- 78 miles (125 km)
- Allow 2 hours travel time, with a few more to hunt for rock art and Fremont sites.
- No fees.
Although the name can be misleading, the 80-mile Nine Mile Canyon provides family-friendly entertainment for campers and day-trippers alike. Whether stopping by to see the famous petroglyphs or looking to learn about the Freemont culture, this backway is the ideal attraction.
Nine Mile Canyon offers many educational opportunities, beginning with why a canyon nearly 80 miles long would be named like it is! The most popular legend claims that the canyon was mistakenly named to match the Nine Mile Creek that runs alongside the backway, but you could learn about all the others at the CEU Prehistoric Museum in Price, about seven miles distance from the southern end of the backway. The museum also has exhibits on dinosaurs, Native Americans, and the mining history of the area to fascinate child and adult alike. Besides the museum, the nearby cities offer enthralling glimpses into Utah's past. For example, the community of Helper got its name from the extra locomotive engines that would "help" trains get over the coming mountains.
Once you actually start heading down the backway, an array of intriguing petroglyphs and ancient Freemont Indian ruins can be found. Turn off into Cottonwood Canyon and on a ridge near the entrance, you will find the remains of a Freemont Indian Village. Spend some time interpreting the artifacts and learning about the culture and lifestyle of the Freemonts. Not far from here, you'll find the exceptional "Hunting Scene" petroglyph. Depicting hunters with bows and arrows, a shamanic figure, and a shielded figure among a herd of big horn sheep. "Hunting Scene" is also the subject of one of the murals in the Prehistoric Museum.
If you wanted to turn your visit into a stay, Starvation Reservoir, just 25 miles from the north end of the byway, is a great place to cool off in the summer heat. The lake is small and remote enough that it doesn't attract big crowds but is just the right size to take the boat for a spin or teach the kids to water-ski in the harbored coves. With 54 RV sites and 20 tent sites available with modern restrooms, showers, and group-use sites, you might find yourself coming back each summer to Starvation State Park and Nine Mile Canyon.