From the hot desert of the Paria Guest Ranch we traveled to Goulding Campground in the hot desert of Monument Valley that straddles Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. The location of some famous John Ford Western movies, the dramatic landscape is awe-inspiring in the right light and weather.
After a couple days in Monument Valley, we headed north and east to Sundance RV in Cortez, Colorado. We took some short trips, including a tour of Mesa Verde, a wonderful national park that we had not visited in several years. Here is a shot from the Park plus one of Hunting Jack from a morning stroll.
From Cortez, we took the short trip east to United Campground in Durango. What makes this campground special is that the famous narrow rail Durango-Silverton train runs right through the center of the place! So every morning and every evening campers walked down to the train track to hear the whistle, smell the smoke, and view the trains chugging along…actually, it is quite addictive!
From Durango we made our scenic way to Ridgway State Park, just north of the town of Ridgway and close to the great towns of Ouray and Telluride. This is one of our favorite areas in all of Colorado, and that says a lot.
Our large, wooded campsite was full of birds, and we spent much time viewing their antics. Especially fun to watch was the large number of bluebirds.
Owl Creek Pass Day Trip
We took a wonderful trip up into the mountains to Owl Creek Pass. From there we headed north and east on to Silver Jack Reservoir, especially enjoying the wildflowers--Indian paints, cow parsnip, bull thistle, larkspur, daisies, scarlet gilia, penstemon, goldenweed, elk thistle, hawksbeard, fireweed, and on and on. This is the same trip we took a few years ago where we spotted our first mountain lion.
Every morning we took the Pups down to the Ridgway Day Use area along the reservoir. Since there were only a few fishermen up at that hour, we let the Pups run loose. Jack chased everything that moved, including chippers, birds, and grasshoppers. Mitzy strolled along sniffing and peeing as the mood fit her. When she got tired we put her in her buggy and gave her a ride. One morning we saw a red fox, and the next morning we saw two of them together. We watched them jump, box, and chase each other as they played in the morning sun. I did not have a long lens, but I did at least capture the solo fox the first day.
In the town of Ridgway there was a really cool mural and a really neat old truck at the train museum. Just a wonderful area.
See you soon.
On to Torrey
From Springville we ventured off south to Torrey, Utah, staying at Wonderland RV Park. After settling in, we took an afternoon scenic drive into Capital Reef National Monument.
Capital Reef Country Scenic Byway
We took a 155-mile loop of a day trip that was one of the best I’ve ever taken. We headed east on the Capital Reef Country Scenic Byway, past the entrance to Capital Reef National Park to our first stop to visit the petroglyphs.
After a few miles east, we turned south on the Notom Road Scenic Backway which followed the once underwater reef. We passed ranches and washes, creeks and mesas as we wandered through this dynamic, rugged, magnificent landscape full of reds, yellows, creams, whites, oranges, and greens. Amazing.
The paved road quickly turned to dirt which in many ways was good--we only saw six vehicles the first four hours of our jaunt. We moved along the Oyster Shelf Reef, named after all the oyster shells left there from several thousand years ago. At the Burr Trail Switchbacks, we headed west on the Burr Trail Scenic Backway, once again through fascinating scenery. Pictures don’t do it justice, but here is my attempt to capture some of the grandeur.
We stopped for lunch at a marvelous restaurant in Boulder, and then headed home on the Journey through Time Scenic Byway, complete with more glorious vistas and several climbs on 10% grades.
Capital Reef National Monument and the surrounding area are not household names and the lack of traffic proves this. However, in terms of impressiveness, they are right up there with all the big-name parks.
The next afternoon we drove around Fish Lake, north and east of Torrey. After the bold, rugged trip of the day before, we enjoyed the soft browns and greens of the hills and blue of the lake. Looks like a wonderful place to hang for a few weeks or a few months. Here is a shot from Torrey of an old cabin.
We drove the 122-mile journey to Ruby’s Inn and Campground at Bryce Canyon City via 24 West, 62 West, and 22 South. Again, pleasant scenery, and except for some narrow stretches of road, an easy trip.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Leaving early morning to avoid the traffic we took the roughly 20-mile road that is the only driveable portion of this special place. Starting at the very end at the last stop, we took in all the main lookouts. The hoodoos are something, with great vistas everywhere.
