This is an ATV trail that travels through some of the most scenic country that Utah has to offer. The trail is best done as a day trip, starting just south of the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, and riding to Mt. Carmel Junction for lunch at the Thunderbird Restaurant, then returning back to the staging area via the same route in the afternoon. Trail surface is sand and some slickrock, with 23 crossings of the Virgin river in each direction. The Virgin River can have significant water in heavy run off months, but not enough to impede travel. In late summer when we did the trail, many of the river crossings are dry. Difficulty rating is "easy", yet this is a very fun trail.
The trailhead is on County Road 43, which travels south from highway 89 in southern Utah, to Colorado City, Arizona. CR-43 is the road that takes you to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, and the turn off to Coral Pink Dunes, from highway 89, is well marked with signs. Here are the dunes, that you will drive past on your way to the trailhead.
The trailhead itself is directly across from this sign, which is 16 miles south of highway 89, on CR-43. If you are coming from the south you will be coming north on the Cane Beds road from Colorado City. The Cane Beds road is a graded gravel road until it crosses the Arizona / Utah border, at which point is becomes the paved road CR-43. The Arizona / Utah border is 4 miles south of this sign that marks the trailhead.
And here is a view of the trailhead parking area, with the above mentioned sign in the foreground. You will be taking the trail that can be seen leaving the staging area on the left side of the picture.
The first portion of the trail consist of fast sandy trails through cedar tree forest, in the high desert.
After several miles you will approach, and enter the Virgin River Gorge.
Once inside the Virgin River Gorge the scenery becomes even better, with red rock cliffs, and numerous water crossings.
The trail through the Virgin River Gorge will come out on a graded gravel road, that follows the gorge to Mt. Carmel Junction. On your way into Mt. Carmel Junction the trail goes right along side the golf course, and comes out at the Chevron station and the Thunderbird Resort. Feel free to park right in front of the restaurant, and go in for lunch.
The Thunderbird Restaurant has some of the best food in all of Utah, every item on their menu that I have tried has been excellent, especially their "Ho Made Pies".
After lunch you can refuel your ATV at the Chevron station if you need to , or simply return to the Coral Pink staging area via your earlier route. Total distance travelled on this trail will be roughly 38 miles. Scenery on the return trip is equally spectacular.
As always in the desert, be prepared, and carry lots of drinking water. Enjoy.