Category Archives: Trip Reports

Outlaw Cabin and the Old Gate Canyon Road

On Christmas day of 2018, I was seeking something outdoorsy to do the following day. While poking around in Google Earth I somehow managed to spot an old cabin that I’d been searching for for the past few years! I had seen this cabin referenced in one book and two places on the internet as an “outlaw cabin.” All three of those references vaguely mentioned the location of this cabin, but none were precicely correct, hence my difficulty in finding it.

It snowed on Christmas night, and I left home the morning of the 26th and faced snow-packed roads leading through Nine Mile Canyon. I caught up to two Carbon County snow plows but they stopped near the county line and I was blazing my own trail from then on. I eventually reached my intended parking spot, donned my gaiters, and began hiking. It wasn’t a long hike and I soon reached the “outlaw cabin” nestled in a saddle between two hills. It was smaller than I could have imagined based on the single old black-and-white photo I’d seen. That photo showed four full walls, with a window and doorway, a roof, and a chimney. Today the roof is missing, as well as four upper courses of rock making up the walls. The chimney is also gone, but judging by the old photo it wasn’t a real chimney but, instead, some square rocks stacked to look like a chimney. This was confirmed by the lack of a fireplace inside. The cabin is also built on a slope, leaving a very skewed floor. The longest internal dimension is less than six feet, meaning that somebody my height would have to sleep diagonally inside. I still can’t figure out why this building was built, but I certainly don’t think it was ever used for living quarters. It seems more like a kid’s playhouse.

My parking spot
My parking spot

Following a cow trail visible under the snow
Following a cow trail visible under the snow

The saddle and the “outlaw cabin”
The saddle and the "outlaw cabin"

Ruined stone cabin
Ruined stone cabin

Very tiny interior, less than 6 feet in its longest dimension
Very tiny interior, less than 6 feet in its longest dimension

Mud chinking between stones
Mud chinking between stones

Panoramic view from the cabin
Panoramic view from the cabin

I hiked back to my Jeep still pondering why the cabin was originally built. Just before reaching my vehicle I spotted a camp trailer painted to match the pinyon/juniper forest. I hiked over and peered inside, seeing that it still had clothes and cans of food inside, but no footprints in the snow around it. It was kind of creepy so I didn’t spent a lot of time inspecting it.

My route back to the Jeep over this hill
My route back to the Jeep over this hill

Footprints in the snow
Footprints in the snow

I spied a camp trailer in the trees
I spied a camp trailer in the trees

Camp trailer
Camp trailer

The head of Devil’s Canyon
The head of Devil's Canyon

Next I headed back toward Price, stopping at two places in Gate Canyon to check out the original road that served as a stage route starting in 1886 between Price and Fort Duchesne. The route probably existed well before 1886, but it was improved that year by the all-black 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers for access to the rail line in Price. The two sections that I visited showed signs of construction, as well as the names of freighters and other travelers drawn in axle grease on the canyon walls. As I finished up my last hike along the old road, a storm was moving in and I hurried home through Nine Mile Canyon where most of the snow from the morning had already melted.

Old Gate Canyon road
Old Gate Canyon road

Old Gate Canyon road
Old Gate Canyon road

Retaining wall holding up the road
Retaining wall holding up the road

Road above retaining wall
Road above retaining wall

Old Gate Canyon road
Old Gate Canyon road

Portion of Gate Canyon bypassed by the modern road
Portion of Gate Canyon bypassed by the modern road

Wallace Wardle, 19010
Wallace Wardle, 19010

? Wardle; Rossie Steele, May 13, 1907
? Wardle; Rossie Steele, May 13, 1907

C.H. Brum, No. 15, 1887; Henry Timothy, Roosevelt or Bust; Allie Wardle; Wilford M. Wall, July 1, ????
C.H. Brum, No. 15, 1887; Henry Timothy, Roosevelt or Bust; Allie Wardle; Wilford M. Wall, July 1, ????

Gate Canyon
Gate Canyon

Tom Birchell, July 15; Clif Pierce, Feb. ’15
Tom Birchell, July 15; Clif Pierce, Feb. '15

Alma Knight, June ????
Alma Knight, June ????

Old road climbing out of Gate Canyon
Old road climbing out of Gate Canyon


Photo Gallery: Outlaw Cabin and the Old Gate Canyon Road