First Time at Gooseneck State Park

Our next major stop in Utah was the Monument Valley area, which we had actually seen a little bit of before.  When our kids were young we took them on a trip to Las Vegas with my Mom, and one day we rented a car and drove round-trip to the Grand Canyon and we tacked on a fast trip to Monument Valley.  Lee loves westerns, and some of the most iconic views from those movies are in the monument itself.  We all had a wonderful time and took some wonderful pictures, the best of which was each of our girls sitting on a horse on a plateau, and I treasure those pictures to this day.

Kyrston/Sis at Monument Valley (K1, for our friends)

 

Katlyn/Katy/Kat at Monument Valley (K2 for our friends)

 

Kassidy/Kasey/Kay at Monument Valley (K3 for our friends)

 

What we didn’t get to do, not uncommon in those days of traditional vacations, was get to see anything but the park itself.  We knew from talking to our friends that there was much more to see, so we scheduled a full five days to finally explore the area.

Almost everyone knows that iconic shot from Forest Gump where he is running down the road with the stone formations  near the entrance to Monument Valley. Lee wanted to get some video of us walking down that road, but unfortunately we were coming from the south which was the wrong direction.  It was also a pretty cloudy day, and since we knew we would be coming back this way several times, decided to wait until another day.  There are several large pull-offs along the road and we saw plenty of people had stopped, so we definitely could have if we wanted to.

Iconic Monument Valley sight as seen from the “wrong side”

 

Beautiful views along the road

Those crowds cleared as we headed north and the road got much more challenging.  There were several 6-8% grades, which included one particularly challenging one near Mexican Hat that was a 10% grade with a hard right at the end at a solid wall of rock.  Yikes!!  Lee handled it like a champ and very soon we were headed onto Highway 261, which is the road Gooseneck State Park is off of.  The road has some scary warning signs when you turn onto it stating that it was not recommended for RV’s greater than 10,000 GVWR, but we knew that the warnings were for the Moki Dugway which was several miles beyond the turnoff to Gooseneck.

This was the road with the 10% grade and hard right at the end. The yellow sign down by one of the inns in Mexican Hat is where the road turns.

 

Wild Horses along the road

 

And more beautiful outcroppings

 

Entrance to Goosenecks

(For those interested, here’s a video showing the drive from the beginning of the road to Goosenecek to the entrance, without pulling the rig. The video is just under 5 minutes, but it takes longer when pulling a rig. I’ve included it because some people like to know what the approach will look like. I had read it was really steep, and it was not. There are a few gentle grades, and some somewhat tight curves, but overall it was’t bad. Keep in mind the Go Pro’s super wide view tends to make grades and curves look like less than they are. – Lee)

Once we reached the gate we talked to a very nice parks employee who allowed us to park our rig and take a walk around before deciding whether or not to stay the night.  Unfortunately many state parks will not allow you to do this, but Gooseneck is a very informal place.  It is mostly a day use park ($5 per car entrance fee) and only has a few established camping spots.  That being said, there is a huge area farther down a dirt road, where several rigs could fit, and after walking the path and a ton of discussion about where we wanted to be, we finally picked our perfect spot.

Our spot

It came with picnic table, firepit, and trash can

 

Smaller rigs could park up close to the edge.  The land comes to a point as you can see to the right.

 

And there were many sites along the outer edge people we staying in, including Harry and Vicki. I just felt more comfortable in an established spot.

We walked back and paid $10 for the night and learned it was exact cash only, but thankfully with some change we had enough for that first night.  We also saw that drones were not permitted March through October and the campground had no water or fire wood, but they did have a couple of pit toilets and trash removal.  Our site was one of the established ones and also had a very nice campfire ring and picnic table, and the view of course was pretty spectacular, so we felt the price was a fair one.

The view if you walked up to the edge, which I didn’t do much.  The river is the San Juan which runs through much of this area. Muddier than the Colorado, but still pretty cool, and no crowds or long walks to see it. And there are actually two horseshoe bends, this one was a short walk to the right.

 

And we also had one directly in front of us.

 

Lee’s view from his chair

(And here’s a super quick (40 second) video showing the drive from the gate to our rig. – Lee)

 

We knew prior to arriving that our friends Harry and Vicki were staying in the same park, but since they were out exploring for the afternoon, after setting up we decided to get the lay of the land.  Usually when we hit a new area, I like to go to a BLM office, but unfortunately there wasn’t one nearby. Instead we drove down to Monument Valley in the hopes of getting some information from the visitors center.  Unfortunately you had to pay $20 to get inside, and since it was already late in the day we decided to keep going.

Next we went to a large RV park/hotel called Gouldings to see if they had information there as well.  They only had information about the tours they offered and although it was a pretty site that wasn’t really what we were looking for.

Gouldings is a large resort complex, with a museum, RV park, gift shops, restaurant, and hotel.

 

Surrounded by beautiful rocks on three sides and only a couple of miles from Monument Valley

 

We heard the campground was $60 a night, but folks we met who were staying there liked it

 

They offer monument valley open air Jeep tours, but I wouldn’t recommend them. We saw some folks on them and it was so windy and dusty they looked pretty miserable. Closed vehicle is definitely the way to go, but I’ll talk about that more in a future post.

We kept driving down Highway 163 and arrived at the Navajo Nation Welcome Center and Navajo Market.  We went into the Welcome center, which said there were maps, only to be told that we needed to pay the $20 to get a map of the area.  At this point I was pretty frustrated, so tried another approach.  What I really wanted was information on was the jeep tours, but the companies who ran the tours were inside the park.  The woman at the welcome center told me that there were always  plenty of guides and their prices varied from person to person.  I asked if I needed cash and she said yes some didn’t take cards and at that point I said could you at least give me a rough idea.  She very hesitantly said $80 -$100 a person, which at least gave me some idea how much cash to take and then sent us on our way. Update:  We ended up paying $110 cash per person for a 2-1/2 hour tour.  We took $300 cash with us just to be safe, but found out later we could have booked online.  Why this Welcome Center didn’t have an information sheet on the names, websites, and phone numbers of the companies who give the tours I have no idea. Because despite the impression I was given it absolutely was all companies and not individual freelancers giving the tours.

It was hands down the most frustrating experience at a Welcome Center I have ever had.  They had no maps, no flyers, no information at all.  What they did have was a very small museum, a conference center that the tribe uses, and one person sitting behind the desk who wasn’t able to provide us with much information.  Thank heavens a few days later we discovered a visitors center in Bluff that had lots of great information.   We also learned from our friend Cori that many of the jeep tour companies have websites. I swear I was extremely polite, no clue why the Welcome Center was so unwelcoming.

