Robber’s Roost – A different kind of endurance ride…

As we sit here in SnowBird, Utah, watching Hubby like an egg… my mind wonders about this incredible landscape.

It wasn’t always a ski resort.

I started thinking about how Robert Redford bought a canyon up here and named it Sundance.  I remembered how in the ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ movie, the Wild Bunch (Hole in the Wall Gang) would ride into harsh Utah territory to escape the lawmen.

That thread got me thinking about The OUTLAW TRAIL.

And, one of the stops on The Outlaw Trail was Robber’s Roost, here in Utah.

The thespian Butch and Sundance



Don’t quote me on any of this because I have to admit that my mind has been a bit frayed by the broken neck of my Hubby (he is recovering well and thanks all of you for your kind thoughts which I have relayed exactingly).  However, from all the literature I have just grazed, the story goes like this…

The Outlaw Trail is an overland trail even though it is called an underground trail.  The reason it is called an underground trail is because it isn’t official.  No one, it is said, knew the entire trail.  And, since the very treacherous and mountainous trail started in Canada and went down to Mexico, it was easy to see why no one knew the entire trail.

Some say the trail was started by pluralist Mormons who wanted to escape the law.  They would use this trail to escape to Mexico/Canada.

Since Butch Cassidy (LeRoy Parker) was born and raised a Mormon in Utah, he was aware of the ‘Mormon’ escape trail.

Once Butch started his cattle rustling ways, he would use this trail to run the horses or cattle (or money) he had stolen.  This ‘trail’ gained in popularity and soon many outlaws were using it to hide and transport their stolen goods.

Thus, the name The ‘Outlaw’ Trail.

The Outlaw Trail



There were farmers and ranchers all along the trail.  They lived ‘way out’ because they wanted to.  These ranchers/farmers had a suspicion of the law.

So, here comes affable Butch who showered these folks with money to purchase new horses for his riders as well as allow for care of his tired horses.

Sometimes Butch would deliver cattle to be fattened.  Or, he’d plump the town’s economy in other ways.

Yup, the rancher/farmers liked him.  They liked him better than the ‘law’.  The townspeople never questioned him and they were happy to help him.

So, when the posse would come to town looking for Butch, no one knew anything.

Robber's Roost



Cassidy knew his way around the inhospitable mountains.  But he couldn’t survive without help.

Cleverly, Butch would use local papers to encode a message that he would be passing through (this is also how he informed his gang of a new heist).  Particular ranchers would have new horses available and water.

When the Long Riders got into town, they were totally freshened and off again.

The posse wasn’t.

Yeah, just meet me after the first crook beyond the tree and the slot up there...



One of the stops on The Outlaw Trail is Robber’s Roost.  It is in South Eastern Utah.

Looking at the photos, I cannot believe anyone could ever find any one place here.  OMG.  You couldn’t just drop a few acorns and find your way…

This is Robber's Roost now - couldn't you just imagine horses flying through there, splashing in the water and thundering down the canyon?!

I would never have survived as a gang member (there were 5 girls in the gang).  I am too afraid of ledges and cliffs.  Ai Che Wowza!  They must have all had incredible horses!  I mean, I could see a mule doing this but a horse?  I’m sure donkeys would have been the best at traversing the territory but wouldn’t go fast enough to elude a posse, but a mule could, maybe.

Anyway, Yikes!

Those horses must have been incredibly awesome.  A different kind of endurance horse, eh?

The entrance to Robber's Roost



So, there was an actual town of Robber’s Roost.  Butch’s gang might hang out there for a month at a time.  There was plenty of food (somehow) and plenty of water (somehow).

The old town still exists although the original buildings are not restored so they are ramshackle.  This is sad to me.  But, I doubt all that many people really want to trek all the way out there for a vacation… so probably tourism isn’t funding anything huge there.

However, Robber’s Roost does beckon hikers, backpackers, horseback riders (it didn’t say anything else about that), and ATV enthusiasts.

It has many steep, narrow slot canyons popular with technical canyoneers (that’s an understatement).

The town now


Most of the folks that venture into Robber’s Roost are hardcore boulder climbers or mountaineers.

Remember the mountain climber who caught his arm under a boulder and had to saw it off with his Swiss Army Knife?  The movie ‘127 Hours’ was based on his story.

He was in Robber’s Roost Canyon…

On April 26, 2003, 28 year-old Aron Ralston, without telling anyone his plans, set out alone through Robbers Roost. Five days later, after several unsuccessful attempts to dislodge an 800-pound boulder that was crushing his right hand, Ralston snapped the radius and ulna of his forearm near the wrist, applied a makeshift tourniquet and sawed through the cartilage with a throwaway multi-tool. He later rappelled to the base of Blue John Canyon until he came upon a rescue helicopter.

A canyon in Robber's Roost


Thank you for letting me ramble about not much.  However, to me, as I look out onto the mountains out here in SnowBird, I truly see cowboys out in them thar hills – and the horses they rode in on…  Incredible.

This was a 'resident' horse of Robber's Roost. The original endurance horse, eh?



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HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

Only one comment so far...

  1. Allen Smith

    Neat to see the map!
    I am from Animas NM. Not many people left that know any history on the Diamond A. It ran from Cloverdale to Lordsburg to Deming and back.
    My grandmother was a teacher on the Diamond A or upper Animas area. She taught ranch kids rustler kids and Mexican kids. I grew up with Evans and Clantons!
    Anyway neat history ?
    Allen Smith

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