Most of the time it is out of sight and out of mind.
But Nine Mile Canyon is very real, and the world now knows about it more than ever. It is no longer a local attraction, an oddity that locals show to "out of towners" when they feel like it.
High amounts of publicity and national notoriety have changed the way things used to be. It's hard not to go up the canyon any time of year and not find out of state and even out of country license plates on vehicles touring the area.
And there is only going to be more of it.
Combine that increase in tourism with more traffic that is being generated by the gas companies doing exploration and production work around the area and timber trucks heading down from the high country and only one thing can result if the road in the canyon isn't improved. Disaster.
While most of the accidents in the canyon have not injured anyone, the road as it is is an accident not waiting to happen, but bound to happen.
There are many places on the road where blind curves and narrow driving room can and do create problems. Add to that places where the dust makes it almost impossible to see during certain times of the year.
There is also a problem with having to stop or wanting to stop. It seems some of the most popular places to look at rock art in the canyon can also be the most dangerous. Canyon aficionados all have stories about driving down the road in the canyon and coming across an SUV stopped in the middle of the road, all the doors open and the people from it standing on the shoulder looking at something they found interesting. Pull outs and wide shoulders where someone can pull over or change a tire are not as numerous as they should be.
There are many people in the area that have fond memories of going up the canyon as kids with friends or relatives and some of those would like things to remain as they have been. Others would like to see a paved two lane road all the way from Wellington to Myton, with complete access to all the side roads and rock art sites.
The answer, realistically, aesthetically and financially is somewhere in-between those two things. To not do anything to the road will only cause more damage to the canyon, infuriate those who own property there and probably result in some injuries and deaths due to accidents. A totally paved highway would not only cost something in the neighborhood of $50 million, but depending on the design could also turn it into a speedway for traffic between Vernal, Roosevelt and points south.
Presently plans are proceeding to come up with a combination aerial and ground survey. Once that is accomplished those involved in planning for improvements are looking toward getting some federal money to improve the road bases in many places, some of the curves and to provide more turnouts and possibly a lot more areas with a right of way for shoulders.
With the opening of the Cold Springs Road which will provide a loop for vehicles to travel from East Carbon through to Nine Mile and back to Wellington, traffic will increase more. But that also brings an opportunity to improve the areas economic base through increased tourism.
Citizens need to do everything they can to support private groups and county officials in working toward improving the road for sure to come future groups of people that will want to visit it.
Those who want to turn back the clock are barking up a tree that doesn't exist. The wide world of Carbon County genie is out of the bottle and it will never be put back.