Bike, bus tours to traverse trail

If you want to traverse the Mormon Pioneer Trail this sesquicentennial year - but wagons, horses and handcarts are not your style - a bus tour or bicycle trek might be more to your liking.

Two organizations not affiliated with the Church are planning separate treks from Nauvoo, Ill., to Salt Lake City this summer, one by chartered coach and the other by bicycle.In addition, "The Mormon Trail Wagon Train - 150 Years," is continuing to accept reservations.

Here is brief information on each of the three tours:

The Sons of Utah Pioneers, a long-standing national service organization dedicated to perpetuating the memory of Utah's early settlers, is sponsoring a motorized trek commencing in Nauvoo July 12 and concluding July 22 in Salt Lake City.

Participation has been opened to the public, not just organization members, but the Jan. 31 application deadline is approaching quickly, and seating is limited, trek chairman William H. Child said. Contact the Sons of Utah Pioneers, 3301 E. 2920 South, Salt Lake City, telephone (801) 484-4441.

Elliott Cameron, national president, said participants will fly from Salt Lake City to St. Louis, Mo., July 12, then take a bus to Nauvoo, Ill., the following day. They will attend Church services in Nauvoo on Sunday, July 13, and embark by bus July 14, traversing the trail. An in-bus lecture will be given by Dr. LaMar Barrett of BYU.

"We will stop at selected historical sites, staying in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area on the evening of the 14th," Brother Cameron said. Other stopping points will be Grand Island, Neb., July 16; Scotts Bluff, July 17; Casper, Wyo., July 18; Lander, July 19; Rock Springs, July 20; and Evanston, July 21. The tour will arrive at This Is the Place State Park in Salt Lake City on the afternoon of July 22.

Cost of the tour, including transportation, lodging and meals, is $1,400, with $100 to be submitted with the application.

"Every person who goes along will be invited to join the Sons of Utah Pioneers and will receive a year's subscription to our Pioneer magazine," Brother Cameron said. The organization has discontinued a requirement that its members be descendents of people who came to Utah Territory before the coming of the railroad in 1869. Now, anyone can join, Brother Cameron said.

The tour is reminiscent of a motorized tour taken 50 years ago by the organization along the Mormon Trail to commemorate the centennial of the Pioneers' trek. On that occasion, it was done by a caravan of 72 automobiles, each with a covered wagon facade.

Bicyclists can join the Mormon Trail Bicycle Tour, which leaves Nauvoo June 13 and arrives in Salt Lake City July 7, pedaling 1,750 miles in 25 days.

Sponsored by Historical Trails Network (not a Church organization), the bike tour is limited to 35 riders and costs $1,595.

Organizer Tom Armstrong said the riders will camp in city parks and gymnasiums and be treated to dinner and breakfast by local church and community organizations, with entertainment from folk singers and local historians. Support vehicles will transport luggage, offer assistance to riders and give a lift whenever needed.

"The cyclists will be traveling in slower fashion than today's automobile, allowing them the opportunity to experience the beautiful scenery, the unpredictable weather and share in the history along this remarkable trail," the organizer said.

Contact Historical Trails Network, P.O. Box 81614, Lincoln, Neb., 68501-1614, telephone (402) 477-9968, Internet address

"The Mormon Trail Wagon Train - 150 Years" leaves Winter Quarters April 21 and arrives at This Is the Place State Park in Salt Lake City July 22. Participants can take part in a number of ways, including bringing their own team and wagon; riding a horse with a saddlehorse company or as an outrider attached to a team and wagon; riding a wagon as a "day rider"; or walking and pulling a handcart in the handcart company. Costs vary depending on how one participates and whether one joins the trek for a day, a week, a month or the entire trip.

An article on and a tentative schedule for the wagon train trek were in the Nov. 16 Church News.

The wagon train is not sponsored by the Church, but Church members are helping to support and organize it.

To receive an information packet with a reservation form, call 1-800-552-6191.

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