Saturday, September 13, 2008

25-08 Utah, Monument Valley and much more

Devils Canyon Campground, Manti La Sal National Forest:

North of Blanding UT, this forest campground is not far off the main highway 191. I was surprised to see that the road was paved all the way into the campsites and each campsite was paved and had a concrete pad for the picnic table. Each site also has a raised concrete fire pit. Very nice looking. No water this time of year, it’s after Sept. 1st. Sites are $10 a night, no hookups.

Newspaper Rock
Wilson Arch
Westwater Ruins (Cliff dwellings)
Butler Wash (Cliff dwellings)
Natural Bridges National Monument
3 miles Graded Switchback (ekk!)
Muley Point
Gooseneck State Park
Valley of the Gods
Monument Valley, Navajo Tribal Park
Monticello Utah
Blanding Utah
Bluff Utah
Mexican Hat Utah

Yes, in less than 3 days, I visited all of the above sites. I’m pooped! Actually it’s all been very exhilarating. I haven’t even had time to take an afternoon siesta. What’s up with that. I’m not going to try and describe each place as it would just wear you out reading about each site, so I’ll just touch on a few highlights and let you look at some of the pictures I’ll post on my Picasa site.

From Monticello Utah (south east corner of Utah), I headed across the Manti-LaSal National Forest and descended into the Needles district. Canyon views from down in the canyon itself with a stop off at Newspaper Rock. It’s in Indian Creek Canyon and the wall contains numerous Petroglyphs. The brief description stated that they had no way of dating the Petroglyphs, but if you look at them, you’ll notice that some depict a man riding a horse. Since horses weren’t introduced into North American until after Columbus discovered American (again) we can assume that some of the Petroglyphs were created after 1500.

I had to get a couple good pictures of some natural Arches and since I’d already been to Moab a couple of years ago, I decided to explore a couple others in the area. Wilson Arch (possibly named after my friend Ken Wilson) Not that he’s that old….. And I also visited Natural Bridges National Monument. They have a couple huge natural bridges. I learned that a natural bridge is created when water does much of the erosion and that an arch is created solely by wind and sand carving and the freezing of ice in the cracks then thawing and that’s what makes an arch.

More photos at:

After visiting a few out of the way cliff dwellings, they’re everywhere out here, I descended off of a huge pinion pine and cedar treed mesa descending 3 miles of switch backs. If you like to get your adrenalin going this would do the trick. It was built by miners and is pretty much like it was 100 years ago. A red clay and gravel road hugging the vertical cliff. As slow as I was going down the 10% grade, I felt my truck slipping and sliding a couple of times. The only buffer was a small pile of sand on the edge of the cliff, made by the grader. Barely enough room for one vehicle, so passing someone was done very gingerly.

Muley Point, off of 281 was one of those side tours that one has to decide to take or leave behind. I’m so glad I took the side trip. The views of Glen Canyon Rec. area below were just stunning. Looking back at my Chevy truck sitting near the edge of the cliff, it looked just like those TV commercials selling Chevy trucks. Looking miles down into the canyon below, I could see a deserted dirt road winding it’s way along the bottom. The view as spectacular in it’s own right and easily as beautiful as the Grand Canyon.

More photo’s at:

Gooseneck State park, just a hop on down the road and I was able to see one of the most stunning river “meander” ever created by nature. The San Juan River created gooseneck before it merges with the Colorado river a bit downstream. One of my last stops on this part of my journey brought me to Monument Valley which is on Navajo Tribal Land. This is where so many movies have taken place. I paid the entrance fee and drove my own vehicle down to the bottom of the canyon along a bumpy rock and red clay and sand road. I felt like I was driving a 4-wheeler over boulders and washouts at times.

No fast driving here. Taking my time and stopping dozens of times to get out and take pictures and just enjoy the stillness and scenery. Wow! It was just overwhelming. Well worth the effort and time. I can see why the Navaho Indians consider this to be a scared place. A few Indian dwellings are right in the canyon, numerous open air gift shops selling Native American jewelry, pottery and blankets. One small Indian dwelling had their clothes out on a line to dry. Wild horses meandered by, only slightly spooked by our vehicles driving by.

Oh and while driving over to Monument Valley on hwy 163, all traffic was stopped as a camera crew was filming for a commercial. Didn’t know what the commercial was for, but the station wagon was topped with tons of summer toys, kayaks, surfboards, inflatable rafts etc. Very colorful, check it out in the pictures….

What adventures! I'm loving it!

1 comment:

Mexanese said...

we spent a lot of time out here before driving back to NC... it was magical. Did you happen to hit a crazy diner in Bluff... despite all the oddities they make a mean grilled cheese. ha ha. Its a beautiful place your pics are gorgeous!