Kent Frost – Moab’s original Jeep tour guide

The Moab Museum strives to share history from Southeast Utah and the broader Colorado Plateau by identifying and curating stories, both new and old. This week, our volunteer staff dive into the life and legacy of one of Moab’s institutional figures: Kent Frost. Find more information about historic Moab figures in our Oral Histories and People Profiles

June 17 1971 Kent Frost autographing a copy of his book “My Canyonlands” The San Juan Record.

Kent Smith Frost was born in Snowflake, Arizona, in 1917 to parents Clarence Alford and Seraphina Smith Frost. Shortly thereafter, in the 1920s, the family moved from Arizona to their new homestead, Dodge Point, ten miles south of Monticello, Utah. At an early age, Frost began to explore the vast land of Southern Utah by walking, hiking, and climbing deep into the backcountry, driven by an immense curiosity and love for the land. He explored miles of unmapped country taking to the many trails of the early cowboys and the people who came before, often setting out for weeks at a time. In 1938, Frost first encountered Norman Nevills, the operator of Lee’s Ferry, and began working as a boatman for many years, becoming an experienced river runner. Frost has since been recognized for his contributions to river running history and the community by numerous organizations. 

Together with his wife, Fern Binns, whom he met and married in 1948, Frost opened Kent Frost Canyonlands Jeep Tour Company in 1953. Theirs was the first jeeping tour company to guide guests into all three districts of Canyonlands National Park (Island in the Sky, the Needles, and the Maze), as well as all across the landscape of San Juan and Grand counties. Their legacy spanned over 30 years, laying the groundwork for future generations. 

From his first year of guiding until the establishment of Canyonlands National Park in September 1964, Frost led 138 trips and 593 people into the Canyonlands basin. While he remained an advocate for the preservation of the land, Frost’s role in bringing the Canyonlands region into public awareness, and popularity, should not be underestimated.

Even after he stopped guiding, Frost  remained focused on the landscape he had learned so well, delivering lectures at Edge of the Cedars State Park. He turned to personal recollections and taught the community about his interactions and adventures with the land and people in this remote corner of the Southwest. Frost recorded his loving accounts of exploration deep into canyon country in his book My Canyonlands (1971). 

“I was fortunate to live a frontier life in modern times.” – Kent Frost.

Frost died on May 16, 2013, and was buried in Monticello, Utah, next to his wife Fern, surrounded by the canyon country he loved so dearly.

The Moab Museum is dedicated to sharing stories of the natural and human history of the Moab area. To explore more of Moab’s stories and artifacts, find out about upcoming programs, and become a member, visit www.moabmuseum.org.


This article was originally published in the Moab Sun News’ Moab History Column, written weekly by Museum staff.