First Time in Dead Horse Point State Park

Lee and I had decided to head out for Oregon on Tuesday, and since we wanted to take Monday to button everything up that left us with one more sight seeing day in Utah.  It was a little hard to choose what to do with that last day, but ultimately I decided that we needed to see Dead Horse Point State Park.  From what we had read and what our friends had told us the views were pretty amazing there, so Sunday morning we headed out.  It was another pretty day, and we made the drive towards Canyonlands National Park as Dead Horse Point sits on it’s border.  We knew there would be a fee to enter the State Park that our America the Beautiful pass wouldn’t cover, but were a bit surprised that the entrance fee was $15 per car.  Despite the fee there was a line when we arrived, and more importantly the visitors center parking lot was completely full.  This was a bit of a problem since they didn’t give maps at the entrance booth, so Lee waited in the truck while I ran in, waited in a line of four people, to be given a xerox copy of a map. Ultimately I am not sure we actually needed it, because there are only two places for visitors to park, and the road leads from the visitors center parking lot to the Point parking lot.  Thankfully, although the second parking lot was also full, there were numerous picnic table areas close by and we were able to snag a spot there and walk to the scenic viewpoint.

Paved walkway and very dog friendly. We saw numerous people with dogs on our visit.

The view was stunning, plus there was a long trail around the rim that we walked part of.  Lee really liked walking around near the edge, but for me it lacked the wow factor that we had gotten from our time at Needles Overlook.  Add into that the $15 and the crowds, and it was definitely less pleasant for me than other walks we had taken, but it was a pretty view.

Dead Horse Point State Park



We did get really excited about this dirt road. We found out later this was the 4×4 road at the entrance of Canyonlands and it solidified the fact that this was a must do on our return trip.

 

We really wanted to be in that little tiny Jeep!

 

The crowds weren’t too bad once we got away from the main viewing area and these rocks in particular were a popular place for people to take pictures.

 

We also had a chance to check out the campgrounds, which are $35 a night, but very nice.  There was a whole new section that looked brand new, and was big rig friendly, and the sites had water and electric, and there were really good dump stations at each of the two campgrounds.  We drove through the two loops, and thought sites 28 and 32 were really good, although you really couldn’t go wrong with any of them. One of the main features of this particular state park are 16 miles of mountain bike trails, which range from beginner to expert, and we saw lots of people out biking that day.  Which was part of the problem with limited parking.  The bikers parked near the visitor center, and on a Sunday at least it was packed.  That being said on our way out we were able to snag a spot and went into the visitors center and took the short hike around the rim to get those views.  The best part of that was we finally saw a sign explaining what those large pools of water are and learned they were part of a salt refinery process in Potash. Update”  I got a response from a reader with a correction so here it is “Currently we are camphosting at Dead Horse Point State Park. So I thought I should point out a correction you mentioned about the campgrounds. You mentioned the newest area, called Wingate, which has very nice and large sites. However those first 3 sites as you pull into Wingate are dedicated camp host sites. Those are the only ones with full hookups, other then that the remaining sites ( not the tent sites) only have electric. One MUST bring water when they come in to the park. There is only one dedicated camp host site in the original Kayenta area. Again the remaining sites are water only.”

One of the site, as you can see very level and pretty huge.

 

View from the trail near the visitors center.  You can see the solar evaporation ponds used to make salt in the distance.

 

And a sign explaining exactly what they are. Though of you Ruth when I saw the sign 🙂

 

Since we don’t have bikes and weren’t planning on hiking any trails, it only took a couple of hours to see the park, and feeling vaguely dissatisfied with the experience we decided to head to Potash road.  This was another drive that we had read about, and after looking at our maps we realized that Potash Road was also HWY 239 which runs along the Colorado.  This drive was really pretty, with steep canyon walls, beautiful views of the Colorado, and again on a Sunday, heavily in use.  Turns out there is a section called “Wall Street” which is very popular with local rock climbers and we stopped for a little bit and got some pictures of the folks climbing. I really should stress here that I am amazed by what an outdoor playground Moab is. Because of the terrain and the Colorado river, in the last 7 days we had seen people white water rafting, rock climbing, hiking, biking, ATVing, and off roading.  I really can understand the appeal, and the town does a great job of providing infrastructure and support for people in all those pursuits.  Pretty impressive really.

