Explore a flooded ghost town created by the costliest landslide in US history.

Thistle, Utah was a small community located in Spanish Fork Canyon, founded in 1883. It flourished for a time as a ranching community and eventually became a major stop on the rail line that ran through it. This all changed in 1983 when a massive landslide dammed the Spanish Fork River and flooded the town. Now there are only a few structures remaining, and most can be seen from the road. Most notable are a red school house, a church on a hill, and a house half sunken in a bog.

From Salt Lake: Travel on I-15 towards the town of Spanish Fork. Take exit 261 and head east on U.S. Route 6/89. To view the landslide from the downstream side, turn right onto Spanish Fork River Park road after approximately 11 miles; otherwise, continue approximately 12.7 miles (from I-15) and turn right into the large pullout immediately before a massive double road cut. This pullout provides an excellent overview of the area. Approximately 1.5 miles past the pullout, turn right onto U.S. Route 89 and travel approximately 1.5 miles to the ruins of the town of Thistle. You can find it with these coordinates: 39.990477,-111.498388. 

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Water shoes
  • Dry Bag
  • Kayak or Canoe (if you want a closer look at the sunken buildings)
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Activities Chillin, Photography
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Features
Groups
River
Scenic

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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