First Time Hiking Little Wild Horse Canyon

Every time we are with Deb we end up doing a hike that we normally wouldn’t try.  This time since it was Deb’s birthday we decided to hike two canyons near Goblin Valley State Park.  We all love slot canyons and the only way we learned about this one was when we went into the visitors center and saw T-Shirts for it.  Turns out there was a slot canyon nearby and a second canyon as well.  The only downside was there was a 1-1/2 mile stretch of dirt ATV road between them so to do both it was a 10 mile hike.   Most of us hadn’t hiked that far before, but we were all game to try it and headed out pretty early on Sunday morning. the starting point was the parking area at the bottom of the map, and the dirt ATV road was the section of black dots between the two arrows at the top of the map. The two canyon hikes are the red dots on either side.

The map sign shows the loop we were planning on making.

 

The entrance was a dry creek bed

 

With really pretty rock formations

 

Gorgeous colors

 

And there were a couple of really cool, old trees that I just loved.

 

Deb chose to do Wild Horse Canyon first and in retrospect we are glad we did it that way.  Turns out there would have been more uphill if we would have done Bell Canyon first so I am glad we did it.  Also if you don’t feel up to the full 10 miles you can hike Wild Horse up and back.  That canyon is pretty special and well worth just hiking that if you don’t want to do the whole thing.

Pretty quickly we got into the slot portion of the canyon and it was spectacular,

 

It was really good being with a group because we could help each other over the rougher sections.

 

The farther we went the tighter it got, but claustrophobia didn’t bother me at all.  The ceiling was clear, which really helped and I loved the challenge of scrambling over the rocks.  It was also almost completely flat, which made a world of difference to me.  I can hike pretty far as long as there is no incline, and really enjoyed myself.

I used my foot so you can see how narrow it was in some places!

 

 

There was also some beautiful rock formations along the way.  That is what I like so much about canyons is the water has carved great shapes into the rocks.

Some really cool marks in the stones

 

Fossilized wood in a hole in the rock.

 

Loved the multiple layers of rocks

 

We took absolutely amazing pictures, but I did want to mention one thing.  I have seen canyon pictures that are all warm and glowing and as cool as the canyon was it did NOT look like that.  I could get that effect by selecting Vivid Warm on my Iphone and took several pictures with that setting because they look so cool.  I am going to show those here, but please keep in mind the rocks just weren’t that color.  Didn’t matter to me though because of the shape of them.

Picture as it was

 

Picture with Vivid Warm filter

I took so many pictures, but here some of my favorites from the canyon.

Lee had to turn sideways a bit to get his pack through. We all wore hydration packs and were glad of the extra water.

 

We reached the end of the canyon and decided to stop for lunch.

After lunch we headed over to Bell Canyon.  This canyon had less slot features and I found the trail much harder.  The worst part though was walking 1-1/2 miles in full sun, mostly uphill, on a road to get to it. There was a slight incline and we all were struggling with it, although the canyon itself was also nice.  If I had to choose just one though, definitely Wild Horse canyon but we all felt great about meeting the challenge of hiking both.

This one had more climbing and maybe because we were getting tired it seemed harder.

 

Thank heavens for this sign or we would have kept going.

There actually were a couple of cars on the road which was surprising

 

This particular section was the worst as we all slipped down it a bit.

 

Here are some of Lee’s favorite pictures from what he took, and of course there’s a video!!!

From Left in front : Tracy, Lee, Cori. From Left back row: Deb, Steve, and Greg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was an amazing day but we were all really glad to finally see the parking lot and be done.  It was the perfect way to celebrate Deb’s birthday and I know it is a memory we will all treasure.


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

 

Boondocking Outside of Goblin Valley

We had so much fun at Goblin Valley that we definitely didn’t want to leave the area, but we also knew we wouldn’t be able to extend our stay in the campground.  Thankfully Lee learned that there are VAST amounts of BLM land surrounding the State park and we could boondock anywhere we wanted.  We also learned there was a long hike in a canyon close by, which seemed like the perfect thing to do for Deb’s birthday.  Over the years we have been really lucky to celebrate birthdays with our friends and although we rarely plan to be together during those times, it often turns out we are.  It’s pretty easy to make a birthday special on the road.  Cook a nice meal and plan an excursion that works with your friend’s interests.  In Deb’s case that is definitely hiking and the Wild Horse Canyon hike seemed perfect.

