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Stephanie Vermillion
Stephanie Vermillion

A Ghost Town Side Trip in Southwest Utah

Stephanie Vermillion
Stephanie Vermillion

Smack dab between Zion National Park and Red Cliffs National Conservation Area lies a small, abandoned town that was the place to be, be seen, and get rich in the late 1800s. Silver Reef, Utah, one of the Southwest’s most popular ghost towns, was a flourishing mining spot back in the day, filled with western saloons, old prospectors, and plenty of shoot-outs.

While Silver Reef is all ruins, no riches today, its crumbling rock walls hold an interesting history for visitors who take the time to stop by.

Silver Reef’s story starts in 1866, when the prospector John Kemple uncovered a vein of silver in the town’s sandstone—a first-of-its-kind discovery. Geologists spent years refuting his claims, until a group of bankers from Salt Lake City caught wind of the breakthrough and staked their mining claims in the Silver Reef region.

Silver Reef quickly evolved into a flourishing mining town, with 33 mines that produced more than 7 million ounces of silver. During 1879, its peak year, the town boasted a hotel, boarding houses, stores, saloons, restaurants, banks, a newspaper—the Silver Reef Miner—and a population of more than 1000 people.

And, like all good ghost (town) stories, Silver Reef was full of seedy characters who brought gambling, prostitution, shoot-outs, violence and all those The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly-isms to town. After a major fire and many miner strikes, Silver Reef went on the decline in the 1890s before turning into the abandoned roadside ghost town that it is today.

While it’s not a destination where you’d want to spend more than a couple hours, Silver Reef is an interesting stop-off for Southwest road trippers. Four key sights to add to your itinerary include:

1. The Silver Reef Museum is housed in the oldest Wells Fargo Express Station still in existence. Built in 1878, silver was guarded at and exported from the old station, which made it an integral part of Silver Reef’s prosperity. Today, the museum houses old bottles, guns, carpentry tools, and other historical items that help illustrate the mining life of yesteryear.

2. The Cosmopolitan Restaurant was owned by a Bavarian woman who is said to have made some of the best hash in the west. The original building was dismantled in 1895, at the tail-end of when locals were in a mass exodus from the imploding Silver Reef, but a replica of the Cosmopolitan still stands today.

Stephanie Vermillion

3. Silver Reef’s Main Street was filled with flourishing, bustling businesses, such as the Louder General Store, which was run by the town newspaper's editor. Today, it’s everything you’d expect from an abandoned old ghost town—tumbleweed, cactuses, crippled buildings, and an eerie desert silence.

4. The Elk Horn Saloon was once easily recognizable because of the giant elk horns mounted to its front sign (which are now on display at the town museum; the saloon is no longer standing, and is now marked by a large sign). For about 15 years, the bar was run by a successful German owner who gave out free food to get people drinking. According to Silver Reef historians, the saloon owner’s business luck nearly wore out when he ousted a man for eating—but not drinking—at his bar. The angry patron came back with a vengeance and a gun, and in typical old west fashion, initiated a shoot-out. Fortunately for the community, the man missed five times, so the staff kept working and the drinks kept a-comin’.

Stephanie Vermillion

Silver Reef is located in Leeds, Utah, right off I-15. It’s 40 minutes west of Zion, 30 minutes northeast of Red Cliffs, and—ironically for a ghost town—is adjacent to an upscale neighborhood with satellite dishes and swimming pools. Someone’s gotta keep the tumbleweed in line, right?

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13 Tricks and Tips to Get the Most Out of Google Maps
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It’s hard to imagine life without Google Maps. Memorizing routes and printing out driving directions seems like a distant memory in a world where a detailed map of any location is available at a moment's notice. Still, you could be using it more. Google’s popular software is packed with secrets, tricks, and Easter eggs beyond what you might expect. Ahead of the popular tool's update later this year, here are 13 ways to get the most out of Google Maps, from one-handed use to offline location tracking.

1. CHECK WAIT TIMES AT YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT

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Before you head out for dinner, use Google Maps to see if you’re about to waste an hour standing in line. Just search for the name of the restaurant on your desktop browser or in Google Maps for iOS and Android. Then, scroll down to the Popular Times chart and select a specific time. There, you'll see how long the wait usually is at that time and make your plans accordingly.

2. SEE HOW STEEP YOUR BIKE RIDE WILL BE


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There’s nothing worse than unexpectedly hitting a big hill while riding your bike. Next time, plug your route into Google Maps and ask for biking directions. You’ll see a graph that shows the steepness of each part of your trip and be able to avoid those big inclines in the future.

3. ADD MULTIPLE DESTINATIONS TO YOUR TRIP

Google Maps typically defaults to simple point-A-to-point-B for directions, but it’s easy to add an extra stop to your trip. In a browser, press the “+” icon under your destination. On Android or iOS, tap on the three horizontal dots in the top right corner to pull up a menu and then select “Add stop.”

