Go to Kolob Reservoir they said.  It will be fun they said.  If driving straight up a mountain and almost overheating several times is fun, then OK.  If getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with no service is fun, then yes, it is fun.

The side story to this was right before leaving Vegas I went in to one of my Facebook groups and asked if there were any great places to boondock around Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park.  I love these groups.  Most times they prove to be incredibly helpful and get you to places that aren’t easy to find unless someone tells you about it.  Kolob Reservoir is one that people were raving about so this is where we decided to go.

On a positive note this place is GORGEOUS!  It truly is breathtaking and had we been told the end of April was a bad time to go, we would have skipped it.  So here is your warning:  WARNING: DO NOT GO TO KOLOB RESERVOIR BEFORE MAY.

Luckily we had the Jetta detached when we arrived at the top of the reservoir.  When we arrived it was unclear as to whether we should go left or right.  Neither looked promising so I took off in the Jetta to check out our options.  First I went right.  I got about 100 feet down the road before it was obvious that the mud wasn’t just covering the road, it had completely engulfed it and there was no way we would ever get Wanda down that way and if we had even attempted it we would have been in BIG trouble.

kolob reservoir zion national park

Next I went left.  I got about 100 yards out and realized very quickly that this wasn’t going to work either.  This experience was a little different then the right side of the road though.  This side I thought I could turn around and go back to tell Jason we needed to turn around and brave the long drive straight down the mountain and hopefully not blow out our brakes or go flying off a cliff.  Yeah, not stressful AT ALL!

kolob reservoir

So, as I’m attempting to turn around, of course I get stuck.  At first I’m thinking, “No problem.  I grew up in Wisconsin.  I’ve gotten stuck plenty of times, and I know what to do so I’ll be good.”  Well, I was as wrong as I have ever been.  I got that poor Jetta so stuck I thought I would never get her back.  However, I was lucky that there were 3 guys wearing waders ready for such an experience.  I open up the door and look at them as they are walking towards me and tell them “It’s OK guys….go ahead and laugh at me.  I would too.”  They slightly giggled but stated they were coming to push me out.  And that is what they did.  Two minutes later I was no longer stuck and I was heading back to tell Jason we needed to turn around.

At this point he had decided to make an “Educated” decision and head left since I hadn’t returned yet.  We were beyond blessed at this point that the first part of the area left was cement.  It’s the boat landing area and there was no mud there.  Also, we were lucky enough that it was large enough that we were able to turn Wanda around to head down.

But hey, we were here already and the views were beautiful so why not enjoy our lunch?  Besides, I was starting to get hangry and we had no idea where we were going to go next since we didn’t have service and this was the only place we had in mind to go.  So 30 minutes of lunch and selfies and we are off.  Time to go test these brakes and pray we don’t have another Deadwood, South Dakota experience, but to be honest, we were not hopeful at all.  We knew the grade we were up against and it wasn’t promising.

kolob reservoir
kolob reservoir utah

So, a long story short, the brakes smoked, blew up and we started soaring down the mountain facing death in the face.  OK, that isn’t exactly how it went but it’s how it felt.  Yes, the brakes were smoking.  There weren’t as many places to pull over going down to cool off your brakes as there were going up to cool off your engine.  About half way down the mountain, as I’m following and freaking out, we find a spot to pull over and cool down the brakes.  Jason is driving Wanda freaking out that we aren’t going to make it as he smells the brakes and the smoke rolling out (before you ask or judge, yes we were in the lowest gear).  I decided that I’m going to go ahead and see how many more pullouts there are so we can gauge what to do next.  It’s probably important that I mention at this point I have been driving on 1/16th of a tank and we still do not have cell service.

Yes, we like to test our limits and defy the odds.  OK, no we don’t but we didn’t have the Jetta full to save on weight while towing and didn’t figure we would need more than 1/4 of a tank wherever we went.  Well, you will be happy to know that there were 2 more spots to pull over at and I did not run out of gas.  Thanks to Jason’s expert Mountaineer Driving (yes, we call him the Mountaineer Driver and me the Wind Warrior).  We finally made it down that mountain and in to civilization to get gas and figure out our next move.

The moral of this story is:

  • Do NOT go to Kolob Reservoir before May
  • Do research beforehand.  Winging it doesn’t always work.
  • Scope out a place with a smaller vehicle before getting yourself deep.
  • Have 1/2 a tank of gas in your tow, just in case, you know……..
  • If you are going to get stuck, make sure it is where there are already people wearing waders ready to push you out.