After the Welcome Center experience,  we decided to just head back to the RV.  Since it was a beautiful night, we invited Harry and Vicki down for a campfire and had a wonderful conversation that covered a variety of topics. You know it was good because Lee and I stayed up way past our normal bed time 🙂  It was a great end to the day and after talking to them, I was really excited about exploring the area.

From left: Me, Lee, Harry, and Vicki

(And here’s one more video driving from our rig, which was in one of the very first sites inside the campground, to Harry and Vicky’s rig, which was quite a bit farther in. Again, this is to give you some idea of the sites and the condition of the road. It gets significantly tighter and bumpier past where this video ends. – Lee)

 

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

Getting the Iconic Horseshoe Bend Picture

There are several pictures that I consider iconic in the RV lifestyle, you know the pictures that you see on Facebook and people’s blogs that initially make you want to live this lifestyle, and we have been lucky enough to gather several of those in our travels.  We stood on the corner in Winslow, Arizona, camped at City of Rocks, and saw the church in the rocks at Sedona. Generally what I have found though when taking those pictures, is there is a story behind the picture, and Horseshoe Bend is no exception.  So if you want to maintain your illusion that this was an easy picture to take, I will start with the best of the ones we took and you can stop right here.  Or, if you are a person who likes knowing what you are getting into, you probably should read on.

This was my favorite picture of the day because you can see how close I was to the ledge and I loved the wake of the speedboat in the lower left corner

Horseshoe Bend is near Page on 89 and there are actually a couple of scenic view stops along the way.   There is a huge wide gravel lot big enough to fit any rig near the dam and it’s an easy in and out to take a peek of both that and the Colorado River.  Since we just had the truck on Sunday, we decided to stop at a smaller scenic view sign and ended up walking down a path to a lookout location.  I say path, but that is an exaggeration, because the route was a combination of a few carved stairs and terraced rock with a hand rail that led down to the viewing platform. It was STEEP going down and more so coming up, and I am not 100% sure it was actually worth it.  There are electrical lines obscuring all of the views and although the river was pretty I definitely think there are better places to view the river from.

The “path” down to the lookout point.  I used the handrails almost the entire way down.

 

Views of the dam

Here’s the view of the Colorado river, with the power lines.  I only point it out because it was a really steep to get down there.

And here’s the same picture with the power lines removed. I also threw in some color enhancement.

 

Going up was really steep as you can see.

After that stop we headed to Horseshoe Bend and into the big parking lot.  It’s worth mentioning that traffic was being directed while we were there because the police were still dealing with the wreckage of a very nasty accident that took place right outside of the parking lot.  The pull off is right off 89 and there is a small hill in one direction that obscures the view.  There were four crosses in that spot as well, so it was obvious this was an area where accidents had occurred before.  Just be super  careful when pulling in and out.  On the plus side, the parking lot was really large, and despite the huge crowd we were able to quickly find a spot.  There are even spaces for tour buses and a few RV’s although I am not sure I would chance trying to stop there in my rig.  I was also happy to see several very nice pit toilets and they were stocked and well maintained.

View of the parking lot. It was 2:30pm on a Sunday, we did see it less crowded at other times during the week.  It also looked like they were expanding it.

 

Several well-maintained pit toilets.

 

As someone who has cleaned these toilets I found this sign pretty interesting. I would love to say it is overkill, but I have actually seen evidence of all these behaviors. I even sent this to my boss in Oregon, part as a joke and part as a possible suggestion.

 

This was the hill I thought we had to climb

 

But when we got to the hill this is what we saw

 

And then had to walk down to the big hole.  Going down not so bad…coming up..whew.

The worst part of the hike is you can’t see anything but a hole in the ground until you are right on top of it.  They are doing construction on the site, so that may change in the future, but currently the only way to get the picture that is in your mind is to walk right up to the cliff edge.  And it is a CLIFF!  1,000 foot straight drop down and no handrails of any kinds.  I am not crazy about heights, but can handle them if I have something to hold onto, but that was definitely not going to happen here.  It is also important to note that there are only a few spaces on the cliff where you can see both sides of the river and those places were the most congested.  Generally people were polite, taking turns, but the crowded feel definitely didn’t help me feel more comfortable.

Lee, of course, was scampering about without a care in the world, but I struggled. (I’m pretty sure footed. I hardly ever fall down. I did have some concerns about the hordes of people who didn’t seem to be aware there were people close to them. There was a lot of backing up and turning quickly, and I had to keep a close eye on them to avoid being knocked in an unwelcome direction.  Anyway, it’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop. I believe medical professionals would call it “deceleration trauma”. I just think of it as rock poisoning. In any case you usually can’t get the shot you want from a safe distance. Except for bears. I would photograph bears from space. – Lee)   I would walk as close to the edge as I could stand and take a picture (the one at the beginning was taken that way) but no matter how many spots I tried I couldn’t get the entire bend in the river.  That was frustrating me, so finally  I bit the bullet and crawled on my belly to the hang the camera over the edge of the cliff.  I had it tightly strapped to my body and I was terrified, but I wanted to get the shot, except it turned out I couldn’t.  No matter how many ways I positioned the camera I couldn’t get both the entire river and the outcropping and it was really frustrating.  Plus I was really fighting my fear, so eventually I slunk back and went to see how Lee was doing.

Picture to the left

Picture to the right. Steve says I should learn how to merge two shots together to get the whole thing, but I think they should just build me a viewing platform 🙂

 

While I was hanging over I was able to get a better shot of the boat which I liked

 

Here’s the best I could do hanging over the edge.  And yes I know it’s a pretty great pic.  But if you are going to walk down a steep trail, fight crowds, deal with sandy wind, and crawl on your belly to the edge of a 1,000 foot drop off, you want the perfect pic. At least I do.

Lee had his iPhone and his selfie stick which enabled him to get some height on his shots.  He couldn’t get the entire river either though (which oddly made me feel better), but he did insist on taking a few selfies.  In order to get yourself and the water in the shot, you need to get pretty close to the edge, and we took the pictures, but you can tell by the strained look around my eyes, that I had had enough.  I am really happy that he got the panoramic view though, which was really terrific.  I have photoshopped out the people in the picture and that turned out very well.

Lee’s best shot with my camera

 

Lots of guys were taking this picture with their very pretty girlfriends. I liked the concept of the pic, but not so much where I had to sit to get it.  I think the expression on my face says it all.

 

His shot with the selfie stick was pretty good.  Just a tiny section of the river at the bottom cut off.

 

And a fantastic panoramic view

At this point I was more than ready to go, and although I was glad I had checked seeing it off my list, I just couldn’t really enjoy the views the way it was all laid out.  As we trudged back up the hill I was arguing with myself a bit about being such a chicken, until I stopped and read this sign that said the cliffs were sandstone and you should absolutely not walk out on the edge.  Ha!! The sign validated that I was being smart, not a big chicken, although if they don’t want you to walk out on the edge they really need to provide an alternative, because you really can’t see unless you are very close.

