DOINews: End of the Road for Bureau of Land Management Utah's #OSTadventure

Last edited 09/05/2019

Last week, four BLMers from Utah completed a unique adventure, traveling over 400 miles of the Old Spanish Trail in Utah. Joined by Bureau of Land Management Utah's new media lead and video-grapher, the team documented their adventure as they traveled along the historical route.

The #OSTadventure crew headed out on the trail to meet Interior Secretary Jewell's challenge for Department of the Interior employees: “to pass on our nation's rich conservation legacy and to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors.” (Read more about the launch of Secretary Jewell's initiative to expand opportunities for youth on public lands.)

Each day of the journey, the #OSTadventure crew shared trip updates, with beautiful photography, on social media at #OSTadventure and the BLM Daily, the organization's internal employee blog.

The final trip update and closing thoughts from the travelers are included below.


Day 5: For the better part of a week, we had traveled 400 miles along the Old Spanish Trail, searching for traces of the past, in hopes of inspiring a new generation (ourselves included) to get outside and experience public lands first-hand. Ripe with culture, history and beauty, the Old Spanish National Historic Trail provides ample opportunity for adventure.

Old Spanish Trail sign

Facing sensory overload, the #OSTadventure crew rolled in to Moab, Utah for our final day of voyage. After a quick look around, we decided it was time to pull the bikes out and experience some of Moab's world-famous single-track. Accompanied by Mike Adler, a local guide, the group rode along the Bar-M trail and, then, down along the highway toward town.

#OSTadventure crew bikes through Moab

Passing a lone cowboy on horseback along the side of the road, we stopped to take a closer look. Here, we met Pat, the last John Wayne of the West and his horse Dillon - riding the Old Spanish Trail the way it was meant to be ridden. He carried a bed roll and a dog (Bufford) on his shoulder, even made his own bullets for the six-shooter on his hip.

#OSTadventure crew meets up with cowboy on his horse

Inspired by our run in with Pat and Dillon, the #OSTadventure crew decided it was time to saddle-up and mosey on down the Old Spanish Trail.

#OSTadventure crew on horseback

Saving the best for last on our #OSTadventure, we met up with BLM Moab paleontologist Rebecca Hunt-Foster at the Poison Spider Trailhead to look for dinosaur tracks near the Old Spanish Trail. After a short hike up from the hillside, we stopped at a fantastic location where we found part and counterpart tracks of three toed meat eating dinosaurs.

#OSTadventure crew hunts for fossils

Included below are final insights from the #OSTadventure travelers.

“National Historic Trails are awesome because they encapsulate the entirety of public lands so well. Historic trails offer access to cultural, recreational, and visual resources. They also provide the opportunity to connect at a historical level to the landscapes that surround us. They tell the story of how the American continent was settled. After traveling along the Historic trails with modern conveniences I am convinced that the men and women that once traveled and forged these trails are the astronauts of today.” - Gordo Wood, visual resource management intern, American Conservation Experience

“While I could discuss the excitement I experienced from learning about the historical significance and cultural aspects the trail has to offer, my takeaways from our OSTadventure were defined by the recreational opportunities available to us along the trail: climbing, hiking, camping, mountain biking, geo-caching, and horseback riding were just some of the activities available on 400 mile journey. With more time and resources we could have done even more. Getting the opportunity to travel along the Old Spanish Trail with seasoned BLMers was a life-changing experience that opened my eyes to all the fun that can be had on Utah's public lands. I hope our story encourages everyone to get outside and start playing!” - Matt Martin, planning intern, ACE

“As we traveled the Old Spanish Trail, I was struck by the vast historical time-line. From discoveries of rock art and inscriptions to glass bottles, medicine containers, and dinosaur tracks, we found evidence of traders, Ute Native Americans, railroad workers, ranchers, and dinosaurs. Despite these archaeological and paleontological finds, the history that “blew our minds” was the discovery of an old railroad culvert; all that remained of a railroad grade washed away by years of flash flooding. The sheer power of swiftly moving water, combined with the realization that we were most likely the first people to stumble upon the culvert in years, left us dumbstruck and eager for future discoveries. In the few days we had to follow the trail, our knowledge of the land and those who crossed it greatly expanded. The cultural opportunities are endless, and the discoveries are only just the beginning.” - Hannah Cowan, paleontology intern, ACE

End of the road for #OSTadventure crew


So what's next for the #OSTadventure crew? They already have plans for a video or collection of videos of the trip, tied to Quick Response codes and posted at kiosks on or near the trial. And the group has considered a longer high production video and a photo journal for use in traditional venues as well as social media /digital publication.

Through the links below, read more of the #OSTadventure posts on the BLM's Tumblr site, My Public Lands – a blog run primarily by BLM interns and younger employees to engage the next generation of environmental stewards, scientists and natural resource managers.

-Follow the #OSTadventure!

-Day 1 of the #OSTadventure

-Day 2 of the #OSTadventure

-Day 3 of the #OSTadventure

-Day 4 of the #OSTadventure

Story and photos by Chad Douglas, webmaster and social media lead, BLM-Utah

Nov. 15, 2013

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