Photo credit: Old Wrangler (Ed) with his Nikon D90. Here is a link to Ed’s photo sets. Check out his Africa wildlife photographs, especially the National Geographic quality photos of the cheetahs:
I have visited Devil’s Garden twice before and both times the light for photographing was poor, so I what a great feeling it was to arrive with Ed, at the right time of the day, with excellent weather, and not one other person around.
We spent quite a bit of time here before heading on into the town of Escalante. Just too good to leave.
We had used Green River, Utah as a base camp for six nights, knowing we would have two "rough weather" days to get through. Now, Wednesday the 21st of March, we would be on the move and with good weather forecast. We had no set place planned to stay Wednesday night but had plenty of camping gear with us so we really didn’t give it a lot of thought.
The route for this day would take us: Green River to Hanksville via I-70 and highway 24. On the way to Hanksville we would make a brief stop at Temple Mountain (where much of the uranium for the Manhatten project came from) to show Ed the interesting pictographs I often stop at when in the area.
From Hanksvile we headed south on highway 95 and then we turned south on highway 276. This was a road I had never traveled, nor had Ed. The weather was excellent and both of us enjoyed stopping for all the photo ops as we traveled a road never before traveled by us.
We saw the parking lots full of big Lake Powell house boats, stored on dry land for the winter, near Ticaboo. All had slipper slides off the aft end and most looked like a sizeable investment to buy, maintain, store, and transport in and out of Lake Powell.
Between Ticaboo and Bullfrog, we made a sharp turn onto the Burr Trail Road. This too was a section of road neither of us had traveled. I had made the Boulder to Notom drive many times, both ways, but had never been on this southern portion. The landscape was spectacular. Two park rangers (we had cut across a small portion of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, stopped to chat with us as we took photographs. One had lived in Washington State so we compared common ground.
I noted the trailhead to Surprise Canyon on the way to the junction to where the Burr Trail makes its short spectacular winding course through the Waterpocket Fold, and your briefly pass through the neck of the southern portion of Capitol Reef National Park. I have never made that short hike but intend to do so. We chose not to stop for the hike on this day as we were hoping to perhaps makes Devils Garden in the Escalante area, for perfect early evening light, with the blue skies we were enjoying.
We made our way up the wiggles of the Burr Trail through the Waterpocket Fold and then took a short dead end drive to photograph peek-a-boo rock. Then on through picturesque Long Canyon to Boulder.
At Boulder, Utah (a tiny town), we stopped at an art outlet so I could aske about a flickr contact (an artist), who lives in the area. The nice lady there told us where he worked. We headed there. A fellow closing the door where Darren works, told us where to find him and we did. So I got to shake hands with and meet, yet another flickr friend. It is great to put a smile to a group of photographs.
Then on toward Escalante. We drove through Lower Calf Creek campground and thought hard about camping there for the night but by then both of us had got kind of spoiled having rooms with a hot shower each night, so we headed straight to Devil’s Garden off the Hole-in-the-rock road for a nice photo op session there.
Now figuring we would cross our fingers and hope that our friend Robert at the Circle "D" would have a couple of rooms for the night, we headed for town. Robert did have two rooms so we checked in, cleaned up, and headed to the Cowboy Blues for one of the best meals we had on the entire trip. Life is good.
Utah Road Trip March 2012
Oldmantravels & Old Wrangler
Last March, my friend Ed and I, with his new Jeep Wrangler, made a 4,000 looping road trip through the Four Corners area of the Southwest. We had a lot of fun on that trip so decided to do a different version in March of 2012.
We made plans that were highly flexible depending on the weather we would encounter and the condition of hiking trails and back country dirt "Jeep roads". We even had a "plan B" to head for Joshua Tree and Death Valley, if the Utah weather didn’t turned out like we hoped. In the end, we were able to enjoy each and every day of our road trip in the state of Utah and utilizing Green River, Utah as our primary "base camp".
Weather wasn’t always the best for photography but it was fun capturing the moment with photographs, both to share with others and of course to preserve the memory of the fun times had on a road trip. Below is a day by day general outline of where we traveled and what we did during this Utah Road Trip March 2012 (just in case you want to follow along):
DAY ONE [Wednesday – 14 March 2012]:
Ed left his house in Western Washington and picked me up in his Jeep Wrangler at my house in Eastern Washington. We then drove the interstate through rain and wind to Boise, Idaho.
DAY TWO [Thursday – 15 March 2012]:
We drove the most direct and quickest route from Boise, Idaho to Green River, Utah where we got rooms for three nights. We later added another three nights as the small quiet town of Green River turned out to be just right as a quiet base camp for our outdoor activities in the area.