First we had to find a place and that turned out to be a little more challenging than expected.  Yes, there are tons and tons of spots in the area, but there were also a surprising number of people boondocking.  We also needed a spot that was big enough for three rigs, and relatively flat, which was a little more challenging.  Ultimately we just started driving down the road out of Goblin Valley and turned left at the first dirt route after the sign that tells you you have left the state park.  Once we were on that road we kept going until we found a spot that would work for us.  In retrospect after exploring the area, I would actually recommend going father on the paved road rather than turning off on the first dirt road. But that’s personal preference, it’s pretty wide open and there are lots of places to go.

Right outside of the state Park boundaries we turned down a dirt road

 

Little conference when Lee’s preferred spot was already full

 

We thought this spot might work.  GPS coordinates 38.567311,-110.748183

 

Nice!!

 

We set up our chairs and enjoyed some warm temps.

 

And Jack enjoyed this dog rug Steve and Deb bought him

 

After a while the dogs took advantage of this shady spot.

After a while Lee got bored and went exploring and found a fantastic hollow back in the rocks.  It was perfect for a campfire at night and we all took our chairs and our portable fire pit up there.  It provided some nice wind break in the evenings and was a really cool vibe.

Lee walking up to the cave.

 

How cool is that!

Goblin Valley is one of the darkest places in the US. I stink at taking night photos but managed to get this shot through the cave opening.

We knew we were staying Saturday and Sunday and weren’t sure which day to do the hike.  Ultimately we decided Sunday would be the best day based on weather, so I took Saturday to make a pot roast dinner for Deb.  Because we were boondocking and I was using the Instant Pot I needed to stay with the rig, so we all took a day to chill and folks did their own thing until dinner time.  What I have found while boondocking is I have to run the generator until the Instant Pot comes to pressure.  Once it starts counting down I turn off the generator and run the rest on our batteries, because while the Instant Pot is a high wattage device, once it’s at pressure it doesn’t use the high wattage continuously, it cycles on and off, so it doesn’t completely kill the batteries. Plus with all that fabulous Utah sun we were making more power than we were using!  Thankfully the pot roast was a big hit and I even had some Ghirardelli brownie mix for desert.  Steve found a candle and we sang Happy birthday to Deb for her birthday under the big sky.  Doesn’t get much better than that!

Lee spent some time offering tech support in our RV. The lack of internet made it a little difficult.

 

Deb, Cori, and Steve have Verizon so they took a short ride up a hill to get signal and check in. No ATT to be found anywhere so we didn’t bother.

 

Steve gave us this door grill from his RV which he couldn’t use because he got new stairs. It was perfect for us because we need to stop Jack from scratching the screen.

 

Functional and looks great. So sweet of Steve to think of us!

 

Yummy brownie sundaes with low-fat syrup and ice cream provided by Cori. The brownies were all fat though but DEE-licious!

 

Nice view!

 

And another fire as a perfect end to a birthday celebration!

 

 

 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

First Time Hiking in Goblin Valley

A few things you should know about Goblin Valley before I show you the pictures.  First, the  “Goblins” are actually hoodoos, they are just called something different by the locals.  Second, this whole valley was near an ancient sea which may account why there are so many of them in a concentrated area.  Third, you simply cannot take a bad picture here.  It was amazing and other wordly.

Did I mention part of the 1999 movie Galaxy Quest was filmed here, because it looks like an alien planet? (It’s actually surprising that more movies haven’t been filmed here, considering the unique look. Prior to the film, access to the park from the nearest highway was a dirt road. The fees the production paid for filming at the park paid for paving the entire access road. If you’ve never seen the film, it’s really a lot of fun, especially if you grew up in the 60’s or 70’s, or are a Sci-Fi fan. Useless trivia; it was the film debut for Rainn Wilson of The Office, and Justin Long, of the “I’m a Mac/I’m a PC commercials. – Lee) Here’s a quick edit that Lee did of the best shots from the movie that were filmed in the same valley that we walked in –

Lastly, it’s not so much a hike as a “wander”.  There are no set trails, and you can get up close and personal with the goblins.  We loved it, the dogs loved it, and kids would love it.  It’s a special place and I highly recommend visiting, despite it’s remote location.

