The Beauty of the Pacific Coast Scenic Highway or 3 Nights in Chinook (Oregon)

Featured

We were sad to leave Crescent City, California but we enjoyed the Pacific Coast Scenic byway, highway 101, from there to Lincoln City, Oregon. Beautiful. We stayed at the Chinook Bend RV Resort, $25.10/night with Passport America. We had planned to stay two nights but the Def System in the truck went wonky and we had to stay for repairs. That was okay as we enjoyed the area very much. The RV Resort was directly on the Siletz River and a three mile boat ride to the Pacific Ocean. We enjoyed our stay there.

Exploring the local area was fun, the weather was a little cool and damp but the scenery was fantastic. We went on a caper in Depoe Bay the first day, population less than 1400 and directly on the Pacific Ocean on Highway 101. Depoe Bay was named after Charles “Charley” Depot, a Siletz Indian (originally the Tututni, a historic Native American Tribe) who owned the land by allotment in the 1894 Dawes Act of 1887. The Dawes Act allotted land to Native Americans who wanted to live off the reservation and it allowed those allotted these lands to become American Citizens. The Dawes Act also attempted to remove the Native Americans from their reservations in order to give their land to white settlers. Deviousness.

Depoe Bay is also home of the world’s smallest harbor and is 3365 miles from Boston. The bay is also frequented by whales that can be seen from the sidewalks. It is also prone to have tsunamis and the town has experienced 21 tsunamis from 1854 to 2008, with a major tsunami in 2011 that destroyed the harbor.

We ate some excellent seafood meals while in town, which was expected due to the location and the number of longstanding good restaurants. The following pictures do not do the area justice. It’s a place to go and experience for yourself. Just watch out for the tsunamis and the whales.

We spent a little time in Lincoln City and at at the famous Mo’s Restaurant, right on the water. It was established in 1946 and has the best clam chowder that I’ve ever eaten. The seafood was fresh and tasty, the staff was wonderful. We also spent some time at the campground because of truck problems but that was okay as the area was beautiful. They have a board at the river house where they record catches. One Chinook was posted as 69 lbs. and many posts were 30 to 50 lbs. I’m sure that would be good eating!

I hope you have enjoyed this adventure. It is my pleasure to share these experiences with you. Coming up: The National Buffalo Range. Awesome!

3 Months on the Road and Here We Are – Yosemite & Crescent City, CA

Featured

As of May 2, 2019, we have completed three full months of touring the beautiful USA. We parked our RV at Yosemite Westlake RV Resort, $30/night with Passport America, and began our fun. We took a little tour around the area to get our bearings and planned to head over to Yosemite in the morning.

Due to late season snows many roads and trails throughout Yosemite (the Park) were closed but we decided to make the best of what we could see. The Park is gorgeous but at the time we were there it was very, very crowded. With all the signs around about “Beware of Wildlife,” I believe they should have signs “Beware of Clueless Rubes.” Yep, we interacted with some!

Yosemite National Park was the first area designated as a national park when President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill on June 30, 1864. The 38th Congress passed the bill in both houses, to protect the area from commercial exploitation and preserve the area. The park is 748,436 acres, 95% is wilderness area, and is visited by about 5 million people a year. 9,500 people a year try to climb El Capitan and about half of those make it to the top. Yosemite was designated a World Heritage Site in 1984.

Yosemite is in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and was formed over time by volcanoes, plate tectonics, and glaciers. I did enjoy the Park very much but Yosemite is not first on my list of parks that we have seen so far. Maybe it’s because we were limited by trail and road closures, I don’t know. This just means that we need to go back when we can see more.

After leaving Yosemite we headed up to Willets, California where we stayed at Sleepy Hollow RV for $20/night (cash only) with Passport America. This was a stopover to breakup the trip. Next stop: Crescent City, California and it was a great coastal location. We stayed at Sunset Harbor RV Park, $13.50/night (cash only). It was a pretty nice place with harbor views and we could hear the fog horns at night. The people were so friendly, which makes me want to make a trip there (in the summer) and spend some time.

