Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Shady Dell's Fairy Forest

One of the tasks we expect as camp hosts is painting picnic tables.  The color we expect is, of course, Forest Service Brown.  So what’s with all the multi-colored picnic tables here in Shady Dell?  The answer lies across the creek and deep into the woods behind the campground where you will find the Fairy Forest. 

The Fairy Forest actually started in the late 60’s as a Vietnam veteran’s memorial to his fallen comrade.  As the years passed, many families or groups visited and added to the forest, eventually morphing it into a miniature world of painted rocks dotted with plaques, trinkets, and even fairy dolls. 
I am amazed by the creativity of the people who have contributed over the years.  This year’s new theme appears to be Frozen.  There are a couple of congregations of Despicable Me’s minions.  And I found my personal favorite, Star Wars.
The trail sits between sites 6 and 8, and is pretty well marked once you get across the creek bed.  This proved a little tricky during late May and early June, when spring runoff turned the creek into a raging river.  It’s much safer midsummer through fall.  You go straight back from the path until you come to the fallen tree marked with an arrow pointing to the fairy forest.
There is no charge to visit the Fairy Forest; but there is a charge for parking.  You have two options:
1.  Purchase a Mirror Lake Highway Recreation Pass for $6, park outside the campground – there’s a pullout at milepost 17 – and walk in.  The path from the pullout leads directly to the path to the Fairy Forest.  This is your best option if the Fairy Forest is just one stop along your Mirror Lake Highway adventure and you plan to stop at a picnic area, fish at one of the lakes, or hike at one of the trailheads.
2.  Park inside the campground and pay the $8 day use fee.  Parking inside the campground gives you a picnic table and fire pit, so if you’re planning on spending the day and having a picnic, this might be your best option.  Of course, I work at Shady Dell, so I might be a bit biased.  Remember – the Mirror Lake Highway Recreation Pass is not required in the campground, so you don’t need to pay double fees.
On my way across the creek bed on July 4, I met Michelle P., who runs the web site enjoyutah.org.  She knew Natalie O., on whose web site utahsadventurefamily.com  I first found posted information on the Fairy Forest.  The miniature world behind our campground proved once again what a small world we live in.


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