However, the special place for me was Inspiration Point…I found it, well, inspirational. Staring down on the landscape your imagination takes off…sunlight glinting off a castle guarded by a giant, the broken walls of a city under siege, a majestic cathedral overlooking a valley, legions of warriors in battle formation, and so on and so on. I had a wonderful time taking photos and a few turned out decent.
Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument
We journeyed east on Highway 12, that splendid scenic byway, through the town of Tropic, stopping a few times at overlooks to enjoy the views. My original plan was to travel the Devil’s Backbone (great name, don’t you think), however, talking to rangers at the visitor center just outside Escalante, they recommended another option. Heeding their advice, we took Highway 12 east again, traveling the highway to Boulder. Our first stop was the Anastazi Musuem at Anastazi State Park where they had an interesting display of ancient Indians. Right outside the museum was a food truck parked by a grassy area complete with picnic tables. On the advice of locals, we dined with them, splitting a burrito and a cup of coffee…delicious.
From there we backtracked to Escalante and took a 50-mile gravel/dirt road through the Dixie National Forest, ending up close to our campground.
Paria Guest Ranch
We packed up at our campground in Bryce Canyon City and headed 12 miles west on Highway 12. In bits and pieces, we have now traveled the entire length of the scenic byway that the Utah tourism department calls the most beautiful highway in Utah. Now that is saying something! Fourteen percent grades on skinny summits at 11,000 feet, gorgeous rock formations of every shape and color, just magnificent. At the end of Highway 12 we turned left on Highway 89 that took us south and a little west, then northeast, and then southeast to out next destination, Paria Guest Ranch, roughly midway between Kanab and Page, about a quarter mile from the edge of nowhere. Every morning I took Jack off leash to run and explore among the sage, rocks, and red soil.
Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument
Just a few miles north and a tad west of the Ranch was yet another national monument. Again, magnificent scenery.
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
As you go south from the ranch on unpaved roads you head into Arizona, into the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, ho, hum…
Hey! I am finally back shooting old trucks! Here are three beauties.
Hot and dusty, but a wonderful journey. See you next time.
Leaving Zion we toured through Hurricane, skirted around the Kaibab Tribal Lands, went by beautiful Lake Powell close to Page Arizon, and then through Kayenta to our campground at Gouldings Campground Monument Valley.
We took an afternoon trip to scope out our planned trip to the Monument Valley Navajo Tribe Park. As we were heading home, Jan spotted a wild goat eating weeds along the road. Here is a picture of the handsome critter.
The next morning we were up super early, hoping to watch the stars. However, clouds stopped that plan, but those same clouds helped shape the colors of a gorgeous sunrise.
Monument Valley is the location of many John Ford westerns, including John Wayne’s breakthrough role in the 1939 movie “Stagecoach.” As a youngster I recall many a-time watching this and other westerns in black-and-white on a little TV in the living room with my dad. Monument Valley was often the background for the action. As one gazes out at the horizon you can almost see the dust rising from the rumbling wagons, smell the sweat from the galloping horses, sense the pilgrim fear that Apaches were right around the next rock with knives in hand, greedy for scalps. This is how the Old West is supposed to be! Wonderful place.
The same day of our visit to Monument Valley, we drove up 163 through Mexican Hat and Bluff into Blue Mountain RV Park in Blanding. After settling in, we took an hour trip to visit Natural Bridges National Monument. On an uncrowded road, we took the scenic tour stopping to walk and view the three natural bridges (formed by water erosion, not arches, which are formed by wind erosion). Here is a photo of one of the bridges.
Back to Colorado
We continued north on 163 to 191 and headed past Canyon Lands National Park and Arches National Park near Moab. We hooked up to I-70, spent the night near Breckingridge at Tiger Run RV Resort, and then continued east the next day to our destination at Chatfield State Park.
Busy, but fun!
Here are a couple of pup pics.
Here is an old sign
Here are four old trucks.
See you soon.