If you ask 20 people in Salt Lake City or St. George how to get from one city to the other, the vast majority of them will look at you with a confused look and then tell you to just take I-15 like every sign tells you. After all, that is the most obvious route to take, what other option is there?
Well, if you want to check out Escalante Mercantile & Natural Grocery and drive past some of Utah's craziest landscapes on the way, there's the route we took. Starting in Salt Lake City, we did the obvious thing and took I-15 South - easy enough - exited to take the US-50, took that for a bit to UT-24 East (which includes very brief sections on the UT-260, and UT-72 as well), stopped for a snack at Koosharem Reservoir (where there appeared to be some nice dispersed camping, but we had miles to go), then finally headed onto the UT-12 West which delivered us to Escalante and 'The Merc' we'd been searching for. It only took... well let's not say how many hours but it was a lot.
The landscapes surrounding Escalante are wild and varied, with massive rock formations of all shapes and colors, lakes and rivers popping up where you'd least expect them, and one of the coolest and most unique retailers we've found on our tour so far.
Escalante Mercantile & Natural Grocery is an absolute gem, located in the heart of the tiny town of Escalante, which is seriously far from any sort of 'major human development'. The building, a beautifully refurnished old wooden house that still has all the charm and coziness of a mountain home, is right off the main strip and is next to the town's Post Office. It's packed with natural body care, eco-friendly home goods, health food products refrigerated, frozen, canned, and fresh, and various other goodies you'll be happy to find.
They've got a patio with plenty of seating to eat some of their prepared foods (which include fresh bread and other scrumptious baked goods made in house daily) or local produce on - though they're nice enough that they probably wouldn't mind if you brought your own lunch and just picked up a kombucha or two instead. We scored some local, organic cherries for only $2.50 a pound - unbelievable!
If you keep on the UT-12 West past Escalante, you'll run right through Bryce Canyon. Even if you don't really have time to give it the attention it deserves, at least pull off at the Mossy Cave hike and mosey on over to the creek for a minute. It's less than a minute's walk from the parking lot, and it's unbelievably gorgeous.
Soon after Bryce you'll hit the US-89 South, which we then took to the UT-9 West. The UT-9 West goes right through Zion National Park, which if you don't have time to stop there is painfully gorgeous and tantalizing, especially knowing you're only glimpsing a minuscule fraction of the park's enormity. We got tipped off to an unsuspecting little Thai restaurant, Thai Sapa, on the Western perimeter of the park that uses organic and local ingredients in much of their menu, and stopped there for lunch. As an added bonus, their patio looks out on some beautiful cliffs, so even if you have to skip Zion you can get a small taste of it's beauty while you eat some delicious partially organic Thai food there.
From then on the trip is simple. Just follow the signs towards St. George and you'll reconnect to the I-15 and be on your way. Once you've made it to St. George, you'll probably be ready for some more organic awesomeness, in which case you'll be pleased to find not only the St. George location of Real Foods Market, but also Dixie Nutrition. We told you about Real Foods Market in our last post, so we'll spare the details, but their St. George location has all the same essentials, just pared down quite a bit as the space is much smaller.
Dixie Nutrition is a Southwest Utah staple, having been the region's primary health food, nutrition, and natural body care resource for over 60 years! They've got unbelievable prices on their organic, cold-pressed juices, as well as their produce. If they have any local produce when you're there make sure to get a lot because it's amazing and it goes fast. We picked up a couple of apricots there which turned out to be the absolute best apricots we've ever tasted, but when we went back to pick up more they'd all been snatched up!Though their main location is in St. George, you'll also see a smaller Dixie Nutrition location in Hurricane, UT, on the way up to Gooseberry Mesa, where there is dispersed camping on BLM land about 40 minutes from town. The road up there is a bit rough, so drive carefully, but if you make it out there the views are great (that's Zion in the distance) and the area is peaceful and quiet.
If you're following the travels of the Retailer Tour, know that these posts are a couple weeks delayed from where the road crew is currently located, so make sure to check out our list of retailers as it grows to see when Simply by Nature is available in your area! At the time of our writing this, you can find our truly natural, handcrafted, minimalist body care products at stores in Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, and of course Arizona.
Remember to email us with your favorite local resources for natural products. We love hearing from you!