When we were headed back, I was was still trying to get over my feelings about the whole experience when Lee recommended the Chinese buffet in Page.  That man really knows me, and I had a huge plate of mediocre, yet extremely satisfying Chinese food to take the edge off. That helped me feel much better, and we headed back to our RV to look at the pictures, which were much better than I thought they would be when I previewed them at the site.

 

Monday we finally took the day off, and I wanted to talk to you a little about the blogging.  The richness of the experiences we are having is a tremendous blessing, but it has generated a ton of work in the form of writing blogs, choosing and enhancing pictures, and in Lee’s case, creating videos.  There was no way I could keep the blogs relatively up to date and still provide the level of detail I like to have, so pretty early on I had to make a choice.  I decided to focus on creating the blogs I wanted to have at the end of this and worry less about the time frame they were posted in. Consequently, although you are seeing a blog post every two days (sometimes more frequently) we are still posting in arrears and I think the delay will get worse as the month progresses.  On the plus side though,  I should have posts to carry me through the first couple of weeks at my summer job, which is a good thing as I am not sure how much time (or content) I will have when the new job starts. (To give you a more clear idea of how this is working, the Horseshoe Bend pictures were taken April 8, and this post is scheduled to be published around April 23. – Lee)

And for those of you who are curious about how I can keep up the blogging and still enjoy the experiences (I get that question a lot) I wanted to take just a moment to describe the process.  Most blog posts take me an hour to write, and then Lee takes about 20 minutes editing and proof reading.  Picture heavy posts are a whole different thing as we generally take 300-500 pictures on one of our scenic trips/hikes.  I dump the pictures onto the PC, and then look at every one, selecting a first cut for the blog or Facebook.  I always put my favorites in the blog, but there are generally really good second tier shots and I make albums for my friends there.   At this point I usually have about 60 photos per blog post which I put into photoshop and look at one-by-one. In the case of duplicates I choose the best and send the others to Facebook and then I am left with about 40 or so to work with.

My pictures fall into two categories, the ones for plot exposition (signs, informational placards, parking lots, restaurants interior/exteriors, etc. ).  Those I do a quick check and crop out anything that doesn’t belong and then save them.  That leaves me with about 20 pictures that get the “royal treatment”.  I crop them, add contrast, use the eraser to remove lens spots or people, and then add saturation to the color to the point where it looks like what I saw, but no so much it looks cartoonish or fake.  Those all take a while and when they are all done, I upload them to WordPress.  Then I start to write, and I use the pictures as my guide, adding information as much as possible to the pictures themselves.  As I am building the narrative, I lose some more pictures (many good ones), because they are too repetitive, don’t fit the story, or simply make the whole post so long it is ridiculous.  If I absolutely can’t bear to lose the pictures, occasionally I will take one long day and break it up into two posts.  I try not to do that very often, but sometimes the situation just calls for it, and it works if we do two very different things in the morning and afternoon. (For what it’s worth, I think there’s no such thing as too many pictures. People can scroll past them if they don’t want to look at them, and people who do want to see them can enjoy them. I’m talking to you, Mom! – Lee)

Once all that is done, Lee does his edit, and on occasion, inserts video.  Video content is not something I ever request from him, but what he does when he feels creative.  Taking the video is generally easy for him, but the editing, rendering, and subsequent uploads can take hours.  Some of that time he can walk away from the computer, but it needs to be on and running and since we are boondocking that means we need to be with the rig.  All of that being said, this is how we choose to capture our experiences, but there are times were the workload gets overwhelming and I start to feel the pressure of “being behind.”  What I have done to mitigate that on this trip is to take notes on my phone about the experience and I am using them to help me remember details when I write the posts.  I am also grouping the pictures by event, to help make sure I don’t unintentionally put a picture from one area into another post (it happens when landscapes are similar) and I am spending most of our off time plugging away at it.  Lee has been terrific about this, by the way, doing laundry, going to the store, and other household tasks to give me more time, and as of this writing I am caught up with posts, as of yesterday.  There are 7 of them currently sitting in the “draft” status, waiting for Lee to finish the final edit and/or add video. That’s 14 days worth of posts (with an every other day release schedule) and since we just started Monument Valley,  I may start releasing them more frequently. We will just see how it goes.

Knowing all of that it is probably not surprising to you that I spent my first “day off” in the 8 days since we started Utah in blogging related activities.  I did stop around 4:00pm though and cleaned the house because The Chouters were coming down.  They were staying at the same campground we were, and although we had been in contact throughout the week, we hadn’t had a chance to meet up.  We had a wonderful time talking about how things had gone for each other all week and they gave us some great information about out next stop in Monument Valley.  I also really enjoyed spending one-on-one time with them and getting to know them better.  Steven even took a great picture of our rig as we left the campground, which I really appreciated.  Hopefully we will get to see them again in Washington State this summer, and even if we don’t I know we will definitely see them down the road.

From Left: Steve, Lee, me, and Linda

 

Picture of us leaving Lone Rock Beach Primitive Campground.  It really was a great boondocking spot.

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

First Time on The Toadstool Hike

Saturday night we experienced our first big storm in Utah and it was a doozy. High winds, lightning, and rain combined to make a serious little squall and I had to say I was a little nervous.  We had positioned ourselves up on the cliff rather than down on the beach itself and we saw lots of people moving away from the sandier shore when the storm was coming.  Relatively easy to move quickly in a Class A or Class C but since it was evening and it takes us longer to hitch we decided to ride it out.  And it turned out to be OK for us, although I had this fear the wind would push us over into the deep ravine next to us.  Lee and I talked about it a little bit, but he felt pretty confident we would be OK, because, well, physics.

I have to say I really wish I would have taken physics in high school and college, because unlike calculus, physics related questions do come up rather frequently in life.  I am sure there is a formula for how much wind it would take to push us over, and I would love to be able to do the math ourselves. I found a formula online, but have no idea if it is accurate, but it sounds good. We should probably have Bill do the math and see what he thinks!

V = SQRT(W*b/{0.00666*l*(h-h2/2)*(h/2+h2/4)})

where
V = wind speed, mph
W = trailer weight, lbs
b = trailer width (tire center-center), ft
l = trailer length, ft
h = trailer height (from ground), ft
h2 = tire height, ft

I also found a study done by Thomas W. Schmidlin and Barbara O. Hammer of Kent State University called “Wind Speeds Required to Upset Vehicles” where they concluded that a stationary high profile vehicle could be flipped with 95 mph wind.  This study was primarily about tornado winds and is an older study, but sounded about right to me.  The thing is though that I know lots of people who pull their slides in during heavy winds, but we have only done that once and I am not sure what effect (if any) having the slides out would have.  Most people pull in their slides because they have slide toppers to worry about in high winds, but we intentionally didn’t buy those and I have to say I am really glad we didn’t.  We rarely stay in places where we are under heavy tree cover, and except for one brief stint in the Redwoods have never felt their lack.

