If you needed to get a message to someone fast in 1860, you used the Pony Express! The Pony Express National Historic Trail was a cross-country route used by young men on horses or mules to carry the nation’s priority mail from Missouri to California from 1860 to 1861. The horse-and-rider mail system was the United States’ most direct and practical means of east-west communication for a short period before completion of the transcontinental telegraph, delivering letters in the unprecedented time of only ten days! In many ways, the Pony Express was the overnight priority mail of its day; however, it never made a profit and went bankrupt by the end.
150 years later, visitors can closely follow the historic route of the Pony Express across Utah’s west desert on a maintained BLM National Back Country Byway gravel road, stopping at various station sites and interpretive displays along the way and experiencing a landscape that is virtually unchanged from the days of the Pony Express rider. There is also a BLM campground located at the Simpson Springs with twenty sites open year-round for $15 per night.
Visitors should bring a high clearance vehicle and at least one spare tire. This location is remote and rugged with limited cell phone coverage. Know your route and let someone know your trip itinerary. Routes may become impassable due to weather. Bring extra clothing, shelter, food, water, sunscreen, first aid, and any other safety equipment needed for a remote driving tour. Visit go.usa.gov/xsTUP for additional information.
Learn more about the Pony Express Trail through an interactive story map.
Know Before you go: BLM Pony Express Web Page