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Backcountry Travel Guides - Media Review - 4WD Adventures: Utah

Posted in Events on December 1, 2000
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Backcountry travel guides for vehicle use were once simple booklets with minimal information on places to go and things to see. However, in recent years, guides for vehicle recreation off the pavement have begun to rival some of the top travel guide offerings for the conventional tourist. 4WD Adventures: Utah is perhaps the most comprehensive backcountry guidebook we've seen to date. It has a wealth of information that would-be explorers really need in order to get where they want to go, as well as entertaining and useful information once they're at their destination.

The latest offering from Peter Massey and Jeanne Wilson is 4WD Adventures: Utah and it offers users of any level experience information to make any adventure more pleasurable. This new book follows in the rich tradition set by their original book, 4WD Adventures: Colorado. In this book, the authors first lay the groundwork for a deeper appreciation the of the Beehive State. In a section entitled "Along the Trail," they provide a fully alphabetized glossary of famous towns and ghosts towns in Utah, with a short history of each, which trail it lies along, and its exact GPS coordinates so you can drive right to it.

Since many of the trails in Utah are rich in history, this section also has a bit of information on the historical trails you are likely to explore. These include Hole-in-the-Rock, Outlaw, and Spanish trails. In addition, a brief history on the railroads that led to the growth of the West are mentioned here. And what's a history lesson without the colorful characters to spark your imagination? Short biographies of some of the region's most famous men and women are also covered here; people such as Kit Carson, Brigham Young, and Ann Bassett are just a few. Also included is information on the American Indian tribes that have inhabited Utah as well as historic events, and more. This section is very well written and makes for interesting reading. In fact, similar to any good history book, once you get started, it's hard to put it down. Not only will it help flesh out your adventures off road, it will also broaden your appreciation of this beautiful country.

For those with a bent toward zoology and botany, 4WD Adventures: Utah also provides an extensive look at the wildlife you can expect to find during your sojourns, from elk, bobcat, and coyote, to marmot, rattlesnake, and the Great Horned Owl. Massey and Wilson discuss each one's behavior and habitat, providing color photographs throughout. The overview of plant life is equally as interesting and offers great detail about many of Utah's trees and flowers.

With the impressive amount of detail given to every aspect of this travel guide, you would expect the trail coverage to be better still - and it is. Every trail includes a large map that indicates not only the route itself with the trail heads clearly marked, but also major highways, nearby campgrounds, and side trails. A green-colored box opens each trail heading and provides information about the starting and the finishing points, the total mileage (paved and unpaved), approximate driving time, the highest elevation on the trail, what time of year it is usually open, and, of course, its difficulty rating. Wonderful descriptions of what you can expect to find along these trails along with their histories and any special attractions you should keep an eye out for, including camping sites, scenic views, and hiking paths are also provided.

Perhaps most impressive are the extensive GPS coordinates that are provided for every trail. It is, by far, the most comprehensive use of GPS that we have ever seen included in a trail guide. Dozens of waypoints are listed for every one of the more than 70 trails in 4WD Adventures: Utah, making it one of the most genuinely usable and useful trail guides around. If there is a fork in the road, an alternate trail, a river crossing, or just something the authors think you should see, there is a coordinate marking the way. 4WD Adventures: Utah offers more than double the number of trails of the Colorado book, with 175 to choose from.

If you are planning any four-wheel adventures through the Utah outback, you owe it to yourself and your passengers to take this book along. The wealth of information is second to none, and the presentation makes it a pleasure to read.

For more information about 4WD Adventures: Utah, contact: Swagman Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 519, Castle Rock, CO 80104, (800) 660-5107, or ask your local retailer for ISBN 0-9665675-1-X.

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