View from the parking lot

As you walk down into the first valley (there are actually three) there is so much to see

 

Lee’s pic

Initially we kept the dogs on leashes but when we got further back we just let them go.

 

And they had a blast

 

 

Even Hobie got into the action

 

We had fun too especially with the rocks that looked like other things. Like this shark.

 

A frog

Brontosauraus

 

And a turtle.

 

And whatever this was!  A duck with an Adam’s apple??

Lee saw this spooky one

Creepy …looks like a guy is stuck in the rocks.

 

I was super jealous of how Deb got Hurley to pose for her. Jack was way too excited.

This was the best we could do.  He didn’t want to sit he just wanted to run and run.

 

Thankfully Deb captured this shot of Jack which is one of my favorite pictures ever.

 

So we just focused on people shots.

The best part was probably when we climbed the hill and entered the second valley and had it all to ourselves.  We just had to be careful to keep an eye on landmarks to find our way back out, because you can’t climb out just anywhere.

Climbing into the next valley

 

Hobie was ready to explore!! He had more energy than I have seen in a long time.

Lee’s pic

 

We used this huge white and red rock as a landmark to find our way back out.

 

Lee loved exploring all the little caves and Hurley was right there with him.

 

I just loved wandering and looking at all the rock formations.

 

Jack and Hobie stayed right with me when I wandered and it was a great off leash lesson for Jack.

 

Probably the funnest part of the day was when Deb decided to climb up on a Hoodoo.  She picked a tall one which was crazy and none of the rest of us was willing to do, but we were more than willing to pose on the little tiny ones.

Deb being super brave.

 

Met not so much

 

Cori

 

Greg

 

Steve

 

Even Lee got into the act, It was that kind of place!

We all had a wonderful time, but it was more tiring than I thought.  In the afternoon the group went on a rim hike but Greg and I bowed out.  I still think the hike along the bottom was the best but I am glad they got to do two hikes.

(Added bonus for those who made it all the way to the end, the entire unedited scene from Galaxy Quest that was shot in Goblin Valley. – Lee) 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Driving to Goblin Valley

We spent our couple of days in Torrey fighting the wind and exploring the other half of Route 12.  As windy and cold as it was where we were, we felt lucky that we weren’t farther east.  We looked around for other boondocking spots that might be better, but the weather was pretty bad everywhere, and ultimately decided to just stay where we were.  Thankfully on Thursday it was time to move on to Goblin Valley and we were hoping the lower elevation would bring higher temperatures.

We rarely make campground reservations in advance, but occasionally there are parks where you have to.  Deb had visited Goblin Valley State Park 20 years before with her kids and she was anxious to return.  I had never even heard of it, but was game and she, Cori, and I all got online right when the campsites opened several months ago and snagged three spots.  We knew there wouldn’t be any cell coverage in that remote area, so Steve had taken some vacation days.  Goblin Valley isn’t really close to anything else, so again we had to plan our route.  We ended up going Route 24 right through Capitol Reef which was an absolutely beautiful drive.  Generally I don’t like to blow through national parks, but since our plan was to return and spend more time there, I just sat back and enjoyed the drive.  It was spectacular.

 

During the drive we did run into a couple of 8 percent grades, but nothing we couldn’t handle, and once we left the national park the landscape flattened out quite a bit.  We saw lots of farmland with the occasional stunning outcropping of rock.

Utah is full of remote spaces, but Goblin Valley is on a whole other level.  The closest town was Hanksville, which was 32 miles away, and we stopped to gas up and buy some ice.   What was great about the stop was we got to see a gas station built into the side of a rock and I really loved it. It’s not only super cool, but they had a great selection and the restrooms were very clean.

If you go here grab some popcorn that they make fresh daily. Yummy!

 

When you walk back to the restrooms you go through rock. Fantastic.

 

They just dry walled around the rock and left some of it bare.

