I said I wanted peace, quiet, and serenity. Did I ever find it in Antimony, Utah.
The population of this tiny town is just over 100 residents, and the cows and sheep far outnumber the people. The area is mainly vast ranch land nestled at the foot of Table Mountain. It’s also a popular destination for RVs and ATVs, especially at nearby Otter Creek State Park.
Antimony is a place where you can go offline without going totally off the grid. There is no cell phone reception to speak of within a 30-minute drive of Antimony. Other than the Antimony Mercantile (the only place for a distance to get wifi if you need it, and a bite to eat while you’re at it), few businesses exist beyond convenience stores for travelers. The U.S. Post Office is open only a few hours per week.
I stayed in a literal tin can. This AirBNB is an old granary silo that stored grain for livestock converted into a quaint, cozy little cabin with panoramic views from the porch, a clawfoot tub to soak in, and an adorable loft bed up top. It was a great home base for my Bryce Canyon and Capital Reef national park visits, about an hour’s drive from the cabin. It was a wonderfully cozy place to curl up in the evening with a book in my sweats after watching the sun set behind the mountains from the porch.
In the evenings, I would trek around the pastures to practice and experiment with my photography. For that, I was treated to some of the most incredible changing colors of the sunset I have ever seen.
When the sun first begins to set and cast shadows on the plateaus, the blue sky begins to transform into subtle and smooth shades of blue-green. The shadows make the hilly curves look soft and voluptuous while making the cliff edges show their texture and depth.
The sun sinks further, and the entire scape – the hills, the roads, the grasses, the mountains – takes on a cool, blue tint
Turn the opposite direction to look over the pasture toward Table Mountain and you get yellows, browns and greens on the ground juxtaposed against purples, pinks and blues where the sun is dipping lower. It’s peacefully meditative.
Capturing this image of the black silhouette of the mountain ridge in the foreground, with the goldenrod to violet sky, made my heart leap. I am so proud of this image – it is virtually untouched out of the camera!
The sunsets over the volcanoes in Santorini, Greece were incredible – but the deep, rich purples and saturated oranges of a sunset over unassuming Antimony, Utah homestead was simply mind-blowing. I have never seen sky shades of violet like this before.
I had no itinerary, so I choose to swap a national park day with a rest day. By chance, as I was walking out of the Antimony Mercantile that afternoon, I found myself in the middle of a massive, miles-long flock of sheep being driven from one pasture to another in Antimony, Utah.
Imagine my surprise as I saw hundreds upon hundreds of sheep pouring around the curve! They forced the few cars on the road to stop and wait for a break in the flock. But I was far from inconvenienced – I loved every second of it! I could have watched and listened to the sheep for hours and hours.
I was smiling from ear to ear. The serendipity of the occasion. The creative inspiration of the subject. The silly bleating and baaing. The occasional absurd sound an individual sheep would project above the flock that sounded like an underwhelmed and overweight middle-aged human man.
They passed by the tiny neighborhood, the few local businesses dotting the main drag, and directly in front of my cabin.
With cowboys on horseback and sheepdogs happy to be hard at work herding, the pasture move lasted hours on just this stretch of small-town road – and I had a front-row seat.
I lobbed a few questions at one of the passing cowboys. Why were they moving them? How far were they going? Turns out this trek is a dawn to dusk endeavor. I am astounded by their energy and focus.
For almost 10,000 years, humans have herded livestock like sheep and goats. This round-up and move is an incredible feat. Every single body has to work in total unison to make it possible. The cowboys had a whole language of clicks and yells and whistles to keep the flock together and moving.
The sheepdogs seemed to intuitively know exactly where to be and what to do as they brought up the rear of a group of sheep, before turning around to back to the first pasture and gather the next batch. They were laser-focused, trotting along with their skittish flock, stopping briefly to take stock, and then continuing on. They were completely in their element.
Every so often, and ewe and her lamb would stop suddenly in the middle of the volumes of sheep running around them. The lamb would drop to its knees and begin to nurse for a few short moments. Then as quickly as they stopped, they fell back in line with the moving flock.
After it ended, I drove the course of the sheep from beginning to the endpoint where I found them grazing in the mountains, and the herding dogs in a trailer, ready to call it a day. I clocked the migration at 10 miles.
This up-close-and-personal encounter with a pasture move of thousands of sheep was my favorite moment in Antimony. It entrancingly captured the heart and soul of this charming spot of small-town America.