The Outlaw Trail Outlaws always needed a sanctuary.

outlaw trail true west magazine

The so-called Outlaw Trail was a 1,500-mile stretch of untamed country running Canada to New Mexico and Butch Cassidy knew the way like the back of his hand. There were no warrants out for him in a number of states, including New Mexico and one of his favorite hideaways was Alma, a small town in the Mogollon Mountains near the Arizona border. It was a Mormon community, so Butch fit in quite well as long as he behaved.

The favorite sanctuaries for the Wild Bunch were the Hole in the Wall, in central Wyoming, and Brown’s Park in northeast Utah, near the Wyoming and Colorado borders. The third was Robber’s Roost in Utah. The wild country served the outlaws well. Hole in the Wall wasn’t really a hole, but a narrow path along a cliff. The entrance could be guarded and riders could be seen approaching from a great distance. And it was easily defendable. The men holed up there at Butch’s Blue Creek Ranch.

outlaw trail true west magazine

Brown’s Park was also a former mountain man retreat where they could wait out the winter. During the 1820’s, fur trappers looked for a place to “hole up,” a place that was well-watered, sheltered from severe storms, and had plenty of game. For the outlaw’s advantage, it provided a quick escape into Colorado or Wyoming if a posse approached.

Robber’s Roost was Butch’s fall-back retreat in Utah. All these places were formidable natural fortresses and few lawmen attempted to penetrate them. And it was easily defendable. The locals were friendly and most had no love for railroads or banks.

Outlaws always needed a sanctuary. Commit the crimes elsewhere and have a safe sanctuary to hole up…

I saw comparison photos of Etta Place and Ann Bassett, and they look identical to me. Was Ann Etta?

What do you think?

Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and the Wild West History Association’s vice president. His latest book is 2018’s Arizona Oddities: A Land of Anomalies and Tamales. Send your question, with your city/state of residence, to or Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327.