Anyway, I am going down a rabbit hole here.  The main point is it was a somewhat brief but turbulent storm and we rode it out just fine thankfully.  One thing that was was really unusual though is the smell the rain produced.  The hills and sand here are red because of heavy iron content and that smell was really strong right before and right after the storm.  I’ve never smelled anything quite like it, and since it was dark by the time the storm passed we couldn’t see the impact on the sand until the next morning.  That also turned out to be just fine.  The sand was definitely softer in places, and we probably wouldn’t have driven far on dirt roads, but it wasn’t the muddy mess I was worried about.  And since it turned out to be a brilliant blue sky day we decided to go ahead and do the Toadstool Hike.

The Toadstool Hike trailhead is right off of 89 and is roughly in the middle between Kanab and Page.  It is a 1.5 mile round trip hike, up to a plateau with Toadstool shaped rocks.  Since our friend Cori had recommended the hike I was eager to go, but once again I underestimated how rough the terrain would be, and left my hiking poles at home.  The trip started out OK, with a relatively big parking lot and a nice flat walk to the toadstools which we could see in the distance.  The problem was the initial trail was a little washed out and although walking on the dirt was just fine we weren’t 100% which way to go and ended up veering right when we should have stayed to the left.  That little walk was actually really pretty (the colors really popped after the storm washed the dust off of things the previous night), but we kept moving away from where I knew the rocks were, and after about a half mile I told Lee I wasn’t going any further in that direction and we had to turn around.

The view from the trailhead

 

Rocks we saw on the wrong path

 

This formation was up on a cliff and absolutely stunning

Once we got back to the left we found what we thought was the path and started watching for trail markers.  There are more of them the closer you get to the Toadstools, but in the beginning it was still a bit confusing.  Plus the path is quite a bit steeper than I expected, staying out of the wash (which was good because it was a little muddy), but also going up and down several little hills.  Finally we turned a corner and could clearly see the major toadstool formation and we saw the steepish climb that was required at the end. At this point I was more tired than I expected to be and was dreading that climb a little bit, but since we saw many people older than us walking the trail, I took a few deep breaths and we kept going.

 

We found this trail marker and started really paying attention to the arrows

 

The cliffs on our left were beautiful

 

That reddish rock in the top middle was where we were headed

 

Once we reached the top though it was totally worth it.  The toadstools were indeed really cool, but we actually enjoyed the cliff walls even more.  There were huge shallow areas that had been carved by the wind, and they reminded me of pictures I had seen of Egypt with similar spaces that had giant statues in them. We ended up spending a long time up on the plateau and loved every minute of it.  Coming back down was much easier than going up had been and we both agreed it was totally worth it.

Main toadstool formation

 

The cap

 

I climbed up on the rocks and Lee took a picture

 

There was another smaller set of toadstools behind the first one which I loved and we weren’t fighting crowds to take a picture

 

The plateau with a beautiful rock formation in the distance

 

Lee of course had to walk over there

 

And then right up the path to the top.  It was beautiful, but I decided to pass on the last little bit because it looked a little narrow for me.

 

Really amazing cliff walls

 

Our favorite was this heart shaped one which we walked inside

 

Looked up to see the ledges

 

And found this little rock couch inside the cave

 

I really loved the entire time we spent up there, because you really couldn’t take a bad picture.  I do wish I would have brought my hat though because it was full sun and was warm in those areas where the wind was blocked.  I have rarely seen Lee that happy.  He was climbing on rocks, getting way too close to the edge (in my opinion), and we took over 400 pictures.  It was just the type of interactive nature that we both love, and was a great hike for that reason if not for the trail itself.

Lee walking down to these circular rocks

 

Me sitting in the front middle to give you scale. Although there were other people there the place was so big we often felt alone as you can see by the distance of the group of four walking in the background

 

I was in full on photographer mode and Lee was having such a good time he didn’t mind me constantly taking his picture.

 

One of Lee’s favorite formations were these “elephant toes”.  If you scroll in on the picture the look on his face is blissful.  That’s not a common expression for him.

 

And look at his smile when he found this huge rock chair.  So cute.

The way back was much easier, because we knew where we were going and we paid more attention to the trail signs.  I really recommend this hike (just stay to the left) especially if you want to spend a little time in Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument but don’t have a ton of time.

The view on the way back was really nice and the color of the hills really popped after the rain.

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

First Time On Cottonwood Canyon Road

We are huge fans of scenic drives, and we are very big fans of the National Monuments/Parks that aren’t visited as much, so when we heard from Cori about Cottonwood Road we absolutely knew that was something we wanted to do.  We talked to a couple of BLM offices about whether we could do the road without four-wheel drive and when they both said yes (as long as it was dry), we headed off down the road, with a packed lunch and a list of things to see that was provided by the BLM.  Some of the things I will mention are on that sheet, but others we stumbled across on our own.

We had a wonderful day, so I am going to provide a visual tour of what we saw and did, and if you reset your tripodometer when you enter the road from Highway 89 these mile markers should be pretty close.  As an FYI, we started the road at 10:11am, made the roundtrip drive with multiple stops and one 3 mile hike, and still were finished by 4:30pm.  That being said this is an isolated road and before heading out check your tires and bring water and some snacks just in case.

Grand Staircase is really huge. I highlighted out route in green so you can see how deep we were able to go into the park

It’s 40 miles to Kodachrome Basin State Park, where the road is again paved and we turned around and started back. You can start this route from the north and come the other way, which I would actually recommend if you only want to see the arch, but there’s a lot to see on this gorgeous drive no matter how you do it.

MM 3.5 – Our first stop along the route was some prehistoric oyster beds that were over 93 million years old.  Look for low cliffs of sandstone and get out and walk across, and then you can see (and touch) the fossilized oysters.  For many people this wouldn’t be a big deal, but I loved touching something that was verified to be so old.

These are pretty low profile and easy to miss so keep an eye on your odometer

The oyster beds are pretty near the road

 

 

I definitely should say that the road, although challenging, wasn’t even close to the worst we have been on.  It was  smooth in several places with patches of washboard, but only a few deep ruts. I actually found the steep climbs and dips the most scary, but Lee loved them, and our truck handled them like a champ.

The scenery kept changing as we drove, which I loved.

MM 7.4 –  We took a short road to the see big boulders and a huge rock with a table on the backside.   Lee noticed that it looked a little bit like a fifth wheel so he moved the truck and we took a picture.

