Summer Adventure: Zaqistan

Approximately two and a half hours northwest of Ogden, the uninhabited and desolate land of Zaqistan lies in the dry belly of Utah’s Great Basin Region. You won’t find it on any map. Directions and GPS coordinates are closely guarded by the few adventurers that have made the voyage and crossed the borders, making it nearly impossible to find. Embarking on the mysterious trek to the two-square acre micro-nation takes great patience, a hunger for adventure, and careful planning. Luckily, I have friends that possess all of these skills in abundance.

A few weeks ago we took on the task of hunting down this land.

Our adventure took us down every dirt road east of Terrace Mountain and Terrace Ghost Town, Zaqistan’s nearest neighboring points-of-interest. Following vague directions and clues from previous visitors, scanning the horizon dozens of times, we nearly missed it.

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We began discussing our failure and the reality of planning a second trek. Two members of our party had to head back to Ogden empty-handed. The gas gauge began to dip. The thermostat hit 104°. There was very limited cell phone service and our hearts started to sink.

“I think I saw one more road that may not have even been a road. It’s worth a try,” Adam said.

“One more road,” we replied half-heartedly.

Nine hours and nearly 300 miles later, we entered the Republic of Zaqistan. Hot, dirty, and exhausted, we relished the victory. Fifteen minutes and a few photographs later, we headed home as the sun began to set behind us. So many hours and so much work for a only a few minutes inside the borders of Zaqistan. So worth it and every one of us would do it again.

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(Above photo taken by Shelly Thompson, my rad cousin)

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Artist Zaq Landsberg purchased the deed to the land in 1995, and declared it the Republic of Zaqistan later that same year. In the years since then, he and other citizens of Zaqistan have made a number of expeditions to the site and have erected a number of landmarks.

The Decennial Monument is the tallest structure currently on Zaqistan and the first site visitors see welcoming them to the micro-nation. Don’t be fooled by it’s size, though. As big as it is, it blends in and is impossible to see from a distance.

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The Zaqistan Port of Entry and ‘Welcome to Zaqistan’ sign usher visitors across the border.

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Mt. Insurmountable is the highest point in Zaqistan, featuring a 17-foot flag pole. Unfortunately for us, the flag is only flown whenever Zaqistani citizens are visiting the land. Had it been flying, it would have provided a useful beacon.

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Many times throughout the day we battled frustration and annoyance at how little information we were able to gather for our trek out to Zaqistan. We vowed to publish exact coordinates and directions, so any and all adventurers just like us would be able to find their way out there.

That being said, I want to offer my heartfelt apologies. After very thorough and extensive consideration, I don’t feel that I can do so. As an individual that relishes in exploring and sharing my adventures, I want nothing more than to help open doors for anyone that wants to see the places I have seen. However, the artist and owner of the Republic of Zaqistan, has purposefully chosen to not share exact directions to the site. Morally, I feel that I have to respect his wishes. After all, this is private land. It is also harsh and unforgiving terrain and could very easily turn into a dangerous expedition, if not properly respected and planned for.

If you are serious about wanting to visit, I suggest reaching out to Zaq via his website http://www.zaqart.com/zaqistan/zaqistan.html. You are also free to reach out to me directly via direct message on my Instagram, @trelys. I’m more than happy to discuss my experience in more depth and possibly trek out there again with you!

Also, if you do decide to adventure out there, here a few very useful suggestions and tips for you:

  1. Take plenty of gas. Although only 50 miles from the nearest gas station, you do not want to risk getting stranded.
  2. Take food and water. There is zero shade and zero water sources out there. It’s hot and you could very quickly get into a dangerous situation if you are not prepared.
  3. Caravan. We took three cars and I’m so glad we did. There are some rough roads and you do not want to have to hike out if you get in trouble.
  4. Take a 4-wheel drive, high-profile vehicle. Again, these roads are rough. They are also steep and not maintained.
  5. As with any adventure, let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back.
  6. Respect the land and the land owners. Zaqistan is on private land and you have to pass through private land to reach it. Please be respectful and don’t be that guy that ruins awesome things for everyone else.
  7. Again, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me before you go.

In all, I’d say visiting Zaqistan is for only the most responsible and serious adventurers. There really isn’t much to see out there. You have to exert a lot of energy and practice a ton of patience and the payoff isn’t what most people would consider very rewarding. However, if you enjoy a good scavenger hunt and don’t mind getting lost in the middle of nowhere, it’s really a pretty amazing experience!

Happy adventuring!

(All photos used courtesy of Adam Ritchie unless otherwise noted.)

I’m an Ogden native and I think this town is pretty rad. When I’m not adventuring with my offspring I can be found watching old VHS movies, hitting up the thrift store, or reading a book.