The Crescent City area, with a population of less than 8,000, is also known as Del Norte County and is about 20 miles from the Oregon border. It is still home to the Yurok and Tolowa Nations of indigenous peoples. The topography of the ocean is such that the area is prone to tsunamis. I so enjoyed the Battery Point Lighthouse, the oldest continuously running lighthouse in the US, operating since 1855. You can only tour this lighthouse at low tide. We ate some great seafood at North Coast Grill on the harbor, with a great view which included sea lions. It is a small local’s place where we met two women who had lived in Beaufort, SC. If you go try the mud pie. Good lord, ya’ll. They also had the best calamari that I’ve had in ages and all the seafood was excellent. “As god as my witness, I shall return!”

Well, Crescent City was a great place. I do hope to go back again. I also hope that you have enjoyed this blog. Stay tuned for Oregon adventures. Up soon!

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks – Home of Giant Trees and Glacier formed Canyons (April 28-May 2nd)

Featured

We had a one night stopover in Bakersfield, California at Shady Haven RV Resort ($29.50/night with Passport America) then headed to Three Rivers, California. Three Rivers Sequoia RV Park ($51/night with Good Sam’s) was our base camp to capers in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. While spring had arrived and the flowers were blooming, there was still a lot of snow in higher elevations with many roads and trails closed. It was a great visit, with beautiful vistas so all is good. As I always say, get those national park passes as visiting the two parks will cost $70 per car. Those passes pay for themselves in 4 park visits. Well worth it.

84% of both parks are considered wilderness areas. Sequoia covers 404,064 acres and became a national park in 1890. Kings Canyon is 461,901 acres and became a national park in 1890 as General Grant National Park. The name was changed to Kings Canyon in 1940. Of the two I preferred Kings Canyon. It has an ethereal feeling about it and the vistas and waterfalls are spectacular. We spent one and a half days in Kings Canyon and it was well worth it as the pictures will show. Just know that the pictures don’t do it justice. Sequoia and Kings Canyon run contiguous to each other so that was a plus.

Sequoia contains most of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range and has Mount Whitney which has the highest elevation in the United States of 14,505 feet above sea level. The giant sequoia trees are a marvel and the park contains 271 caves, some of which are open to the public. All caves were closed due to the late snows. It just means that I’ll have to go back! There is abundant wildlife and while I was resting on a steep climb up on one of the open trails I was visited by a friendly chickaree, a little squirrel like guy. He was interested in my camera pack. I didn’t see him until a couple of people stopped to take pictures. He was within an inch or two of my shoulder. Cute little bugger.

The first group of pictures are Sequoia National Park. The 2,200 year old General Sherman Sequoia was amazing. 275 feet tall, trunk diameter of 36.5 feet and weighs 1,385 tons. Wow!

Kings Canyon National park has great winding roads and steep cliffs so we had to drive with care. We met a few cars on curves who were on our side of the narrow road. Bless their hearts. I really enjoyed this park and would love to go back again. The pictures don’t do it justice.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Stay tuned for Yosemite and Crescent City, California. Thanks for visiting!

Part 2-Pahrump NV- Death Valley Days, Again!

Featured

Welcome to Part two of the Desert adventure. I was remiss in not mentioning (in part 1) that China Ranch has the best date milkshakes on the planet. After traveling in the hot dry air of the desert there is nothing more refreshing than a freshly made China Ranch Date shake. Honestly. Yum!

After the Goldwell Open Air Museum we took a day for Titus Canyon in Death Valley. To see and experience the Canyon you need an early start and a whole day. Titus Canyon is accessed by a 27 mile one way (east to west) gravel, rock and 4 wheel drive road. I love dirt roads so this was an adventure. To top it off, there is a section in Titus Canyon that has PETROGLYPHS which were picked by the Timbisha Shoshone! The Canyon is a deep gorge in the Grapevine Mountain section of the Mojave Desert. The canyon was formed during the Cambrian era 500 million years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed the place.