Love me a big rock!

This is what you see from the road and check out our new Flintstones fifth wheel 🙂

MM 7.6 – You start to see the Pariah river off to the left.  It was a muddy little creek when we were there, but there was enough water for a small group of cows to hang out.  Plus lots of vegetation.

MM 14.2- There are two trailheads hereHackberry canyon on the left and Big Yellow Rock on the right.  Big Yellow Rock is a “strenuous climb” according to our paper, and looked like it might be right up our friend Deb’s alley! I should also mention that electric power lines were along the road we were driving for the first 25 miles or so.  In places I got out to walk a bit and take a pic and the ground had lots of snake holes in it.  We didn’t see a snake all day, but were constantly on the lookout, so I ultimately took the pictures and photoshopped out the lines, when I wanted to.  I did leave them in though in a few pictures so you could see.

Big Yellow Rcok on the left you can see the power lines that ran along the road

Beautiful rock and I photoshopped the power lines out of this pic

Loved the thick strip in this rock too and I walked out into the field to get this pic without the power lines.  I think this was at MM 15.6

MM 19–  On the left there was this huge purple and white rock.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it before.  Then we came up over a hill and we saw an incredibly neat cloud formation that looked like a UFO hanging over the valley.  I’ve done my best to capture that moment, but it looked much better in person.

If anyone knows what this rock is please let me know

Definitely felt like I was in a sci-fi movie for a moment

The cool landscape helped with that feeling

MM 24.4- This is the Cottonwood Narrows south entrance which we went into and MM 25.4 is the north entrance.  I would actually recommend going in at the north entrance and I’ll tell you why later in the post.  The hike is 1.5 miles long (each way) through the canyon, or 1 mile if you walk back on the road. It is a narrow canyon so you may want to time the hike when you will get good light, but we chose to do it at the end and it was still very pretty.  Near the north entrance you go up a hill and see some of the most amazing scenery I ever ever seen on one of these scenic drives.  The landscape makes a change and it truly looked like a fairyland or ogre land as Lee thought of it.  Fantastical!

This is what the outside of the canyon looked like. There was a long stretch on the left with this landscape

This is the hill right before the scenery changed

And this is what we saw

Stunning

It was a short little section of road but what a delightful surprise

MM 28.9-  This is the turnoff for Grosvenors arch, and we arrived at 12:06, just in time for lunch.  Thankfully the road quality was the same as the other road we were on, but it would be worth the 1 mile hike there if it wasn’t.  There are a couple of picnic tables and a pit toilet at the location, but I would definitely recommend bringing your own toilet paper because it was out when we got there.  It is a short walk up a paved path to a great viewing area or you can go farther and walk right up to the arch itself. At 152 feet I really didn’t understand exactly how big it was, and the views changed the closer you got.  This was our first experience with a large stone arch like this and what a wonderful one to start with.

This is the picnic table we ate at

This is a double arch

Looking up at the arch

Looking up at the arch

Lee’s pic

Lee’s pic

The arch had layers with different colors which surprised me

Every view was different and it was hard to select just a few to post here. This was one of my favorites because of the dead tree in the foreground. I was going to make it black and white but didn’t want to lose that bright blue sky.   Really special place to take pictures.

 


MM 40ish
– After leaving the arch, we drove another 12 miles to Kodachrome Basin State Park (if you are using your tripometer don’t forget you just put a couple extra miles on going to the arch)  The traffic did get a little heavier in this section since many people were coming south from the park to see the arch.  Originally we were planning on paying the $8 and driving into the park, but the attendant said it was a really small park and in order to see it you really needed to do a hike.  Since we were planning on doing the canyon on the way back we decided to just head back, but I did put the park on my list of places to stay and we will try and go there and do a hike while we are in the Bryce area.

Nice views from here of the Kodachrome Basin

On the way back we stopped at the Cottonwood canyon and although the hike was one of the best we have ever been on it was much harder physically than we expected.  Part of the problem was walking in sand in many sections and another problem was piles of rock we had to clamber over at both ends. You decide for yourself if it was worth it though, and if nothing else I recommend starting at the north entrance and walking at least to the arch if you don’t feel you can do the whole thing.  The best part was on a Sunday we only saw three other single hikers, and it really felt like we had the place all to ourselves.

South Entrance

Pretty major rock pile near the entrance. We chose to go around on the right, but it was still tough

The path was a mixture of sand in rock in the toughest places, but some section were just sand, which in a way was harder to walk in.

Lots of places with these little holes that Lee really liked

We saw a tiny arch high up pretty close to the south entrance

There was a turnoff to the left about a half mile in that led to an amazing slot that was a dead end. Lee took my picture pointing to the way back to the entrance which I thought was really smart

This was one of the coolest things we saw. Beautiful in there, and very private.

Not too long after that (sorry we aren’t good at judging distances on hikes) we saw a huge arch

After the arch the canyon got narrower

And the path was a little more challenging in sections although it was very neat to walk on.  Just had to be careful.

There was another pile of rocks close to the north entrance, we managed to get around

This isn’t as steep as it looks, actually the path was mostly flat which is why we walked both ways in the canyon instead of taking the shorter (but steeper) path on the road. I think this would make for a cool picture when the light was coming in.

Check me out Deb…I’m hiking!!

When we reached the end we turned around and headed back and although it was a long walk back, there were some different views.

I would absolutely recommend the road and if you are able take the hike.  It’s rough in places, but completely worth it.  We loved the day and are definitely adding this to our list of favorite, remote scenic roads.  I would like to go again and explore some of the other slot canyons and maybe take the half day hike to a 120 foot waterfall.  Definitely stop at the Big Water BLM office and get information before you go, and don’t forget to take plenty of water and snacks just in case.  Oh, and one last thing.  This whole day only cost us a quarter tank of gas and an inexpensive packed lunch.  I really don’t think it can get better than this 🙂

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

First Time on Highway 89A

When we get to a new area we like to get the lay of the land, and scenic drives, along with visits to local BLM offices, are a perfect way for us to do that.  In order to accomplish both of these things I put together a route along 89 to Kanab, and then down to 89A, and back to Page that I knew would take a while, but seemed a nice way to scout out the area.  Since both of these roads are scenic drives on the atlas I figured we couldn’t go wrong, plus I knew there were at least two BLM offices along the route.

Loved the big caves at the top of this one. You can see how tall it was from the fence posts at the bottom.

