I thought it was legal in Colorado. Honestly officer.
Welcome to the Outlaw Trail where folks are saying Colorado is the new Columbia. Legal dope, cross-dressing, pit bull fighting, driving moonshine blind and anything else you might enjoy ad nauseum, is on the specials menu. Those prepubescent deputies were still behind me somewhere. Way behind. Likely, the noose was just now tightening around Telluride, but that was yesterday’s news. The Telluride Bluegrass Festival had been run out of town and no one of any count was back there. Just leftover hippies and faded banjo pickers. Both totally useless.
With Union Junction in our rear view mirror and the Book Cliffs to our right, we hightailed it toward the dark red blaze of the setting sun. There was no way those cracker cops would dare follow us across the state line, much less all the way to the Green River. Utah is outlaw country and here we call the shots.
That kind of thing is just liable to stick in a man’s crawl. Talking to all you two-faced, horse-stealing, lily-livered, cattle rustlin, chicken-headed, bail jumpers out there! So you’ve been arrested in Colorado for “moral turpitude” and need a place to lay low for a spell. Some cozy spot with a soft bed and fresh water for your thirsty wagon team of Chihuahuas. For clean, comfortable rooms at an affordable price, the Robbers Roost Motel is the choice of travelers in southeastern Utah. You’ll find them located in Green River, just south of the Book Cliffs, near Moab right off Interstate 70, one mile in town off exit 160 from the west and 3 miles in town off exit 164 from the east. Check out their website for more information on where to go and how to get here easy peasy lemon squeezy.
The original Robbers Roost was a popular renegade hideout for over 30 years. Banked between the Colorado River, Green River, and Dirty Devil River is a brutal stretch of land crossed with steep-walled cliffs and shale dune ravines. For years this inhospitable terrain served as a hideout for outlaws of every sorry sort. The area received its colorful name and reputation in the 1870s when Cap Brown ran stolen horses through the area. Robbers Roost offered a plethora of hiding spots and was difficult to penetrate. A Circleville, Utah native named Robert Leroy Parker, better known as Butch Cassidy, began using the Roost in the 1880’s to hide cattle that he rustled. Robbers Roost was a stronghold of the Wild Bunch, his band of bank robbers, train stickup men, and cattle rustlers.
located along the Outlaw Trail in southeastern Utah,, it isn’t far from Green River. At this natural fortress fresh horses were reserved and large quantities of weapons were cached. Cassidy considered it an ideal hideout due to the many lookout points. The original Wild Bunch corral remains in Robbers Roost, in addition to a stone chimney, caves, and several carvings. Due to the difficult terrain, maze of canyons, and extreme heat, the Roost was never successfully penetrated by the law.
Robbers Roost was one of several hideouts along what became known as the Outlaw Trail. Brown’s Hole, a rugged canyon region near the junction of Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming on the Green River, was another such hideout, along with the Hole-in-the-Wall in south-central Wyoming. The three hideouts are strung out in a north-south direction and are about 200 miles apart. These hideouts served as temporary refuges and semi-permanent Wild Bunch headquarters in the 1880s, 90s, and early 1900s.
Another frequent resident of the Roost territory was Matt Warner, who served a cattle-rustling apprenticeship before joining the McCarthy gang along with Cassidy. The future Wild Bunch used Robbers Roost after a Colorado bank robbery in 1889. Members of the Wild Bunch used it again in April 1897 after they stuck up the Pleasant Valley Coal Company. Their hard rides between the string of hideouts were equally impressive. The outlaws were all expert horseman and stressed the importance of strong, well-trained horses and often changed mounts at the various hideouts long the outlaw trail.
During prohibition the Robbers Roost area saw one last surge of illegal activity. A number of unlawful whiskey stills were erected at springs in the hidden canyons. Moonshine was often the only way to earn cash during the depression years and several of the canyons in the Roost still contain evidence of the illegal stills.
A Newcomer’s Guide To Green River:
- The Book Cliffs: Stretching almost 200 miles from east to west, the Book Cliffs begin where the Colorado River descends south through De Beque Canyon into the Grand Valley (Palisade, CO) to Price Canyon (Helper, UT). The cliffs appear mostly along the southern and western rim of the Tavaputs Plateau. North of the Grand River is a wide valley, in which are Cretaceous rocks, the bluffs bordering it being of upper Cretaceous age, beyond which are the Tertiary strata, forming the “Book” or “Roan” Mountains, which are a series of plateaus, next to each other, with cliff-like edges, forming a series of terraces. These features run all the way north to the mountains of central Utah.
This is one of the most secluded areas of the United States and there are endless miles of terrain for you to explore. Leading from Main Street, there are several dirt trails that head north to the Little Elliot Mesa. It’s about a five mile trail with good footing, but once you make it to the interior of the shale dunes near the cliffs, the trails meander and disappear completely or seem to join in with washouts and large creek beds. This area is world famous for free-style dirt bike motorcycle riding. It sure looks fun but consider yourself warned. Leave early before the sun reaches its zenith.
- The Beach: Swasey’s Beach is just north of Green River and is the perfect place to cool down from the summer heat. This white sand beach is shaded by cottonwood trees along the edge of the Book Cliffs. The shallow water is great for families to play in when summer afternoons get hot. If you’re looking for more adventure, there are rapids upstream from the campground that are perfect for kayaking.
- The Library: Everywhere the nailtravels team goes, our business demands a secure and reliable Wi-Fi connection. Often, the best places to sit and use someone else’s internet connection is a bar or a library. These are also both great options when 108 degree temperatures couple with afternoon sand storms. In Green River we utilized the Emery County Library, even when they were closed. Much thanks to Cindy and Julie for helping with our research and allowing Lucienda to patronize the facility. If you need more information on Green River history or surrounding attractions, they can definitely steer you in the right direction.
- Robbers Roost Motel: Come see how renegades and rustlers get by these days. There’s a standard of excellence to which every cowboy must maintain and it usually involves cable television and free Wi-Fi. The motel is open 9am to 11pm Monday through Saturdays and closed on Sundays (make reservations here). They are family owned and operated, so if you call and Jose is out of the office, please leave a message and one of their qualified personnel will get in touch with you shortly. Please specify as to whether you’d like your message sent in the form of a call, text, email or smoke signal.
This post was sponsored by the Robbers Roost Motel in exchange for a warm bed and a cool bath after camping in the desert for three days. I had sand deep down inside my software. Green River will amaze you with all of the various outdoor activities in which to engage. All opinions belong to nailtravels. So get along little doggies and make tracks for where the Green River runs south of the Little Eliot Mesa and hitch your horses up at the Robber’s Roost Motel in Green River, Utah.