Leadfield is a ghost town we passed through on the east side of Titus Canyon. It was an unincorporated area 4,058 above sea level. The Western Lead Mine Company, particularly CC Julian, promoted a get rich quick scheme through false advertising to get investors. The town formed and boomed to a population of 300 in 1925 and was abandoned in 1927 as the mines closed (not productive). Mr. Julian simply disappeared. Even in the 1920s if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. The only person to make money was Mr. Julian.

We traveled through the Stovepipe Wells settlement on our way to the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. When most people think of deserts they think of sand. Death Valley is less than 1% sand dunes. Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes is expansive and impressive. There are three kinds of dunes there: crescent, linear, and star shaped. It is also a protected wilderness area but they do allow people to go out on the dunes. Very nice. Bring plenty of water!

Next we were off to explore the Harmony Borax Works ruins. It is located at Furnace Creek Springs in Death Valley and it is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Borax was discovered there in 1881 by Aaron and Rosie Winters with William Coleman and Francis Smith obtaining mining rights. They were the original twenty mule team borax folks. The operation began in 1883 and collapsed in 1888.

Manzanar Internment (Concentration) Camp was a very somber experience. It is one of 10 camps where 110,000 Japanese Americans were held from December 1942 to 1945, during World War II. It is now called the Manzanar National Historic Site. This is a sad history of a dark time in our country. Reading and viewing the exhibits was overwhelming. How could this have happened in the United States of America? Can it happen again? We don’t tend to learn from our historical mistakes.

We took a day to experience the Hoover Dam and Lake Meade. The Dam is amazing and it was a great tour. It is on the Colorado River and borders both Nevada and Arizona and was built during the great depression, 1931-1936. It is a marvel, even by today’s standards. One story of interest to me was the Hoover Dam Dog. He was a part lab puppy that was born in 1932 in the crawlspace under the police department of Boulder. One of the workers started bringing him to the dam every day. The pup came and went with the workers each day and the commissary started making lunch for the pup. He carried his lunch bag along with the men. He went to sleep under a truck on February 21, 1941. He was accidentally run over and is buried on site at the dam and was honored with a plaque above his tomb. Hardened construction workers broke down in tears over his death and are responsible for making a place of honor for him at the dam.

The Chicken Ranch! No trip to Pahrump is complete without checking out the Historic Chicken Ranch Brothel, so we did. Got the tee-shirt! It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. We had to be buzzed in and out through the gate and the front door. It was a nice place to have a coke and get some souvenirs. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Lastly, we had a divine lunch at the Pahrump Valley Winery at their Symphony Restaurant. The food was deliciously savory and the ambiance outstanding as was the wait staff. It was a special gift that we gave ourselves. Well worth it. Give it a try if you are in the area.

That wraps up our Pahrump, Nevada adventures. Good fun was had by all! Please stay tuned for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Thanks again for reading.

Death Valley Days-Pahrump, NV April 16-28 (where gambling, weed and prostitution are legal)

Featured

We arrived on April 16 at Preferred RV Resort (Good Sams $18/night), Pahrump, NV, for an adventure that spilled over to Death Valley, California. We stayed until the 28th and enjoyed many days in the desert, which was in full bloom. I never thought about a desert in bloom but let me tell you that it was beautiful. We averaged hiking about 6 miles a day and enjoyed every minute of it. The Furnace Creek area was 102 degrees but no humidity. Just remember to take plenty of water, sunscreen, good hat and walking shoes. We made an obligatory trip over to Las Vegas (haven’t lost anything there), and we enjoyed ghost towns, China Ranch, Manzanar, Hoover Dam and last but not least Chicken Ranch!