Once we stocked up we headed towards the park and eventually made it.  Despite it’s remote location, the park is not cheap, costing $30 to camp (no hookups) and $15 for a day use fee. There is a reason for this though, because the goblins are pretty unique rock formations and the campground is really close to them.  We checked in, and made our way to our spot excited to see what the park had to offer.

Long, lonesome road to get there.

 

The campground is pretty small, which is part of the reason it is hard to get into.

 

It does have a dump station and nice restrooms.

 

And every site has a great pavilion which was nice.

 

And the views were pretty spectacular.

 

The sites closest to the rocks were all tent sites and despite the chilly temps were all full.

 

Jack liked it because more sand and the center section was big enough for him to run around in.

Eventually we all arrived, including Steve and Deb who had a much longer drive from Bryce.  While we were waiting Lee took the truck and drove outside of the park checking out the boondocking opportunities.  After dinner, we called it an early night, excited about going on a hike the next day.  We only had two nights inside the park and definitely wanted to make the most of it.

Gorgeous sunsets.

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Driving to Torrey

After an amazing weekend with Deb and Steve we had two choices.  We could either stay in Bryce with Deb and Steve, or head to Torrey and meet up with Cori and Greg. Ultimately we were all ending up in goblin Valley, but since Cori and Steve are still working they couldn’t travel until later in the week.  We weren’t sure what we wanted to do, so we checked the weather.  It’s pretty common that all things being equal, weather is a big factor in our travel plans, and this was no different.  A huge storm was due on Tuesday (it was the storm that blanketed the entire midwest) and high winds and snow were forecasted for Bryce.  Torrey on the other hand was at lower elevation and was only supposed to get high winds.  Fair enough.  Off to Torrey with Steve and Deb following behind in a few days.

First we had to figure out how to get there which required some research.  Utah more than any other place we have been (except maybe Alaska) requires some research on which roads to travel.  There aren’t many interstates, and many of the smaller roads have significant grades.  I also like whenever possible to travel on roads we have never been on and carry a marked up Atlas Map in the truck so I can see where we have been.  Every year is a different color and it’s always exciting to me when I get to fill in a new section. After looking at the map we had three major choices.

 

Since we had already established that we didn’t want to go on Route 12, we decided to take Route 89 to Route 62 to Route 24 instead.  Even though it was a longer route it took less time, and when I checked our Mountain Directory I didn’t see any bad grades.  Speaking of which, we use the Mountain Directory guide to research whenever we are on road where we are concerned about the grades.  It was written by a truck driver who also RV’s.  That information has consistently been helpful to us when deciding whether we can handle a road, and although it is not cheap it has absolutely been worth it. Lee was happy with the roads and I was happy that it was a road we had never been on and a scenic drive. Win-Win.

Before we even got started, we had a bit of excitement.  Because the dump station at Bryce wasn’t open yet we had to stop and dump and chose a place right outside of the park.  We also filled up on propane, because we had gone through quite a bit and in the middle of all the excitement Jack threw up in the truck.  He’s been much better about this, rarely throwing up when we travel, but today he did and it all landed on my hiking hat.  That was much better than on the carpet for sure, but I love that hat and thankfully was able to clean it all off quickly.

My poor hat

 

Jack looking sad

 

Lee said this is only the second time he has seen a dump station like this. Not the most sanitary.

Once all of that was taken care of though we headed down the road, excited about what was around the next corner.

Several small towns along the route.

 

I love these combination stores which have a little bit of everything in order to survive.

 

This one had a working piano on the outside which was a first.

 

Considering the size of the town these are decently stocked, but with the nearest chain grocery store well over two hours away these are the fruits and vegetables people have ready access to. People who don’t live in remote areas take that sort of thing for granted, but we see it a lot in our travels.

 

Almost every town has an LDS church though.

 

And some small business although these vary from town to town in an interesting way.

One of my favorite parts of taking the road less traveled is those unexpected scenic or historic finds we stumble across along the way.  These roads were no different, and thankfully we had the time to actually stop and check a few of them out.  The first one we came across was the childhood home of Butch Cassidy, and thankfully it had a big enough parking lot that we were able to swing in.  I love the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and it was very interesting to see where Butch spent his formative years.  He lived there from age 14-16 and according to the census bureau he lived in this small home with his mother, father, and 5 siblings.

