Travelogue VII

We are at Canyon De Chelly and we check out the visitors center, seen the=

film on the park and decide the next day we would check out the commerci=

al tours in the Canyon which belong to the Navajo. The rim drives are fr=

ee. You can also hire a guide and take your own 4 x 4. The Cottonwood C=

G ran by the park is free. They have a dump station but the water was no=

t turned on to fill our tank. We later made a funnel with a cup and poure=

d in 11 gallons that we got at a hydrant in the CG. We checked at the Thu=

nderbird Lodge and they wanted about $100 for a 4 tour, riding in the ope=

n on the back of a truck with really no narration, so I decided to go to =

the Visitors Center again and see about hiring our own guide. Well the g=

uides are standing around outside and they have a list so you take who ev=

er is on the top of the list. We get our free back country permit from t=

he park service. In the process I find out we will be driving in the riv=

er some, I assumed to cross a few times at crossings. He says he has no=

t had anyone get stuck for a long time. So we head out. Well LET ME TEL=


e up the river, no if an or buts about it!!! He tells me where to drive.=

The water is from 3 inches deep to 1.5 feet a few places and some hard =

packed wet areas with no water. We drive up the river like this for abou=

t 2 miles and Edith is back seat driving big time! I will admit have a t=

ouch of doubt as there is a huge sign as we entered the river about doing=

this at your own risk and that there was no towing service. I question =

my guide again about getting stuck and he assures me but soon we are cros=

sing an area and it is getting pretty deep and as many of you know there =

is a fine line between to much speed and not enough speed. I am thinking=

it is going alright except for once in awhile not being sure where he wa=

nted me to drive. I of course have it locked in 4 x 4 High range. We ar=

e crossing and he calmly says "A LITTLE MORE SPEED" and then a second ti=

me "A LITTLE MORE SPEED" and I could feel it slipping and the heart rate =

picked up! Fortunately we climbed out of the water and up on the wet gro=

und. The other thing he told me several times was "DON"T STOP IN THE WAT=

ER"! Anyway after that we hit the water with more speed and he never had=

to say that again for which I was thankful! Eventually we drove in less=

water and could drive on the bank more and eventually it got to stream c=

rossing as we went up the north canyon as the road was washed out in the =

south canyon. We seen nice pictographs and Petroglyphs and a number of a=

ncient dwellings. You can not enter these anyplace like you can at Mesa =

Verde. I am getting comfortable with the stream crossing although a coup=

le you either fell into the water or had to climb a steep bank out of a d=

eeper spot where people had spun there wheels. BUt 4 x 4 is absolutely a=

mazing! Anyway we come to the stream and there is no place to go, no cr=

ossing! I said where do we go? Our guide tells me just angle it into th=

e stream and then turn up stream and just drive up the creek. Now that i=

s exciting, THIS IS ADVENTURE! driving up a stream about 6" to 12" deep =

with high banks on both sides. After about 200 yards the stream bends ar=

ound a sheer cliff on the right side and the cliff then ends and we can =

leave the stream and climb up on the bank. The trail looked mighty good! =

Can you imagine bogging down in that 200 yards some place. Eventually go=

ing to the last ruin, called Mummy Cave the road got very rough and rocky=

and the springs would snap and pop which was a little disconcerting. An=

yway we made it and turned around and headed back. It was costing us $15=

an hour but he was a good guide and we were comfortable, NOT COLD. On t=

he way back we met a truck from Thunderbird Lodge. He called it the Shak=

e and Bake tour but today it was the SHAKE AND FREEZE tour. He said when=

they got back a lot of them would barely be able to walk away from the t=

ruck to their cars. This was their all day tour. Going back went a lot =

faster as we only stopped once at Antelope Bend for a rest stop. Edith i=

s buying jewelry and negotiating the price and visiting and I am watching=

the clock thinking about $15.00 an hour, oh well adventure isn't free. =

We ended up taking 4.5 hours so $67.50 so we saved a lot and had a lot be=

tter tour. Now if we would of got stuck the price scale would of SLAMMED =

THE OTHER WAY! I asked our guide what he did on days he did not have a gu=

iding job and he said he ran around the canyon with his pickup pulling ou=

t people who are stuck to make some money! He still stuck by his story t=

hat no one had gotten stuck for a long time when he was the guide??? The=

re are a lot of vehicles that drive up and down the river every day and t=

hey definitely have a certain path they take, very specific so I guess he=

probably is correct. Also the water level seems to be the highest in th=

e morning and lower in the afternoon and it was definitely lower on the w=

ay back so he must be correct. Logically it would seem to me to be the o=