Death Valley National Park is Homeland of the Timbisha Shoshone tribe and is on the border of Nevada and California. 91% is wilderness area and the Valley is the hottest, driest place in North America with annual rainfall of 1.5 inches in the basins to 15 inches in the surrounding mountains. We were fortunate to be there in a full blooming spring desert. There were amazing salt flats and Badwater Basin with an elevation of 282 feet below sea level. The Valley encompasses the Great Basin and the Mojave Desert. Elevations vary as does the terrain. Titus Canyon was one of my favorite places, accessed by a one way gravel/dirt/boulder 28 mile road(?). Blooming plants draped many canyon surfaces and looked like hanging baskets. Loved it!

Dante’s View is a scenic terrace overlooking the Valley from 5,476 feet above sea level and on a crest of the black mountains. For the adventurous soul, hiking out to the edges of the terrace is very rewarding in wonderful views.

Zabriski’s Point is part of the Amargosa Range and was formed 5 million years ago when an ancient lake dried up. Erosion and volcanic activity caused the landscape.

Furnace Creek is 192 feet below sea level and has the record of the highest temperature on earth, recorded at 201 degrees on July 15, 1972. It has a population of 24 hardy souls.

Artist Palette Drive is on an alluvial fan and the landscape was created by volcanic activity in the Miocene Period. It is known by the various colorful rocks.

Badwater Basin is 282 feet below sea level and is so named because the water is inundated by salts from the surrounding area and is undrinkable.

Ashford Mill Ruins is the remnants of a gold mine started in 1914 by the Ashford brothers. It played out around 1938.

China Ranch and Date Farm is another favorite. We stocked up on dates and breads. Delicious and the ranch was an interesting place. It is located in an oasis on the Amargosa River, adjacent to Death Valley. It is family owned and operated and surrounded by abandoned gold mines. The trip in was a “trip!” Some history can be found here:
http://www.chinaranch.com/category_s/25.htm

Rhyolite Ghost Town is on the eastern edge of Death Valley. It was founded as a gold mine by industrialist Charles M Schwab in 1906 and closed in 1911. At it’s peak in 1906 the population was some over 3,000. Next to Rhyolite is the Goldwell Open Air Museum which is wonderfully eclectic.

Goldwell Open Air Museum at Rhyolite is a one room museum with historical pictures and artifacts from the area. Interactive art is on the grounds outside. The museum was started after the death of Albert Szukalski, a Belgian artist who created the first sculpture there, “The Last Supper” in 1984. It is eclectic and wonderful.

Please stay tuned for Part 2 of this adventure. Titus Canyon, the tragic tale of Manzanar Internment Camp, and more. Thanks for reading!

Four Spiritual Days in Kanab, Utah April 12-16 Bryce Canyon/Zion

Featured

Our base of operations for these adventures was Wheel Inn RV Park ($27/night with Good Sam’s) in Fredonia, Arizona. It was just a few miles from Kanab, Utah and about 3 miles from the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation. The reservation is semi arid with natural springs on a little over 120,000 acres. There are five tribal villages on the reservation.

The owners of Wheel Inn RV Park were great. The husband, Eric, stopped by to talk to us about local roads, some of them dirt lanes, and places to eat. He shared very useful information and we were happy to have it as he told us how to get around to sites, even with road closures. He recommended Houston’s Trails End Restaurant in Kanab, a locals’ favorite. The food was delicious and the waitstaff was outstanding. We were also allowed to modify menu offerings to fit our needs and there was no fuss about it. I recommend eating there but go hungry!

We had planned to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon but due to late snows, the North Rim was closed. Parts of Bryce Canyon National Park was closed at the 11 mile mark at Natural Bridge and many of the trails were closed to hiking. Zion National Park was in full spring blooms. We just altered daily plans and went where we could. This was a wonderful area and we had a blast. Bryce Canyon National Park was cold and snowy, we wore jackets and scarfs. Zion National Park was warm tee-shirt weather. Each day it seems we had extremes in weather. We were prepared.

The first day we traveled on the Highway 12 Scenic Parkway. It is considered one of the most scenic roads in the United States and was named “All American Highway” in 2002. Highway 12 runs through Dixie National Forest and two national parks: Bryce Canyon and Escalante. It’s simply breathtaking. We traveled through Red Canyon, Panguitch and Bryce Canyon National Park. We did some hiking but many trails were closed due to late snow. It was still a great experience.