 

The information they provided on the signs was very good. I found the picture of him as a young man and then as an adult particularly interesting.

 

Plexiglass blocked the inside, which was mostly interesting because of how small it was.

 

These trees in the backyard were huge as you can see from the 4 foot fence next to them.  I had never seen any quite like them.

While we were traveling we also ran across Otter Creek Reservoir. It was a very long body of water, and we saw several people camping down there.  Unfortunately there was zero cell signal during that portion of the drive, so it wouldn’t work for us.

One of my favorite stops was a rest area we stumbled across that had absolutely beautiful views of the mountains.  Jack enjoyed that stop as well and we got some great pictures of him and the rig.

Lee called this a hangman’s tree.

 

The river running next to the rest area sounded really pretty.

 

It’s hard to accurately portray how remote these roads are but I will say this.  At one point we were out in the middle of nowhere and stumbled across a surprisingly large facility. I wondered out loud if this was one of the troubled youth camps I had heard about in Utah, and sure enough later when I was back in cell coverage I looked it up and it is for troubled teens. Although the facility itself looked very nice I personally found its remote location troubling.  No cell, no major roads, and surrounded by a whole lot of nothing.  There wasn’t even a small town close by.

As pleasant as the drive was, we were excited about seeing Cori and Greg and were glad when we finally pulled into our boondocking spot.  They had scouted ahead and found a nice spot on Beas Lewis Flat Road.  We had read some mixed reviews because there is a ton of glass at the entrance, but Greg and Cori found a great spot up amongst the rocks.  It was an absolutely gorgeous view, but it was a little windy, but thankfully it was mostly glass free.  Jack was thrilled to see Hobie again and we were glad to see Cori and Greg.

turning into the boondocking road

 

You can’t see it but there is a ton of glass to the right. Really a shame since its a beautiful spot.

 

Pulling into our spot.

 

Greg and Cori purchased a Chinook which they are using to take some trips. They still have their Class A but this gives them more flexibility.

 

Hobie was happy to see me!

 

And Jack was happy to see him!

 

Jack also loved exploring the big rocks.

 

Greg and Lee looking manly 🙂

 

Absolutely gorgeous views

 

The only downside to the site was it was windy, especially since we were getting the tail end of the storm hitting the Midwest.  That was OK because there was lots to explore in the area, the cell coverage was strong, and it was totally free.  It was a good place to hang out for a couple of days before going to Goblin Valley. Oh, and the GPS coordinates for those who would like to try the spot are 38.297900, -111.388864.   There are also more spots farther down past the cattle guard that we saw several people staying in, but we didn’t do much exploring down there.

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Jacks First Hike

While we were driving Route 12, we decided to take a 9 mile detour and visit Kodachrome Basin State Park. Last year when we drove Cottonwood Canyon Road we ended up here, but didn’t want to pay the $8 day use fee because it was so late in the day.  We had heard that there were lots of hiking trails in the park and of course it was known for the ability to camp within the rocks. It also seemed like a really good place to take Jack on his first hike.  I had been putting this off, because I was a little nervous about how well he would do.  He has the boundless energy of a puppy, but also the lack of self control, and walking him is often a challenge because he is all over the place.  I wasn’t sure how that would look on a hiking trail, and really wanted Lee to be with me when we gave it a try.  Usually we would go inside and watch the movie, but it was 17 minutes long and I didn’t want to leave Jack in the truck that long.  I thought it would be too hot. Instead we asked where the best place to have lunch was, and grabbed a brochure so that we could select a hike.

The rock formations on the way in are nice

 

Loved our lunch spot and we had it all to ourselves.

 

Gave Jack a chance to explore a little before the hike

 

Turns out he loves climbing on rocks which was one of my concerns.   As an FYI he is usually on leash in these pictures but I photoshop them out because it looks better. In this one I got the leash but not its shadow lol.