4. TRAVEL THROUGH TIME WITH STREET VIEW

Street View is a fun way to explore neighborhoods all over the world, but it’s also a treasure trove of old photos. Just launch Street View in your browser and click on the clock-shaped icon in the top left corner. From there, you can browse through all the pictures Google’s taken over the years for any specific spot.

5. MEASURE DISTANCE

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If you’re using Google Maps in your browser you can easily measure the distance between any two locations. Right click somewhere on the map and select “Measure Distance.” Then, click anywhere else to see how far away it is.

6. USE GOOGLE MAPS WITHOUT AN INTERNET CONNECTION

If you’re traveling and you know you won’t have any internet, you can download a map of the area ahead of time. Pull up that location in Google Maps on your phone. Then, open the settings menu and select “Offline maps” to save it. When you arrive, you’ll be able to view the map without any service and even track your location thanks to GPS.

7. SEE YOUR ENTIRE GOOGLE MAPS HISTORY

Google Maps tracks you everywhere you go, and you can pull that information up whenever you want. Head to this website to see a detailed map of all the places you’ve ever been. If that creeps you out, you can also click on “Manage Location History” to switch this feature off.

8. ZOOM IN AND OUT WITH JUST ONE FINGER

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Pinch-to-zoom works fine most of the time, but if you only have one free hand it’s not that easy to do. Thankfully, there’s another option that only requires one free finger: Tap twice on your smartphone screen and then hold your finger down on the spot you want to get a closer look at. Google Maps will zoom in, and from there you can adjust the scale by sliding your finger up and down.

9. REMEMBER WHERE YOU PARKED YOUR CAR

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The next time you park your car, boot up Google Maps and tap on the blue dot that shows your location. When a menu pops up, select “Set as parking location” to leave a marker on your map for later so you can easily find your car when you’re ready to leave.

10. TURN THE STREET VIEW ICON INTO A UFO

If you want to have a little fun with Pegman, the yellow Street View figure, just search for Area 51 in Google Maps. Then, grab the man-shaped icon and hover it over the map to make him transform into a flying saucer.

11. SHARE YOUR LOCATION WITH FRIENDS

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If you’re meeting a friend, this feature makes it easy for them to track you down. Open Google Maps on iOS or Android and pull up the options menu (located in the top left corner) and select “Location sharing.” From here you can decide how long to reveal your location and who to share it with.

12. MAKE A LIST OF YOUR FAVORITE SPOTS.

Google Maps makes it easy to store all your favorite restaurants (or parks or book stores) in one spot. Tap on a location and hit “Save.” Then, select “New list” and give it a name. Now, you can add new locations to your existing lists. You can also share lists with friends, and they’re even accessible when you’re offline.

13. CHECK OUT SKI ROUTES.

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Google Maps has information on almost 100 ski routes from across the United States and Canada. Head to this webpage to start planning your next ski trip.

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Chefs Launch World's Highest Pop-Up Restaurant at Mt. Everest Base Camp
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A touch of altitude sickness shouldn't stand in the way of a good meal. At least that seems to be the idea behind a plan to serve a seven-course dinner to trekkers at Everest Base Camp, the gateway for those planning to climb Mt. Everest in Nepal.

The four chefs leading this trip hope it will land them a new Guinness World Record for the highest pop-up restaurant on the planet, according to Architectural Digest. At the end of May, the chefs will take 10 people on an eight-day trek from the town of Lukla (at an altitude of about 10,000 feet) to Everest Base Camp (at 11,600 feet), all while foraging along the way for ingredients that can be incorporated into the meal. (For a true luxury experience, guests also have the option of traveling by helicopter.) The full package of flights, accommodations, and meals costs about $5600 per person.

After reaching their destination, trekkers will get to sit back and enjoy a feast, which will be served inside a tent to protect diners against the harsh Himalayan winds. Indian chef Sanjay Thakur and others on his team say they want to highlight the importance of sustainability, and the money they raise will be donated to local charities. Thakur said most of the food will be cooked sous vide, which allows vacuum-packed food to be cooked in water over a long period of time.

"The biggest challenge, of course, will be the altitude, which will affect everything," Thakur tells Fine Dining Lovers. "Flavor [perception] will be decreased, so we will be designing a menu of extraordinary dishes accordingly, where spices will have the upper hand."

This isn't the first time an elaborate meal will be served at Everest Base Camp, though. According to Fine Dining Lovers, another chef launched a pop-up at the same spot in 2016, but it presumably wasn't registered with the Guinness Book of World Records. Other extreme restaurants include one carved into a limestone cliff in China, one dangling 16 feet above the ground in a rainforest in Thailand, and one submerged 16 feet below sea level in the Maldives.

[h/t Architectural Digest]

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