Learning Landscapes
Print Page
Pony Express National Historic Trail
Scenic Drives > Pony Express National Historic Trail (UT) 
The eastern terminus of the trail is located at Stagecoach Inn State Park in Fairfield, Utah, 55 miles southwest of downtown Salt Lake City. The western terminus of the trail is located at Ibapah, Utah, 60 miles south of Wendover, Nevada.
A trip down the Pony Express Trail is a celebration of the beautiful desert through which the route winds. It is an opportunity to enjoy and explore the romance, vastness, history, and solitude of America’s outback. From Fairfield to Ibapah, the legendary road snakes south and west across the Bonneville Basin of west-central Utah. Fourteen station sites, markers, or ruins are spaced every 6–13 miles along the trail, which crosses broad valleys and mountain passes, and links small, isolated settlements. The first 5 miles are asphalt, as are the last 2, but in between lie 126 miles of what the pioneers called “Piute Hell.” The trail crosses 2 million acres of topographical extremes including alpine forests and desert hot springs. The exact routes taken by the Pony Express riders are unknown; the trail shifted frequently with changes in weather, schedule, or the rider’s whim.
To reach Fairfield from Salt Lake City, travel south on Interstate 15 approximately 30 miles to Lehi. Get off at exit 282 (Lehi), and proceed west on State Highway 73 (Lehi’s main thoroughfare). Continue 5 miles west through Lehi to the junction of State Highways 68 and 73, then approximately 20 more miles west on State Highway 73 to Fairfield and the Stagecoach Inn State Park. The Pony Express Trail kiosk is located in the southwestern corner of the park grounds. To get to the trail’s eastern terminus, continue west from Fairfield another 5 miles to the Five Mile Pass turnoff and the start of the Pony Express Trail dirt road. A large sign points the way west toward Nevada.
Visitor Activities
Scenic drives, biking, hiking, and historic site.
Special Features
Historic markers dot the Pony Express Trail. Wild horses (during certain seasons) may be viewed in the Government Creek area, just east of Simpson Springs campground. There are many sites of interest along the trail. At Stagecoach Inn State Park in Fairfield, open from Easter–October, the original adobe inn structure is still standing. Camp Floyd, established in 1858, is adjacent to Stagecoach Inn. This historic military installation once housed 3,000 troops. Simpson Springs Station is a restored structure closely resembling the original (circa 1860) station that was located on that site.
Permits, Fees, Limitations
Three wheelchair-accessible vault toilets are located at the Simpson Springs Campground.
Camping and Lodging
The Simpson Springs Campground, 44.5 miles west of Fairfield, is the only developed campground along the trail. There is a per-vehicle, per-night fee. Dispersed, primitive camping is permitted on BLM lands along the trail. Contact BLM for details. There is no charge for picnicking or for day use at the campground. There are motels along Interstate 15, within 20 miles of Fairfield. There are no motels at the western terminus (Ibapah). The closest motels to that terminus are in Wendover, Nevada, 60 miles north.
Food and Supplies
Food and supplies are available at either end of the Pony Express Trail, in Lehi and in Wendover. Along the trail, gas and snacks are available at Vernon, 5 miles south of the intersection of the Pony Express Trail with State Highway 36, and occasionally in Ibapah. Travelers are encouraged to be prepared for a long drive with no services between Vernon and Wendover.
First Aid
There is no first aid facility between Lehi and Wendover. Hospitals are located in Tooele, 35 miles north of Vernon, and approximately 110 miles east of Wendover; in Salt Lake City; and in American Fork, 1 mile north of Lehi. There is also a medical clinic in Wendover.
Additional Information
There is no staff, but the Simpson Springs Campground is open year-round—it is the only campground on the Pony Express Trail. A portion of the Pony Express Historic Trail is paved; however, the greater length of the route is graded or graveled dirt road until pavement is reached again at Ibapah. The desert environment can be harsh. Extreme summer and winter weather is possible, with summer temperatures in excess of 100°F. Dry lightning storms are common during the summer in the western desert. Winter weather is often extremely cold, with snow and ice common. Spring and fall are typically more moderate. Visitors should plan ahead and be prepared. Road conditions vary with the weather, and the road surface may be muddy and unstable in wet weather. Travelers are advised to carry adequate fuel, water, food, two spare tires (if possible), and other supplies for the entire trip. There is no place along the trail where a visitor can have a tire repaired. Visitors are also encouraged to carry at least a Utah State Highway Map. Those planning to camp on BLM-managed lands at undeveloped locations along the trail should have BLM 1:100,000-scale maps showing land ownership.
Contact Information
BLM - Salt Lake Field Office
2370 South 2300 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84119
Tel: (801) 977-4300               

Pony Express Trail Webpage

Pony Express National Trail Map

Pony Express National Historic Trail: Simpson Springs Station Photo

The restored structure of Simpson Springs Station, named for 1858 mail-route explorer Captain J.H. Simpson, is still considered a dependable desert watering hole on the historic Pony Express Trail.   (Jerry Sintz, BLM Utah State Office (retired))

Last updated: 10-23-2009