Near the junction of Interstate 15 and Interstate 70 in Utah (AKA the middle of nowhere) sits Cove Fort. This historic fort was a stopping place for frontier travelers from 1867 to about 1890. It is now a fun and educational rest stop for modern travelers.
Cove Fort is owned and maintained by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Retired couples serve as volunteer tour guides. The free tour begins with a short video presentation about the history of the fort and then guides lead visitors into the fort for a tour, which lasts about 20-30 minutes. Tours begin whenever visitors arrive.
Inside the fort, visitors get a picture of frontier life – storing and eating the food that was produced on-site, making clothing and household items from available materials, and sleeping on homemade mattresses. Despite the hard work required to live there, the fort looks like it was a friendly and comfortable place. The residents of Cove Fort never had trouble with the local Indian tribes, but thick walls provided protection from the elements and predators. I suspect that most modern visitors feel either nostalgia for a simpler time or gratitude for modern conveniences, or both.
After the tour, feel free to wander the grounds and visit the stable and the garden. Climb the stairs to the fort's upper level to see over the wall and get a different view of the fort. In the yard, climb up on a covered wagon for a photo op.
Just for kids
The guide who led our tour was a grandfatherly man who was patient with our squirrelly children. He directed a lot of the discussion toward them. After the tour, our children were each given a wooden disc, like a large button, with string looped through holes the center. The words “Cove Fort” were burned into the disc, making it a fun, free souvenir. This pioneer-era toy is a great car toy for school-age children. When you loop the string over your index fingers, wind it up, and then pull out gently, the spinning button is mesmerizing. It's even fun for adults.
In the yard outside the fort, sticks and hoops are available for families who would like to try another pioneer-era game.
We travel I-15 between Salt Lake City and Cedar City, Utah several times each year and Cove Fort is a fun place to stop when we have the time. If you've never been to Cove Fort, I recommend a visit next time you're in the area.
Good to know
Where: near the junction of I-70 and I-15 in Utah. Look for signs. Cove Fort is located less than two miles from either freeway.
When: Cove Fort is open year-round, weather permitting. The fort opens at 8:00 a.m. during warm weather months and 9:00 a.m. during the off-season. Close time is sunset.
How Long: About an hour
Amenities: Clean, modern bathrooms and picnic tables are available outside the fort. There is no food or fuel at Cove Fort.