At Inspiration Point I met a woman from South Carolina who had a finance position at Coastal Carolina University but now lives in Arkansas. I retired from finance at Horry Georgetown Technical College, just across the street. We had a nice long talk. It certainly is a very small world.

At Sunset Point Bryce Canyon

Off to Zion National Park for our next caper. So far, this is the best place I’ve visited on this trip. I can’t explain the feelings and oneness that I felt with nature and the universe while there. Telepathically, I communicated with my dear friend, Liz, who appreciates this place as much as I do. It was simply wondrous! One of my favorite things was sitting on the bank of the Colorado River on a flat rock, reveling in the quiet beauty. Zion was in bloom and gorgeous. I’d like to add that my travel partner has some issues with oxygen at high altitudes. The Park Rangers issued us a pass to drive through the Park so that he wouldn’t have to shuttle on and off the buses with his pack. We had our own private tour and we saw much more of the park and trails. We didn’t know that the National Park Service had this service. What a great bit of information to have.

We visited the reservation (they had the best deal on diesel fuel) and took some scenic drives. It was time to move to a new base and new excursions. Next up: Pahrump, Nevada where weed, prostitution, and gambling are legal. Death Valley/Mom’s Diner/China Ranch/Ghost Towns/Titus Canyon…. Stay tuned!

If it’s Tuesday, it must be Torrey, Utah. April 9-12 Capitol Reef, Fruita, Escalante

Featured

Our home for the next few days was Thousand Lakes RV Resort ($36.45/night with Good Sam’s) just outside of Torrey, Utah. Torrey has a population of 180 with median household income of $47,369. It’s a good place to anchor for day trips to surrounding areas.

The weather was a little unpredictable with snow and flurries on higher elevations and warmer weather in the valleys. That didn’t slow us down one bit. An interesting thing happened at the Torrey Trading Post. As we were leaving, after a very long day, we were approached by two ladies from the local paper. They talked to us about our visit and took our photo for the paper. It was a nice exchange. Almost famous!

The first day we visited the Fruita Mormon settlement and the Fremont area of the Capitol Reef Park. The Mormons settled the area near the juncture of Fremont River and Sulfur Creek in 1880. The group was led by Nels Johnson and originally called the settlement “Junction.” The name was changed in 1902-1904 to Fruita because of the large orchards that were established by the Mormons on the Fremont River. The town was abandoned after World War II with just a few buildings remaining. This is a beautiful area with large herds of mule deer and Petroglyphs. If you’ve been following my blog you know I love petroglyphs.

We rode out to the Grand Wash Trail, a nice trail that weaves in and out of a dry river bed or wash, known as the Waterpocket fold. We took the Grand Wash Road, a winding dirt and rock road out to the trail head. The trail is about 2.2 miles one way but well worth it. It’s rated as an easier trail but it is rocky and uneven. Make sure to take a lot of water as it was 89 degrees while we were there this month. Make sure to watch for rains as there are flash floods anytime and the trail runs on a wash. There are petroglyphs and pioneer records on the walls in areas of this trail. I thoroughly enjoyed this hike and was invigorated when finished. The down side as I see it was the total disrespect for the petroglyphs as modern vandals (no other word for it) have ruined many of them by carving their names and dates. Too bad.

Our next adventure was the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This area is one of the most remote in the United States and dinosaur fossils are still being found near there. The latest was found in 2013 and has been dated as 75 million years old. Human settlers have been in the area since the Basketmaker era AD 500. The first white settlers was Captain James Andrus in 1866, when he led group of cavalry to the headwaters of the Escalante River. The Mormons on the 1879 San Juan Expedition passed through the Monument, answering the call to start colonies in southeastern Utah. We visited the Hole-In-The-Rock Museum and it was fascinating.

Some of the roads in the Monument were closed due to late snows but we enjoyed what we could see.