ther way around but a lot of the water is from snow melt in the mountains=

so it may be a factor of how many hours it takes to get down into the ca=

nyon and of course the melt would stop at night. The next day we did bot=

h canyon rim tours and I also hiked down into the south canyon where we d=

id not drive and visited what is called White House. It is the only plac=

e you can go into the canyon without a guide. Would I recommend you taki=

ng a 4 x 4 into the canyon. Well yes BUT only in the summer when it is m=

uch drier and there is no need to go beyond Antelope Bend. I don't know =

much about driving up the south canyon. Presently most were stopping at =

White House so if you can not go beyond there don't do it as you can see =

it from the rim and can walk down on the trail to White House. If you ca=

n drive to the "WINDOW" and see the south canyon through the "WINDOW" I w=

ould consider it otherwise I would just do the north canyon as there are =

more ruins. From here we headed north for the Moab area. Herb N7HF call=

ed us every day checking on us. What a nice guy, his was a Navajo! We c=

amped at Windwhistle BLM north of Monticello. We drove out to Canyon Lan=

d NP Needles Overlook and the Anticline Overlook where they mine Potash a=

nd Salt by taking water from the Colorado and flooding two shafts and the=

n pumping out the water which absorbs the compounds from which they can e=

ventually get salt and potash. The put the water in evaporation ponds an=

d add chemicals just like there did on the Baja . These are great drives=

, the Anticline one is a dirt road but nice and smooth you just have to b=

e careful about rain or snow. The next day it started to rain but we dro=

ve south and into Canyon Land NP Needles district and seen the needles. =

We were concerned about snow so we did not take the dirt roads clear back=

into the needles. If the weather would of been better I would of and I =

would recommend it. It is a little tricky so get directions from the ran=

gers. Coming out we got into heavy snow but by the time we got back to H=

wy 191 headed north it turned to rain. We got the 5th and headed for Moa=

b which is about 4000-4500 feet so is much warmer than at 5500-6500 feet.=

Moab was full of JEEPS, every where you looked. It turned out it was t=

he 39th annual Jeep Safari week. This also brings all kinds of ATV's Mot=

orcycles and bicycles. Moab is really a hot spot for recreation and the =

Moab Tourist Information center is right on Hwy 191 on Center Street and =

is well signed. They have all sorts of free literature, video's, maps an=

d books you can buy and some free maps as well and all the park info. Th=

ere information people are very good. They told us about a free BLM RV, =

Tent area out on Hwy 313 called Grand Mesa. There are other free areas a=

long this road. You can go off on a gravel road and apparently if you ge=

t off the road a ways they leave you alone. At least there were people e=

very where with the Jeep Rally. It was a great place with a great view o=

f the La Sal and Henry Mts and rock formations. The only down side was i=

t could be windy and it was a dirt road coming in but it did dry up quite=

fast. It was a little muddy coming in. We spent a couple of days touri=

ng Canyon Land NP Island int he Sky District and then took the Shafer Can=

yon road with is an exciting, dirt switchback road down into the Colorado=

River valley. It is straight down for a long ways. It was unbelievable=

meeting bicycles coming up and super, super low gear. They were hurting=

! From there we went over to the Potash plant, it is a rough, rocky roa=

d and you need clearance but don't need 4 x 4 if it dry. We drove in the=

creek bed for quite aways. We got right to the bank of the Colorado Rive=

r and seen Dead Horse Point up above where we had been and Anticline Poin=

t where we had been a few days earlier looking down. There were all kind=

s of recreational vehicles out here. At the Potash plant there is an oil=

road going up along the west side of the river to Moab. At Moab we got =

our license plate tags via General Delivery at the post office and then w=

ent down the other side of the river to Kane Creek Road, we did not take =

the time to go into Kane Creek Canyon and go to where we had looked down =

on this canyon from Anticline Lookout and seen people camped below. It is=

a lot hard to camp free around Moab than it used to be as they have shut=

most of it down and are charging with the excuse of protecting the area =

against all the people. Other areas in Utah there are lots of free areas=

yet on BLM land. The weather forecast sounded bad but we went up the Co=

lorado on Hwy 128 and over to Castle Rock where we got into the La Sal Mt=

=2E and it started snowing so we could not do the loop through the mounta=

ins and back to Moab. It is a good trip if the weather is OK. Back lowe=

r it stopped snowing and raining so we went to Archers NP. There are thre=

e forecasts here, mountains, high valleys and low valleys and the differe=

nce is tremendous! We went again the next day and again the weather fore=

cast was terrible but it turned out OK. We hiked to all the Arches, the=

