunch we headed down the trail, riding next to the cabin that Butch and his gang used. It is said that Sheriff Haycock burned this cabin and only the chimney remains today.

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Chimney From Cabin that Butch Hid Out In

Another reason Butch’s hideouts in this area worked so well for him is that he had a year round supply of good water nearby.

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Down the riverbed we rode, past interesting red rock and hoodoo formations.

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We made it back to the trailers where the stock were loaded.

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They had a van to transport the riders back to the ranch at Tropic, Utah where we relaxed with a wonderful dinner, a band and a beautiful sunset.

P1180598rThis was just one of 6 riding days that I took on this trip, each one completely different, ranging from about 15 to 30 miles each day. I had such a fun time playing cowgirl, riding on the trails that the outlaws, settlers and cowboys rode. We learned of the rich history of this country but we didn’t exactly rough it. We were served up our meals by Robert Houston and his outfit, each meal truly delicious and we packed up our sack lunches for our saddlebags each day. Each night had different entertainment that included a cowboy singer, cowboy poet, a western band and much more. We even got a Farm Tour of Pete Mangum’s stock operation, the provider of our stock and wranglers. The sunsets were to oooh and ahh over. We had weather that included a few drops of rain, thunder and lightening, snow and warm sun. When it was time to get cleaned up, we had hot showers and real bathrooms and our heated cabins to rest up in. If this is your type of adventure, I cannot give them high enough marks. It really is an adventure of a lifetime and I feel very lucky to have experienced with my amigos, Sue and Helen.

Sources:

Red Rock Ride

Garfield County Trails: Cassidy Trail

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