Grizzly bear.

Grave of the Last Grizzly Bear in Utah

Field review by the editors.

Logan, Utah

Died 1923

Pet Cemetery.

Old Ephraim was last grizzly bear in Utah, and the curse of local sheepherders. After 10 years of tracking, Frank Clark finally blew the bear's brains out on August 22, 1923. At the time of his death, Old Ephraim stood 10 feet tall and weighed 1100 pounds. His skull was sent to The Smithsonian, where it has been preserved.

The rest of Ephraim is buried six miles up Temple Fork Road, high in the Wasatch Mountains north of Logan. A rock cairn grave, built by the Boy Scouts, marks the site.

Grizzlies disappeared from Utah because of a lack of habitat and the growing human population. However, a group calling itself the High Uintas Preservation Council wants to bring grizzly bears back to this part of the state, saying that the caution prompted by occasional grizzly attacks is a vital part of the wilderness experience.

Roadside America Admission: We Didn't Make It To Old Ephraim's Grave. Temple Fork Road is actually a thin layer of pulverized shale, spread across a number of steep ridges in a series of hairpin switchbacks. The shale, which is slippery even when it's dry, had been washed out on a number of the steeper grades, leaving two deep ruts which would have ripped away our exhaust system. We balanced the car with one set of tires on the middle mound and the other on either in the inner or outer edges, taking our choice of either sliding into a ravine or off the mountain. Adding to the fun were the large rocks that had been washed into the "road" from higher elevations. Temple Fork got progressively more narrow, steep, and impassable. It suddenly occurred to us that there hadn't been any place wide enough to turn around since we left the highway. At 4.5 miles, the road took a hairpin turn to the left and abruptly ascended a ledge of crumbling shale at about 35 degrees.

We stopped our rented car and took stock of the situation as the dust swirled around. If we made it up that ledge, we'd never make it back down. We could hike the rest of the way, but wouldn't make it back before nightfall. And we still had four more attractions to see that day. Was it worth risking the rest of the trip? Then we noticed a spot that allowed just enough room to make a tight K-turn and, recognizing a sign from God (this was, after all, Utah), turned around.

Ephraim, we shall return.

Visitor Tip on Old E: "Last I knew, Ol' Ephraim's skull was returned from the Smithsonian and is currently, (or at least it was 6 yrs. ago) on display in the Special Collections section of the Utah State University library in Logan, Utah. His grave is quite a bit harder to reach - you need a high-clearance vehicle, plenty of gas and a very detailed map/or gear to spend the night after you get lost. The grave itself sits in the bottom of a wash and is marked by a tall granite monument, as tall as the bear was. The remains of the bear were cremated after it was shot, and the skull was retrieved by a boy scout troop years later. If memory serves me correctly, that troop was lead by Ezra Taft Benson who later became Secretary of Agriculture under Pres. Eisenhower. Why he wanted to take a troop of scouts out to look for the skull is another mystery."

Also see: Behemoths | Roadside Pet Cemetery

Grave of the Last Grizzly Bear in Utah

Address:
Temple Fork Rd, Logan, UT
Directions:
Northeast of Logan on US 89 into the state forest, then right onto Temple Fork Rd. Extremely hazardous; do not attempt without an off-road vehicle and survival gear!
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

World's Largest Fishing FlyWorld's Largest Fishing Fly, Logan, UT - 16 mi.
Mounted Head of The DogMounted Head of The Dog, Huntsville, UT - 39 mi.
Largest Man-Tamed GeyserLargest Man-Tamed Geyser, Soda Springs, ID - 60 mi.
In the region:
Thiokol Rocket Garden, Promontory, UT - 47 mi.

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November 22, 2014

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