The first BLM office was near Big Water and actually had a very cool little dinosaur museum.  The woman on duty was extremely helpful, talking us through various roads on our map and recommending other places.  Because we don’t have four-wheel drive we wanted to double check with the BLM before using any of the side roads that we had read about in our friends blog.  They all have four-wheel drive so it’s less of an issue for them, but we wanted to double check before trying them out.  I’m really glad that we did that because she absolutely did not recommend two of the four roads we were thinking about driving, and gave us good advice on another.  She was very matter-of-fact about the whole thing and absolutely credible which we really appreciated.  We like to explore off the beaten track, but also understand how important it is to be careful, especially in desert terrain.  Plus I really enjoyed the dinosaur museum because it  turns out that a unique specimen of dinosaur was found in the Grand-Escalante Staircase.  I had no idea!

BLM office near Big Water

Really great skulls

The Diabloceratops (great name) was discovered in Grand Staircase -Escalante Monument

This whole area was full of Ceratopsians

We continued the drive to Kanab and also visited the BLM office there.  This is the office where the lottery for the Wave hike takes place, and I really wanted to ask some questions about the process.  I apologized in advance for asking her the same question she must answer 100 times a day, but she was more than happy to talk to us about it.  The way it works is each day there are 10 permits issued in person for the wave, and 10 online permits (which people register for 4 months in advance).  That is only 20 people a day who are permitted to go to the wave and since people go in groups sometimes only a few group permits are issued.  You show up at 8:30am (Utah time), fill out a form with yourself and your party and by 9am they draw numbers.  If the first application has 10 people on it, they are done.  If it has less then they draw again until the 10 spots are full.  Sounds easy enough, but 236 people had showed up that morning for the 10 spots, and that’s in early April. Those are not good odds.  Add to that if you stay in Page it’s a solid hour drive to Kanab every day and it gets complicated.  Our friend Howard though was determined, and he managed to get a permit, so if you would like to read about his experience (and why people are willing to go to such lengths to do it) click here.

The drive to Kanab on 89 was pretty and we passed through a tiny section of Vermilion Cliffs Monument.

The other big attraction in this area is Antelope Canyon.  There are some pretty iconic pictures that come from that beautiful canyon, but because it is on Navajo land you need to experience it via a tour.  There are several options ranging from a $41 quick tour to a $250 photographers only 4 hour tour, and we looked at several when we arrived.  The money was a factor, of course, but more than that was the variability of the experience.  Sunlight comes through the canyon between 10:30 and 2:00 so those are peak times, but that’s also when it is the most crowded (generally 70 people per basic tour).  I was attracted to the idea of a 6:30am tour that was billed as a more spiritual experience, but still wasn’t sure which way I wanted to go.  And of course the photographers tour would be amazing, but that’s $500 for the two of us, and basically you spend that time getting 8 really good pictures.  Finally I decided that since I couldn’t decide, we wouldn’t do it this trip.  I wanted to spend the month in Utah and see what else it had to offer, before deciding which tour I want to do (if any).

To that end I researched other slot canyons in the area and saw a place called Red Canyon or Peek-A-Boo.  At first it was a little confusing because there are actually two peek-a-boo canyons.  The one near Kanab is pretty small, and 4-1/2 miles down an ATV/Jeep trail.  At first I thought we could walk it, but the sand is very deep so then we looked into renting a Jeep.  It was $148 a day for a 2001 and although I thought that was a decent price, neither one of us has any experience driving a Jeep in deep sand, so weren’t sure about that. Then I looked into getting a mini-tour and ended up talking to a very nice guy at Windows of the West Hummer Tours.  For $99 per person you got a three hour tour and he was willing to go with as little as two people.  He was super nice and has great reviews, but once again I was thinking of cost and how much of Utah we have left.  We definitely want to take a jeep tour in Monument Valley and the other Peek-a-boo canyon may also need a jeep, so at the end of the day I filed that away for our next visit to Page.  Lee was OK with doing that because we are absolutely coming back, and along with those other experiences we also want to take the 6-1/2 hour boat ride up Lake Powell to see the Rainbow Bridge.  ($122 a person).  Lots to do here, and much of it costs money, so we need to come back with a plan and a budget rather than just spend money willy nilly and regret it later. Besides, there’s PLENTY to do without spending a fortune. (Look at us, adulting all over the place. – Lee)

We stopped in this visitor center in Kanab and got information about local tours. The folks there were very helpful

After getting information we headed onto 89A to see what we could do for free in the area.  I’ll be honest, the first part of the drive wasn’t very scenic and I was definitely wondering what all the fuss was about.  It got a little better when we hit the Kaibab National Forest and stopped at Le Fevre overlook for a scenic view.  This landscape though was much like others we had seen before around Flagstaff and we were looking for something more unique.  The temperature did drop 15 degrees when we hit 7,000 feet and we saw the sign for the Grand Canyon North Rim but it was still closed for the winter.  Not sure why, since there were only tiny patches of snow left, but we kept on driving and eventually headed back to lower elevation.  Lee did like the road very much, and coming down he said it looked like a car commercial, and then as soon as we left Kaibab we entered another section of The Vermillion Cliffs Monument.

Le Fevre Stop

Beautiful lookout

The view was hazy but vast

Kaibab National Forest

Lee driving down into the Vermillion Cliffs Monument. He was having a good time

The Vermillion Cliffs were really red and we kept seeing signs for Cliff Dwelling.  I thought this was ancient ruins, but it was actually a really cute little town and we ended up buying diesel there for only $3.19, which was cheaper than many other places we had seen.  I should also mention that although it was 85 degrees it was perfectly comfortable in a T-Shirt and jeans and the nice breeze really made for the perfect day.

The views were stunning

Great place to stop and get gas

Smells from the restaurant were yummy, but we had eaten lunch so kept driving

There was a little area in cliff dwellings that had rocks and some Navajo had set up a little stand

In general I am very disappointed in the jewelry I have seen because it looks very similar to what you can buy anywhere else

This little rock house was very neat

Loved the inside

 

A second rock house

 

The inside

Loved the pink sidewalks

We kept driving and saw a sign for the Navajo Bridge and without having any idea Lee turned in.  This is why you should always stop, because I had no idea that some pictures I had seen came from here.  It was such a great surprise because you can’t really see it until you walk through a little gate and we took some amazing pictures.

Navajo Bridge Visitors Venter

The view from the parking lot.  I really liked the one way sign.  It seemed to speak for the moment.

The area is named after John Doyle Lee who kept the ferry open and helped settlers reach Arizona

The bridges.  The one the left is the old one which they have turned into a walking bridge and the one on the right is the new one for cars

Ahhh the view

 

The other side

Amazing

We stopped at this Navajo craft area and they were very nice, taking the time to explain the symbolism behind designs. I purchased a christmas tree ornament for DeDe, but no pics because I want the design to be a surprise

While I shopped Lee looked at this toggle screw

And on the way back we looked at this sign. I mean seriously, who would do that?  It’s crazy high

After seeing the bridge,  we backtracked a little and went down to Lee’s  Ferry.  Again, just wow.  This is where the commercial rafting companies put in for their floats down to the Grand Canyon and we were lucky enough to see some rafts.  There is also a pretty campground in Lee’s Ferry and although most sites would be too small for us we could have fit in a few and they weren’t completely full.

