United States Atomic Energy Commission
Fry Canyon Lodge

Historic Fry Canyon and Fry Canyon Lodge

Fry Canyon Lodge is isolated, the only building for the entire length of Scenic Byway 95.  It is 71 miles southeast of Hanksville, 51 miles west of Blanding, and 24 miles (including the 1½ miles down Hite Road) from tiny Hite, Utah, which sits on the bank of the Colorado River and Lake Powell (at normal lake levels) inside Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

The infamy of Fry Canyon dates back to the 1950s when the AEC opened an uranium mine in Fry Canyon without telling the miners of the radiation to which they would be exposed and from which they might die (they did).  Fry Canyon Lodge opened in 1955 and was a bustling, rowdy business in those days, but closed after the mines shut down, and the lodge fell into decay.

Fry Canyon Lodge history after the mining bust is a bit sketchy, but we know it was restored by new owners and open in 2001 from an article titled "The Motel at the End of the Universe" at  globeSouthwest Aviator.  Restored again in 2005 by new owners, it was open mid-March through October.  It was not terribly expensive ($100-125 including dinner and breakfast).  The Lodge generated its own utilities, with a satellite phone for emergencies - public utilities including cellular are not available in the area.  It sounds like the perfect place to get away from everything.

The Lodge was closed on our trip in September, 2012, looking as if it had been closed for some time.  We know it was open in July 2004 from this photo.  I do not know if the Lodge was open when I passed by it in 2008 (date of some of the Scenic Byway 95 photos).  It must have been open in 2008 - I remember thinking about making a reservation at the Lodge, but did not, electing to spend the night in Blanding before heading west on SB95.  I do not understand why I must have been in such a hurry when I drove by that I did not notice - I have always been interested in that outpost in the middle of nowhere (perhaps even more remote, now that Upper Lake Powell has dried up and Hite Marina is closed).

Nearby Hite Marina has been open only one season (2012) in the last decade as a result of the continuing drought - 20 years and counting.  Perhaps that is a reason the Lodge closed, perhaps the USGS water purifying process of the uranium mine tailings failed?  Whatever the cause, a unique and intriguing historical enterprise is out of business.