DAY THREE [Friday – 16 March 2012]:
We headed out early down highway 24 through Hanksville, then over to Capitol Reef National Park. We forded a swollen Fremont River and took the scenic Cathedral Valley loop in clockwise direction, putting over 50 miles of fun miles on back country dirt roads, mostly within the boundary of Capitol Reef National Park.
We visited scenic overlooks like Jailhouse Rock and the various vista overlooks along the way. The stop at the Temple of the Sun and the Moon formations was well worth the time. We took a couple of short hikes to get better views of many of the areas along this scenic loop route.
Returning to highway 24 we drove west into the heart of Capitol Reef NP and made the short hike up to Hickman Bridge. Returning to the Jeep, we drove down to the visitors center and drove the "scenic road" which dead ends in Capitol Gorge. The late afternoon and then dusk light made for an excellent trip on this road.
DAY FOUR [Saturday – 17 March 2012]:
WE drove the "Eightmile Road" near La Sal Junction over to the Needles overlook and Anticline overlook road junction. Stopped at Looking Glass arch along the way (windy) and poked around a few of the "cowboy cave" structures, carved out of and/or built into the sandstone formations in the area.
We scratched our heads in bemusement when we spotted the Rockland Ranch, a man made "eye sore" on a large otherwise lovely sandstone formation known as Hatch Rock. The "cave houses" are painted mostly bright loud colors with an obvious attempt to "stand out" rather than "blend in".
I haven’t read the whole story yet but seems the government granted a 50 year lease to some "alternative life" folks, and so Hatch Rock is "their" home for now. The lease is for $6,500 a year and the "homes" have been blasted into the side of Hatch Rock. The founder, Bob Foster (with three or four wives and 38 children passed away in 2008 at age 82, of cancer).
The drive out to Anticline overlook was a pretty drive as we checked out the Hatch Point campground along the way and enjoyed the views offered by the loop around the rock formation at the Dave Minor overlook.
From the Anticline overlook you can see forever, including a Jeep trail following the near bench far below. I would find out later that that winding dirt road can be taken all the way from Moab to the Needles portion of Canyonlands National Park (and all day endeavor).
The Colorado River is seen from this viewpoint as are the large potash ponds and the waterways that drain from them to the Colorado River below. In all it seems a bit too much "man made" intrusion on the landscape to completely enjoy the fabulous view.
After Anticline we returned to the Needles Overlook which we both agreed would be a wonderful place to catch a sunrise (so we agreed to return to it if we caught some good weather later on).
After the Needles Overlook we returned to the highway and made out way into the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park (highway 211). We made the mandatory stop at Newspaper Rock then drove out to the visitors center and talked with the rangers there (two nice knowledgeable and helpful, lady rangers).
We took the Jeep to the end of the "good" dirt road past the camping areas, but didn’t even think of trying the challenging Elephant Hill section of Jeep road. We saw lots of mule deer, rock climbers , and spectacular rock forms on our way back to highway 191.
DAY FIVE [Sunday – 18 March 2012]:
Sunday and Monday were forecast to be the "rough weather days" in the area and throughout much of the west, so we set our sights on places to visit that we would enjoy no matter the weather (and keep mostly on paved roads should it rain too much).
So we braved wind and rain to visit Sego Canyon then took the quiet yet scenic highway 128 from Cisco down to Moab. We stopped at the Fisher Towers trailhead along the way where it was raining pretty good by then. The only sheltered place for photo ops of the mist shrouded towers was the portico of the trailhead outhouse (looked silly but worked well – HA).
Returning to Green River, Utah we were pleased to find the John Wesley Powell "River Runners" museum open. A short film feature we watched there was exceptionally well done (A Seattle film company produced it).
I have read many of the books about the early river runners and it was a great place to look at the old boats and photographs and get a sense of the risky and exciting life many of those folks lived (Read the books: The Doing of the Thing; Sunk Without a Sound; and the story of Bert Loper if you want a good sampler).
DAY SIX [Monday – 19 March 2012]:
We first drove the back roads of Green River, Utah photographing everything from the state park; the town tavern (in Utah no less); old bank; wooden church; and the town fire station. The fire station had an old beat up ambulance (Pontiac) that would bring a smile to anyone’s face, except by somebody who actually needed an ambulance in Green River. Oh yes: Veracruzana for good Mexican food in town.
With weather looking very "iffy" we drove out the Potash Road near Moab to take the Bowtie and Corona Arch hike. We started in partly cloudy weather, got snowed on near the arches, hid in a tall shallow alcove where a water fall formed and fell at our feet, then cleared to a bright blue sky day.
No doubt the magic moment and most memorable experience of our road trip for me. We met some interesting folks (and dogs) on that hike as well. Pure fun and outstanding scenery for a short hike so close to Moab.