The raft launch in Lee’s Ferry

View from the dock

Does not even come close to capturing how pretty it was

We drove down to the little beach area and walked a short distance to the Colorado River.

And crossed into the Grand Canyon National Park as we did so, which I thought was great.  And yes I stepped in and out saying “I am in the Grand Canyon, I am out of the Grand Canyon” because I am just that goofy!

The ripple (not big enough to be a rapid) in front of this rock is the first that the rafters going to the Grand Canyon will face

The rocks along the water were very special

And we did take a moment to drive through the campground. What a view.

It was a beautiful drive and another nice day, but this one went a little longer than I liked.  We had to stop at Walmart in Page, which was a huge supercenter and had tons of RV’s in the parking lot, but by the time we got home we were eating dinner at 8pm.  My friends are probably gasping, because they all know I would eat at 5pm every day if Lee would let me have dinner that early.  It was a good day though, and really worth it, although if I did it again, I would go on 89A through Page and stop once I reached the Kaibab Forest.

The drive back to Page was breathtaking as well

I’ve never seen a road quite like this one before


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

First Time at Lone Rock Primitive Beach Campground

By Thursday we were ready to move on to our next region, and we ran into a bit of a snag.  Originally I wanted to head straight to Bryce Canyon from Zion, but the weather forecast was for below 50 degrees every day, down in the 20’s and 30’s at night, and even worse, very windy.  So we changed our plan and were going to head to Page AZ, but I really wanted to find a place to stay closer to Kanab.  Lee was concerned there wouldn’t be enough in Kanab proper to warrant staying there and then moving on to Page, so I called Cori and confirmed there was plenty to do from there.  We’ve been “cheating off her paper” since we started this trip, but I also wanted to have the flexibility to explore options on my own as well.   The trouble was when I strike out on my own, I have to figure out where to stay, and once again I was getting conflicting reviews from Campendium.  There were lots of spots along Hancock Road near the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, but one of the reviews said they were too sandy for big rigs and another said it was fine as long as you stopped on the road and walked the site before pulling in.  We decided to check it out for ourselves, especially since it was only a couple of hours from Zion, and headed to Kanab.

First we had to dump our black and grey tanks, and fill our fresh water, so we stopped at a Chevron on 59 East that we had seen when we went to Gooseberry Mesa.  This was the first time I have ever had to find a place to dump and take on fresh water, and despite having several apps to help me it still was more difficult than I thought it would be.  The Chevron charged $7 to dump, which was fine, but then told us the water was not potable.  I am not 100% sure that was true after seeing their brand spanking new setup, but it wasn’t worth the risk for us. They also had bulk propane, which we needed, but not surprisingly there was no one there who could fill it.  This happens to us all the time. Even at truck stops that have RV lanes there is often bulk propane for sale, but nobody there trained to dispense it. By this time it was 12:30pm so we ate a quick lunch in their very large parking lot, and then got back on the road.

Along the way, near Pipe Springs Monument, we stopped at another Chevron, this one owned and operated by the local reservation.  Even though it didn’t show on any of my apps, they were fine with us filling up with water and had a nice big area on the north side of the building that we could use.  It took about a half an hour to fill the tank, because the flow rate was low, but we both felt better having water in the tank.  Now we could stop anywhere and stay, so we headed to Hancock road.

The road itself was paved, and very big-rig friendly, and the views along the way of the coral colored sand dunes were really pretty.  I wasn’t nervous going down the road, because I saw it ended at the State campground and knew if nothing else we would be able to turn around there if we needed to.  Almost from the beginning there were lots of places to boondock.  Some of the sand roads went back pretty far, and we saw several RV’s tucked back in the trees.  The views were pretty as well and I was getting pretty excited about the spot, but every time we stopped and got out and looked we could see relatively deep ruts in the sand roads.

Impossible (for me) to get the color in a picture but it was a coral pink. Lee, by the way, only saw the sand as tan colored so depending on how you perceive color it might not be this pretty.

If you own an ATV I would absolutely recommend this place. Looks like a ton of fun

 

Lee was getting concerned that I would try to push this issue, but I reassured him that I wouldn’t ask him to pull into anywhere he wasn’t comfortable with.  Unfortunately that ended up being in none of the spots, and we spent a frustrating hour stopping, getting out and looking, and then continuing to drive.  Soft sand, unlike hard packed dirt, can be a real problem with RV’s, and since we didn’t have four-wheel drive and there was no cell signal on the road, it just wasn’t worth the risk.  There was one big spot that would probably have worked near the intersection of Hancock and County Road 43, but it was full of RV’s with ATV’s and wasn’t really what we were looking for. The only cool thing about the drive is we got hit by a pink whirling dervish of sand that was at least 30 feet across.  That surprised both of us, and was really cool. The rest of the time was just frustrating though, especially because the location was perfect for what we wanted to do.

Ultimately we ended up driving all the way to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Campground and because of a cancellation they did have a spot available.  Unfortunately it was just a big parking lot, more designed for people looking to use ATVs in the park, and since we didn’t have an ATV, at $28 a night wasn’t a good bargain for us.  They were doing construction at the park, and it looked like they were putting in several rows of “proper” RV sites, with pedetals and spigots, so that’s a good sign for the future. It was pretty and I loved the coral colored sand, and I would highly recommend it if you have an ATV, but since we didn’t have one and it was around 3pm we decided to keep moving and headed towards Page.

Once we got on 89 the road was absolutely beautiful.  We crossed through the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument, The Vermillion Cliffs Monument, and the south end of Glen Canyon along the way.  It was rough driving right by that stuff without stopping to take pictures and explore, but it was getting later and I was trying to find out more about the Stateline Campground.  This is a small (and free) BLM campground right in the middle between Kanab and Page.  Unfortunately it is down a 10 mile road and once I saw how steep it was (plus dirt) I decided to not even chance it.  If we got there and the sites were too small for us, it would be a long drive back to the main road and then towards Page.

Finally we made it to Lone Rock Primitive Beach campground, and we were pretty stressed from the day.  What should have been a really mellow 3 hour drive, turned into an all day trip and neither one of us was very happy about it.  When we got into the campground we took a moment to get our bearings, and both realized we weren’t exactly sure how to proceed. It was after 5pm, so the entrance shack was unmanned, but there was a pay station that took credit cards.  The campground has fresh water, trash dumpsters, and an RV dump station near the entrance, but not clearly designated camping spots.  We paid for one night, and then drove in and after looking at the sign that read “Deep Sand-Proceed At Your Own Risk” we headed down to the beach.  There were lots of big rigs there, and a place to park higher up if you weren’t comfortable going down, but since there were several roads leading down to the beach area, we weren’t sure which way to go.  Ultimately we picked a path that looked a little rockier and more solid than soft sand, and was to the north and made it down successfully.  I am glad we went that way, because later Lee took the truck alone up a different path on the south end and almost got stuck in the softer sand.