This was a marvelous adventure and I recommend visiting this area. Next up: Kanab, Utah… Bryce Canyon and Zion…. Stay tuned!

It’s Extreme Sports! Moab, Utah April 5-9

Featured

What can I say about Moab, Utah, population 5,300 (on a good day)! We stayed at OK RV Resort ($41.65/Day with Good Sam’s) on the outskirts of town. Great resort with great amenities and views. Moab is the mecca for mountain bikers, hikers and off-roaders. I have never seen so many Can-Am, Polaris and jeep vehicles in my life! Oh, and the red dirt. It’s famous!

If you love red dirt, warm weather, and the outdoors you’ll love Moab. The Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park are all nearby and make for great adventuring! The town is eclectic and quaint but busy. Two restaurants we enjoyed were The Moab Diner and Hidden Cuisine. Both reasonably priced with good service and tasty fare.

Our first stop was The Arches National Park. What a great landscape! The Arches has the highest density of natural arches anywhere in the world, about 2,000 of them. The Park is on 76,689 acres on the high desert of the Colorado Plateau. It’s a beautiful place to spend some time. The hiking areas are rated easy to extreme but even on the easier trails water and sunscreen are necessities. We averaged hiking a little over 6 miles in an afternoon. Well worth it. Don’t forget to take your National Park Pass or the entrance fee is $35 per car. How do you choose a photo? It’s difficult.

The park’s terrain appears to be rugged and durable but it is extremely fragile. With more than 1 million visitors each year this ecosystem is threatened by those who think the rules about not climbing (without a permit) and walking off existing trails applies to them. The cyanobacteria, algae, fungi, and lichens can be destroyed for decades with a simple footstep off the trail. There is a $20,000 fine if you are caught. Unfortunately we encountered a few of these folks and we did confront them, only to hear, “I don’t care, Ranger Bob.” Even sadder, they had their school aged kids with them. What are they teaching them?

The next day we headed to Dead Horse Point State Park. They also ask that you stay on marked trails to lessen the impact of your visit. Legend has it that cowboys in the 1800s used the point as a corral to round up wild horses. They would round up the horses and drive them across a 30 foot neck onto the point then close the neck with brush and limbs. One of these roundups was disastrous for the horses as the cowboys picked the good horses and left the “scrubs” to die of thirst on the point. The Colorado River is 2,000 feet below the point. The horses could smell the water but could not get to it. No one knows why the cowboys decided to do this. No matter how I look at it, it’s cruelty in the worst form.

Canyonlands National Park was our last excursion while in Moab. It is another beautiful place in the high desert. Canyonlands is divided into four parts: The Maze, Island in the Sky, the Needles, and the Rivers (where the Green and Colorado Rivers converged. These rivers cut deep creating two canyons. We enjoyed the trails and clocked over 5 miles while in the canyon. More pictures:

Hope you enjoyed reading about this outing. Next up: Torrey, Utah with Capital Reef, Escalante at Grand Staircase, Anasazi Museum and more! Stay tuned.

Part II: Blanding, Utah: Sand Island Petroglyphs and Monument Valley

Featured

Locals had told us about visiting Sand Island Park, home of a campground on the San Juan River and the Sand Island Petroglyphs. This area has a 100 yards panel full of petroglyphs, some dating to 6500 BC. We took some time, sat on a rock and just viewed them. The longer we sat, the more we saw. It’s a must see if you are interested in ancient art and petroglyphs. Instead of labeling these, I’ll just let you look and see what you can discover in this magnificent art.

Our last excursion near Blanding was Monument Valley, on the Navajo Nation Reservation. The Navajo refer to it as “valley of the rocks.” The Valley is 5000 to 6000 feet above sea level with the monuments rising another 1000 feet above the valley floor. The sandstone buttes are vast and part of the Colorado Plateau. The red color comes from iron oxides and the blue-gray colors from magnesium oxide. The buttes cover 5 square miles and were made famous by John Ford in his westerns starting from the 1930s.