After the Bowtie/Corona Arch hike we headed up into Arches to photograph the Windows Section of the park, where we spent a lot of time at the North & South Windows and the Double Arch. Next we took a short hike up to the "Upper Delicate Arch overlook". We hiked to the arch itself last year but decided to try photographing it from across a canyon on this road trip.
DAY SEVEN [Tuesday – 20 March 2012]:
The weather forecast looked good, so we headed to the Needles Overlook once more, arriving soon after the sun came up there. There was nobody else there and the landscape was impressive but not the light we hoped for from a photography point of view. We repeated our drive to Anticline and Eightmile Road, taking photographs that we had missed on our earlier drive out there.
Next we headed back into Arches National Park and drove out near the Devil’s Garden trailhead where we took off on the Salt Valley dirt road that passes by Tower Arch. It was a fun road to drive and when we eventually reached highway 191, we decided to head up into the Island of the Sky section of Canyonlands for a short visit at Mesa Arch and Grandview point, where we had stopped last March.
DAY EIGHT [Wednesday – 21 March 2012]:
The snow and sun hike to Bowtie and Corona Arches was my favorite hike of this trip, especially with the short lived but spectacular waterfall which formed and fell at our feet. This day would provide the most scenic drive however.
Most of the route I had been on before and enjoyed many times but the section down the east flank of the Henry mountains (to downtown Tickaboo), then north to the switchback section of the Burr Trail, was the favorite section of road we drove for both Ed and for me.
The Henry Mountains were covered from top to toes in a fresh bright white snow and the moisture that had fallen on the sage, rabbit brush, and Mormon tea plant plains were washed clean with fresh bright colors (and fragrance).
We rounded the southern end of the Henry’s and cut back north past the Surprise Canyon trailhead before regaining familiar ground on the "wiggle" road up through the Water pocket Fold.
A short stop to photograph Peekaboo Arch and we drove on to Boulder via Long Canyon. At Boulder I asked around and found out where a Flickr contact could be found so we stopped, shook hands, and said "hi" to Darren.
The weather turned perfect on our way to Escalante, Utah so we turned off for a visit to Devil’s Garden. The last time I had visited it with my wife the sky had been flat gray and I looked forward to photographing the unusual rock formation and elegant Metate Arch with a dark blue late afternoon sky. Again, we had the entire area to ourselves.
On into Escalante and with hope that Robert at the Circle "D" would have rooms for us (which he did), so we stayed in Escalante and topped a great traveling day off with a huge western dinner at the "Cowboy Blues".
DAY NINE [Thursday – 22 March 2012]:
We drove Escalante to Zion National Park, arriving via the always interesting highway 9. The road up the Virgin River was not yet closed to cars (in favor of the shuttles that start operating soon), so we drove up to the end of the road there, enjoying the view along the way.
Then we returned down canyon and tried our luck with the Kolob Terrace Road. We hoped to make it to the Lava Point overlook, but the road was closed about four mile before reaching that location due to all the snow still covering the road. Still it was a fun drive. We then made our way to Cedar City, Utah where we got rooms for the night.
DAY TEN [Friday – 23 March 2012]:
Heading for home. We decided to break the trip home into two sections with the first being Cedar City, Utah to Twin Falls, Idaho. We chose the road less traveled (Cedar City to Panaca to Ely to Wells to Twin Falls), mostly on highway 93 as our route.
We enjoyed stopping to photograph some friendly but huge draft horses (I think they were Shires or perhaps Clydesdales) along the way. A highlight of this drive was a side trip into Pioche, Nevada (pronounced pee – oach). I had never taken the time to visit this old mining town with a rich (figuratively and literally) history – including what they boast as their Million Dollar Court House.
We found a bakery/cafe that had outstanding bakery products so we stocked up on high calorie "road trip food" (at the canary colored Silver Cafe). We laughed at some of the "Western humor signs we saw around town". I also like the one I saw in a Hanksville, Utah eatery on this trip:
No Trespassing. Violators will be shot. Survivors will be shot a second time".
Twin Falls, Idaho would be our last overnight stop on this road trip.
DAY ELEVEN [Saturday – 24 March 2012]:
Last road trip day: Twin Falls, Idaho to my house in Eastern Washington. But first a quick stop in Boise to see the Falcon exhibit portion of the Birds of Prey site there (and check on the condors, eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls); then a fitting fattening farewell to a road trip with a BIG country style meal at Boise’s Cracker Barrel restaurant.
END OF ROAD TRIP. A GOOD TIME WAS HAD BY ALL. (ESPECIALLY FOR OUR WIVES, WHO GOT ALONG JUST FINE WITHOUT THE TWO OF US FOR A WEEK AND HALF.) SMILEI
Tagged: , Devil’s Garden , Escalante Utah , hole in the rock road , Metate Arch , natural sandstone arches , back road travel Utah , road trip