Driving into Lone Rock

The booth which is manned mainly between 9am and 6pm as far as we could tell. Since it’s still off season it wasn’t every day

There is an automatic pay station for after hours. $14 a night, which is steep for boondocking but they do have trash, water, and a dump onsite

We went down, and most of the spots right along the water were taken, but we found a spot just a little higher up that was right across from the lone rock.  It took us a while to place ourselves just right, and to get our RV level, but when it was done we both took a breath because the spot was absolutely beautiful.

If you are not comfortable parking on the beach you can stay up here on the plateau. Our friends Linda and Steve did, and really liked the view from there

The north end of the beach is much safer for bigger rigs

We were told to stay away from the south end so we did

I will say, to be completely transparent, that someone had left a pair of shorts and some toilet paper directly in front of our site, but I put on some gloves and put it in a trashbag and then it was perfect. Despite the amount of people it was very quiet, so quiet I could even hear the beating of a crows wings in the morning.  And at night the sky was a “bowl full of stars” that completely came down to the horizon.  Breathtaking.

I circled our RV in the spot we finally chose. It looks crowded, but there was at least 4 RV lengths between us and our neighbors.

View from our rig

The cliff in the front had an inlet at the base of it and gave us some extra protection from the wind. Plus it was more rocky on the cliff than down on the beach proper.

 

So we are here and not sure how long we will stay because this area requires some research.  Unlike a National Park where the information center has everything you need, this area will require a little more time to make sure we see everything. As of this writing Lee has gone into town and is getting propane and trying to get some information about the area.  I am using this time to get caught up on the blogging so I can clear my mind of Zion and start fresh in this area.

Not surprisingly I am finding it hard to keep up, because of the amount of pictures we are taking.  I am taking Lee’s advice and going to write the narrative first, while it’s fresh in my mind, and then fill in the pictures later.  It’s not so much that I feel pressure to blog in a timely manner as I find that the more time that passes the less I can remember about the experience.  I can only hold so much in that aging brain of mine and want to capture the moment as completely as I can.  I don’t want to spend the daylight hours on that so I am taking time in the mornings and evening as I can to chip away at it.  Thankfully our solar system is working wonderfully,  and I have more than enough power to use the computer anytime I want.

Speaking of that, I want to take a moment and thank Greg of RV Solar Solutions for designing the perfect system for us.  We could never stay in places like this without our solar and I am beyond happy with the system that we have.  They are a great company and provide a great product, and yes, they are friends of ours, but I am a tough customer.  I would do it again without a second of hesitation, and highly recommend them if you want to stay in places with a view like this, for free, or nearly free.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

First Time on Kolob Terrace Road

Since we had so much of the day left, Lee said he wanted to drive on Kolob Terrace Road.  We stopped at the RV and ate some lunch, and then headed back out for the road that was pretty close to our boondocking spot.  Kolob Terrace Road is paved, and ends at the Kolob Reservoir.  It also winds in and out of the west side of Zion, and from a crowd perspective was the antithesis of what we had experienced in the morning.  There are several trail heads along the road that require a wilderness permit, but there are also several places to stop just to take in the views, and the views were really beautiful.  It was a steep road in places, and we wouldn’t want to take our RV on it, but we did see one Class C coming down, probably from the small campground that is near the top.

There was a beautiful horse ranch near the start of the road

We also saw this “glamping” compound along the drive. This is where people spend a ton of money to stay in fancy tents. They had a full service restaurant under tents there as well

The road was fun but no joke. I don’t think I have ever seen a 5 mph curve sign before

The landscape kept changing as the elevation changed

 

 

I loved this huge dome rock

 

At one point there was a house incongruously on a hill by the road that was overlooking a canyon in the west side of Zion.  We stopped and walked along a dirt path to get near the edge.  Great view of the canyon, and we heard later it was one of the best places in Zion to watch the sunset.

Look for this house on a hill. It really stands out. Park across the road and look for dirt path

Walking down the dirt path

The pictures really don’t come close to doing it justice

We stopped several times and got out and walked a bit, and one of the best spots was a turnout right before the Wildcat trail head where we were able to walk through some trees and come out on a rock cropping and get a view of the whole valley.  At this point we were at 7500 feet elevation, and were starting to see small patches of snow.

 

Path to edge so we could see more of the valley

 

 

 

 

Near the top there was a dirt road to a lookout that read “No vehicles over 20 feet”. We stopped and measured the truck, and we’re 20’6″, so Lee said we could risk it.  We were about 1/4 mile down the road when the it suddenly got very muddy from melting snow.  We had to back up and turn around and once again our lack of four wheel drive was holding us back.  We could have walked it from there, but it was at the end of a long day and I just didn’t have it in me, plus we still had to get all the way back to our rig.

Lots more snow up here

We continued on up to the Kolob Reservoir, where I was happy to see they had unlocked pit toilet! The reservoir was nice, and open to fishing May-September, but most of the houses seemed to be summer cottages, probably because at a certain point the road was not plowed for snow.  It was a nice drive, and we were glad we got to see the canyon from that perspective, and it only took a couple of hours to make it.

Kolob Reservoir. We could see snowmobile tracks on the frozen portions of the lake

On our way back we stopped near the main road and looked at a series of wooden structures and flowers.  The road was chained, so we crossed the road and stood on the hill, when the gentleman below said we were welcome to come down.  His name was Brent Fitzpatrick, originally from Kent Ohio, and he owned this small parcel of land along the road.  He spent quite a bit of time talking to us about what he was doing, and the story was pretty interesting.  Nine years ago he bought this little orphan piece of land and was convinced that eventually it would become prime real estate.  He is probably right about that, because crowd pressure in the park is making the Terrace road and west sections more attractive to people and he had a great spot at the entrance.

This view gives a rough idea of how the outside pavilion would look with the mountains in the background

I loved this little statue

His vision is to have a Frank Lloyd Wright type set of buildings in the Asian style which blend into the surrounding area.  He shared some pictures of architectural drawings he had done and the concept is stunning.  You can check out the drawings at his website if you are interested.  He is looking for a “major investor” to handle the business end of things while he focuses on the creative. He does have vision, and is definitely passionate and we both wished him well with his endeavor.  He appeared to be close to our age and if nothing else sooner or later the land will definitely be prime real estate.  In the meantime, I appreciate anyone who is working so hard on their dream and I am glad we stumbled across him.

 


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Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.