Off Road Trail Spotlight: Gooseberry Mesa Grafton – St. George, Utah Trails

After a hectic week, nothing beats rounding up your family or a group of friends and planning a trip into the desert in the southwest, especially if you can also explore an abandoned ghost town while at it.

At Dixie 4 Wheel Drive, we love heading into the desert and to see what secrets it holds. You can sign up for our southern Utah trail rides to join us and other avid off-roaders on one of our trips. We can guarantee that you’ll learn a lot, not just about off-roading, but also about the history of the surrounding area.

One such great trail ride is from Gooseberry Mesa to Grafton.

Gooseberry Mesa and Grafton

To get to Gooseberry Mesa we usually start by grouping at the Apple Valley Chevron, heading east for a couple of miles then turning north on Smithsonian Butte National Back Country Byway. From there after another couple of miles, the Gooseberry Mesa trail should be on the left.

Along the way, you’ll go past parts of the Zion National Park where you can get views of sandstone buttes and incredible vistas no matter where you look. The Byway also goes past the Virgin River floodplain in Rockville. Vegetation in this area mostly consists of juniper woodlands interspersed with colorful canyons.

To the east is the Canaan Mountain Wilderness with the Smithsonian Butte towering over everything else. You can also spot the Vermillion Cliffs and the Eagle Crags. To the west are Grafton Mesa, Wire Mesa and Pastry Ridge, all making up a series of drainages and ridges.

The road to Grafton is a little bumpy and dusty and becomes impassable after it rains. The ghost town itself is in relatively good condition with some of the buildings being mostly intact. This town grew from the mid-1800s before declining in the 1900s. You can walk around to check out the church and old meeting hall buildings as well as some sheds. These are mostly made of logs and brickwork and they’ve survived over the years. You can also take a look at the Grafton cemetery. Some of the tombstones are still legible, giving a fascinating glimpse of how these early pioneers lived in such challenging times.

Gooseberry Mesa Grafton Trip Preparation

While the road to Grafton is well maintained, you still need a map of the area to know where you’re going. You can download one from our online store.

Since you’ll be heading into the desert, ensure that you wear suitable clothing and carry enough water, food and sunscreen for the trip. Also bring your rig to our 4WD auto shop in St. George where you can choose one of our vehicle build packages designed to prepare your rig for the trip or to bring it back up to speed after an excursion.

Remember to be a responsible off-roader and stick to the designated trails to help preserve this beautiful desert landscape.

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