 

By the time lunch was over it was starting to get a little hot, so I decided on a 1.5 mile canyon floor hike.  I definitely wanted something flat, plus I enjoy walking at the base of the canyons rather than the steep climbs to overlooks along the rim.  I much prefer being “within the rocks” and all things being equal I’ll take a flat hike over one with elevation any day. We made sure we had plenty of water and were delighted to see that Jack’s water bottle fit perfectly in our Outdoor Mojave waist hiking packs.  On really long trips we use our hydration packs but most hikes we are fine with the waist packs and I really prefer them.  After trying numerous packs since becoming fulltimers, these are the first packs that don’t hurt my back.

You can see Jack’s water bottle on the right.

 

Here’s our trail, The Grand Parade.

 

Jack and Lee taking off down the road. The sand had been recently graded, which left big ruts on the side.

 

Jack getting the lay of the land.

 

Didn’t take him long to get really excited.

 

Lee’s footprint and Jack’s pawprints in the sand.

 

Initially Jack was running all over the place, but then he got hot and started seeking the shady areas.  We took lots of water breaks and gave him rests along the way.

Shady spot

 

He also loved rolling in the dirt beside the trail. We let him because it was cooling him off.

 

 

Big drinks.

 

Unfortunately he lost interest well before we were done, but we all kept going.  The real problem was how hot it was and unfortunately there was very little shade.

Jack is really not into posing

 

We did find a nice little cave for a break at one point

 

 

You can see he’s starting to get tired

 

And instead of leading the way he was lagging behind.

 

Taking a break he’s almost asleep on his feet.

 

Finally we saw the sign showing the trailhead. Since it was a loop that meant the end was close.

 

.

This rock was very close to the entrance, so we knew we were in the home stretch when we saw this.

Overall Jack did fine, but in retrospect I should have started with something a little shorter and been more careful about the heat.  We weren’t expecting it to get so hot, but we also know better than to be hiking around 2pm.  It was nice though that hardly anyone was on the trail.  That allowed us to work on hiking etiquette with him without worrying about lots of people.  As far as the state park and the hikes go, I would say it is just OK.  There are lots of better trails and views that are free in the area, and it all seemed a little tame to me.  We did check out the campground and saw there were a few sites we could fit our rig into (Sites 40,41,42,44, and 45), but since we don’t recommend taking a big rig on Route 12, for us at least we wouldn’t stay there.  And again, not such a big deal because there are so many beautiful places in the area.  In general, I thought it was OK, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit.

View on the way out. In the grand scheme of things not that dramatic.

 

One pooped out puppy. Us wearing him out might be a first!!

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

 

 

First Time on Utah Route 12

One of our major questions when traveling in the southern Utah area was whether we could take our RV on Scenic Route 12.  This is by far the easiest route between Bryce and Capitol Reef, and we knew from descriptions it was a gorgeous road with lots of amazing things to see.

Courtesy of BLM Visitors center

 

We also heard conflicting reports from numerous sources on whether or not this road was big rig safe so we decided to take our own day trip on Monday to see for ourselves.  We knew the road was probably too long for a single day trip, so we decided to go to the halfway point from Bryce.  Later we traveled the other half from Torrey and on several other occasions were on the road going to another destination.  At the end of our stay we had driven every inch of that road going both ways.  I have combined all the pictures from these trips into one post in order to make a serious point.   I would never recommend taking a big RV on this road.  And here’s why.

Now you may be thinking, I have handled grades before and I’m careful so it’s not that bad, and I agree…except here is what was at the end of those grades.  None of them were straight down. Oh and the road during the Dixie National Forest section can get icy and on more than one occasion we experienced snow in April up there.

What is unfortunate is there are several parks and campgrounds along the route, and to be fair we did see numerous C Class and travel trailers on the road.  If you travel in one of these by all means, but proceed with caution.  On the other hand, we never saw fifth wheel, Class A, or semi truck, which again should tell you something.  It’s really unfortunate that there is no warning at the beginning of either section of the road.  I am not sure why, because we have been on less difficult roads that have had warnings.

Now that we got that out of the way, let me tell you about how amazing the road is. First of all, it starts at both ends at higher elevations, with pine trees and snow, and then drops down into the Grand Staircase Escalante, which has desert terrain.  The contrast is stunning, and we learned later from the Escalante Visitors center that the route passes through six elevation zones.

Beautiful views on one of the clear days traveling west through Dixie National Forest from Torrey.