best one is Delicate Arch and second is Landscape Arch. Both are a fair=

ly good hike but in the cool weather is no problem. It would be a lot to=

ugher at 100 degrees. We left on Friday and again a terrible weather for=

ecast and after three days they finally were partly correct as it did rai=

n. We went west of Green River Utah and south on Hwy 24 to Goblin Valley=

State park but before we got there we seen all sorts of rigs with 4 whee=

lers heading toward Temple Mt. so I decide to check it out as it was a na=

rrow oil road. We found a OHV staging area and we could park in it free =

and they had good pit toilets. We have been dry camping since Canyon De =

Chelly and the water is holding out and the black water tank is OK but we=

have been using the pit toilets when ever we can. We got set up and had=

UHF amateur communication back into the repeater we used at Moab and hav=

e IRLP so we can talk back to the fellows in South Dakota and our son Cur=

t in Glendale, AZ and others as well. Unfortunately it started to snow a=

t about 45 degrees and we got a couple of inches before it stopped but it=

was still warm enough to melt before evening. The next day I drove 35 m=

iles to the Horseshoe Canyon unit of Canyon Land NP and hike down into th=

e canyon to 4 different rock art sites considered to be some of the best =

in North America. They are old, carbon dated between 2000 BC and 100 AD.=

They are huge, mostly red and life size. You can check my web site fo=

r pictures and the Internet for Barrier Canyon Rock Art or Horseshoe Cany=

on Unit of Canyon Land NP. Here near Temple rock out neighbor Mark and h=

is wife have written a book about this area which is called the San Rafea=

l Swell. It is a good read and has a lot of history, maps with Odometer =

readings and color pictures. With that and his help I really understand a=

lot about the trails and roads in this area. We traveled some with the =

F-350 and seen some wonderful scenery. We seen there RV where you load t=

he 4 wheelers using the back tail gate as a ramp. We seen some good rock=

art very close by and some old Uranium mines. The Uranium boom of the 5=

0's is when most of these roads were built in this area. Now some are st=

ill roads but most are ATV roads and some motor cycle roads. I would love=

to have a 4 wheeler but hauling it IS A REAL PROBLEM with a 5th wheel so=

I doubt if it ever happens.

Capital Reef NP is under rated. It is a great park. The scenic drive so=

uth where the Outlaw Butch Cassidy used to hide out and has an arch named=

afer him, Hickmand Bridge and the Fruita Morman historic district with =

allkinds of fruit trees An exciting drive was down the east side of Capi=

tal Reef, up the side of the reef on a dirt road with at least 6 switch b=

acks in 4 x 4 Low range, at least 2000 feet down and then hiked to Strike=

r Valley Overlook where you can see the folds up and down the reef. Chec=

k the website later for a picture. We then went across Escalante Stairca=

se National Monument which is also very scenic. We then to Hwy 12 down t=

o Tropic, viewing Bryce NP from the bottom up as we have been in Bryce be=

fore. BTW there is a grocery store with other things in Tropic. Be sure=

and stop in as their prices are very, very reasonable. We then took Hwy =

12 back to Torrey. It is is believe the most scenic, non-park road we ha=

ve taken, with great Utah dessert scenery plus great mountain scenery goi=

ng over 10,000 feet in Dixe NF. We then went over the mountains through =

Fish Lake NFS on Hwy 72. The forecast was good but we ran into snow as t=

he elevation got up to nearly 9000 feet. We met snow plows so that was n=

ot a good sign. As we started pulling up a big grade I started spinning =

and could not pull the 5th. I stopped to put it in park but it wants to =

slide back so I kept the brakes on and that held it while Edith locked in=

the hubs. In 4 x 4 High range it started from a dead stop and we had no=

trouble pulling but went slow. Toward the top it was starting to drift =

in where the plows had opened it. Heading down in 4 x 4 and in second or=

low and going about 20-30 mph it was no problem keeping the speed down w=

ith very little brakes. We got to Castle Dale and parked on BLM land and=

drove to what is called the Wedge overlooking the San Rafael River and S=

well. We also visited the museum in town which was great with lots of fo=

ssils. dinosaur, Indian artifacts and animals of the area. On the way in=

to town we seen the Rochester Panel of rock art by Moore. We called our =

friend Mark here that we met by Temple Mt. and he was free to go with us =

so on Thursday morning we picked him up and we seen several petroglyphs a=

nd probably the best was the Buckhorn Wash Pictograph. We visited a high=

vista off Cedar Mt. and could see all over Utah and even into CO a 100 m=

iles away while having a picnic. We also seen a huge dinosaur track and =

some great scenery. You will be able to see pictures on the web site of =

the San Rafael Swell before to long. We plan on visiting Scotts Bluff NM=

and Chimney Rock along the Oregon trail in NE on the way home. This wil=

l be it for this trip. Ed and Edith Gray