While there we met several members of the Navajo Nation. They were skilled artisans and jewelry makers. Gracious, friendly and accommodating. I was able to purchase a few items and get photos of the artisans, with their permission. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and learning about Navajo culture, history and the history of the valley.

We had a very large time on this adventure. I enjoy learning about cultures, both modern and ancient and studying history. There is so much to learn if you are open to it. History is an important tool to avoid mistakes of the past. Learn and grow, no matter what your age.

Next up: Moab, Utah and the many adventures there. Stay tuned!

Outstanding Adventure: Blanding, Utah April 2-5

Featured

Our base of operations was Blanding RV Resort ($28/night with Good Sams). This was a pretty central location for all of our day trips. We would leave early in the morning and return around dusk.

First caper: Edge of Cedars Museum and ancient pueblo, a state of Utah run park on the outskirts of Blanding. The ancient pueblo was built and occupied from AD 825 to about 1225 AD. The museum has a vast collection of Anasazi (Ancient Puebloan) artifacts. The most fascinating was a macaw sash from around 850 AD, which had survived in full color and form. Many sculptures are on the grounds and they are marvelous. There is a 1000 year old restored Kiva (ceremonial building) and one can enter through the roof by ladder. I’m so glad we put this on our lists of must sees!

On the way to Natural Bridges National Monument we made a few additional stops for hiking. The first stop was Butler Wash Ruins, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It was a hike over rugged desert terrain and shear rock and about 1.75 round trip. Ray hiked part of the way but due to altitude and breathing issues he stopped and waited for me. I made it up to the cliff dwelling ruins that dated from about 950 AD to 1130 AD. They too were abandoned but experts aren’t sure of the reason. Modern Hopi’s claim them as ancestors and continue with their cultural ways. The Hopi ask that you treat the Ancient Pueblos with respect as they are sacred grounds. The hike is worth it, just remember to pace yourself and take plenty of water.

Second Stop: Mule Canyon Ruins, managed by the BLM. Some covers have been built to help preserve these over 700 year old ruins. They were also abandoned around 1025 AD.

Natural Bridges National Monument, established in 1908, is Utah’s first monument. The three bridges are named to honor the Ancient Puebloans:
“Kachina,” “Owachomo” and “Sipapu.” The area of the bridges was a sea about 100 million years ago. Striations in the rock show this. Shell and fossil sea creatures have been found here. The bridges were cause by erosion from running water after the plates collided some 10 million years ago. This is a great place to hike for views. Spectacular! Sipapu Bridge:

On the way to Kachina Bridge, we stopped so that I could hike the Horse Collar Ruin Trail (1 mile round trip). It was an interesting trail with some areas walking on slick rock with no barrier on the cliffs. Horse Ruins are Ancient Puebloan structures on a cliff above the Colorado River drainage. These ruins were also deserted around 1025 AD. Possibly part of a mass migration due to many years of drought.

Then, there we were at Kachina Bridge!

Owachomo Bridge:

On to the next shenanigans! We took the Moki Dugaway access to Valley of the Gods. The Moki Dugaway reminded me of the Road to Hana on Maui, without the lush tropical seascapes. The Moki was shorter, in the desert and completely dangerous, especially if you met a car on the narrow dirt lane. The Moki was built in 1958 by a mining company out of Texas. It is 3 miles of dirt switchbacks. It was exhilarating and exhausting….. no kidding.

With adrenaline pumping, we made it to The Valley of the Gods, a sandstone valley in San Juan County, Utah. This ancient landscape has buttes, mesas, columns, and balanced rocks. As of December 2017 it is no longer part of Bear’s Ears National Monument but is still protected by the BLM. The road through the Valley is 17 miles of bumpy dirt roads. We were fortunate to be there with just a few other tourists. It’s worth a look and I enjoyed it, right down to meeting a German tourist who was spending months here to complete his bucket list as he had just finished cancer treatment. He was around 40 years old and had an awesome attitude about living life.

Next stop: Sand Island