 

There are three state parks along the route, which is maybe why no big rig warning ??

 

One clear day the views were spectacular. You can see the differences in landscapes and the picture doesn’t come close to doing it justice.

 

One of our favorite sections near Boulder is the Hogback.  This section has steep drop-offs of 1000 feet on each side and is absolutely gorgeous.  It’s difficult to capture in pictures, but Lee tried.

Several of these turns…this is just the beginning

 

Here’s the steep drop on one side

 

And on the other. The dark ribbon along the right is is the top of a canyon, so it goes even deeper.

 

Lee stood at the point of the curve and took this pic to try to capture it.  Really you have to drive it to experience it.

 

After Hogback you start to come down into Grand Staircase and the views go on for miles.  At the bottom is a campground called Calf Creek where we took a hike that I will talk about in another post.  It’s beautiful though as the rocks change from white to red as you go down.

 

 

 

It isn’t all rocks and vistas though.  There are several small towns to visit along the way and as I mentioned, three state parks.  We visited two of the three which I will cover in other posts, but they are all worth a look.  Really you can’t see it all in one day, which is why after Bryce we decided to stay over in Torrey for several days, although I am getting ahead of myself.  Let me just show you some of the other things we saw.

There is a nice Hole in the Rock museum which commemorates the Mormons crossing this area.. Great place for Jack to stretch his legs. And stay tuned for a post on the Hole in the Rock!

Old Farm Equipment

 

And the bathrooms were super clean.

Many of the historical stops are run by the Mormon church and most of the small towns have a church as well.  Aside from them the only other church we saw was a small catholic church.   This might be the smallest Catholic Church we have ever seen in our travels.

In addition to the Mormon history, the entire area was home to Ancient Puebloans and there are hints of them everywhere if you look hard enough.

We also saw several ancient puebloan granaries. This cool marker had perfectly aligned pipes that acted sort of like scopes so you could find them.

 

And a description of what they area

So much to sniff.

 

Just in case you forget how wild this area still is though, we saw this large skeleton right off the road.

No matter which way you travel the road, I highly recommend a stop at the Visitors center.  They can give you the most up to date information on what is happening, in particular the state of the roads.  As you can see from the map at the beginning of the post there are lots of scenic byways off of 12.  Before traveling on any of them though, I absolutely recommend talking to a ranger, because you don’t know what the condition of the road may be.  We learned for example that all roads north of 12 were closed due to snow.  That wasn’t readily apparent from the road and we might have found ourselves stuck because many of the scenic roads can be very narrow with no room to turn around for miles.

Really great visitors center.

 

Cool lizard.

 

This report is extremely important if you are planning on going off the main road. There is a similar report and visitors center on the southern portion of Grand Staircase as well. Because we have 4WD we have to be especially cautious, but even 4WD can get stuck in snow and mud.

 

I loved this sign!

 

Based on the road report and talking to the ranger, we did decide to try a short drive on nearby Cedar Wash road. At a much lower elevation it was clear and dry.  It’s a good thing we did talk to them because the signs really aren’t that great.  We started out going down Hole-in-The-Rock road and eventually hit Cedar Wash which circles around to Main Street.  It was fun getting off road a bit and because we were going so slow I could let Jack hang out the window which he liked.

Hole in the Rock road

 

Small sign for Cedar Wash

 

The road was recently graded and in very nice condition.

 

Quite a bit of the surrounding property was private land so we had to stay on the road.

 

Jack enjoyed the views and it was a beautiful day. There was a 20 degree difference in temperatures between Bryce and Escalante, which is common.

 

Here is an example of why you shouldn’t travel these roads without checking first. This washout had been recently repaired, otherwise we would have been backing out.

We absolutely love the road, and highly recommend more than one day to travel it.  It is a great way to see Grand Staircase Escalante and there are enough different things to do that most people will find something they love.  It also has a remoteness and outwordly quality that we absolutely love.  This is highlighted by the UFO cloud we saw near the end of one of our days.  It was interesting, because we saw a similar one last year when we traveled on Cottonwood Road into Grand Staircase from the south.  At first glance this park seems barren, but like many other special places the more you look the more you see.


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