Potash Road

 

Beautiful steep red canyon walls

 

Loved the river views

 

Wall Street

 

We actually saw more young women climbing than men which was very cool.

There are also lots of tent campgrounds along this road as well as parking and trail heads for the hike to both Corona Arch and Jug Handle Arch which are both on the strenuous side, but the trail heads were seeing lots of use.  Corona in particular Lee would like to do on a return visit because that is another one of those iconic arches people photograph all the time.  At the end of the paved portion of the road we also saw the Potash Salt refinery which was kind of a cool facility and there was a large ATV trailhead at the end before the road turned to dirt.

Potash Refinery

We stopped at the Day Use area, and Lee walked over to talk to some folks about the road conditions and this is where we got into a little trouble.  The people said the road was in fine shape for a 4×2 so we decided to continue down the road and see what we saw.  It was beautiful, although steep, but I did enjoy it until we hit a sign that said Shafer Trail and the road really went to hell. At that point I asked Lee to stop and turn around, because we just didn’t know what we were getting into and we drove back out to look for HWY 145 which goes on the other side of the river.

The road was OK in the beginning.

 

Really cool rocks

 

And beautiful views

Initially we had a really hard time finding 279 which ultimately it turns out is called Kane Creek Blvd in the GPS.  Despite the fact that it was literally on the other side of the river, to access the road we had to drive pretty far into Moab and ended up making a right at the McDonald’s.  This road was much rougher, and more importantly, narrower, and we saw lots of ATV’s on trailers heading out.  We also saw a group of homes built into the cliffs and caves on the left side as we traveled down the road, which was pretty interesting, and made me think that at some point this was unclaimed land and people had homesteaded it.

This home was really nice

 

But other ones were literally hollowed out portions of sandstone

 

Ultimately the road turned to gravel, but since we were seeing lots of small vehicles we kept going, despite the very steep drop-offs.  I have definitely learned on this trip that I am not a fan of narrow gravel roads with steep drop-offs, and this one was really freaking me out.  Finally Lee found a small parking area he could turn around in and my nerves at that point were pretty frazzled so we headed back.  As we were headed down we came face to face with a Class C, who despite the multiple warning signs against it was going up the road.  Lee stopped and talked to the guy who said he was following a friend and never been on the road and Lee told him, he personally wouldn’t take the rig past the big parking lot that was coming up.  The guy thanked us and we kept driving down and I breathed a sigh of relief when we made it back on pavement.

Thankfully we met the Class C on a slightly wider section of the road.  What you can’t see is to the left was a VERY steep drop-off, and this is probable the widest the road was at any point. Several times we passed Jeeps coming down that had to put their passenger side tires up on the incline to allow us room, and our tires were just inches from the edge.

So now we were both vaguely disgruntled and Lee really didn’t want to end Utah on such a low note.  The problem with having such an amazing time in a place is that not every experience can be extraordinary, and you want to end on a high note.  We both knew that wasn’t really realistic and trying to push it had got us into the last two drives, but Lee gave it one more shot and we stopped at the Moonflower Canyon trailhead.  We had no idea what we were getting into, except there was a reflecting pool at the end, but we started walking and since we could see the canyon end knew it shouldn’t take that long.  Once again the trail wasn’t very clear, but we met a family with young kids along the way and they pointed us in the right direction.  It turned out that this little canyon was truly an oasis in the middle of the desert.  There were really large trees back in there and it was shockingly green after so much desert,  and before long we made it to the reflecting pool.

At the entrance to the trail there is this slot where people had placed pieces of wood and we heard people who had climbed up in there to see some petorglyphs. That was a big no way for me for a variety of reasons, but it was neat looking up at least.

 

Beautiful big trees

 

And so much bright green

 

Unfortunately when we got to the pool there was a couple with their dog and since they didn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon we didn’t stay long.

 

It was a cool pool though, and I would have liked to have seen the reflection without the dog making ripples!

 

Like I said really big trees

Afterwards, we decided to treat ourselves to Chinese food, but the place I wanted to go appeared to be out of business and the sit down restaurant in town was crazy expensive.  Ultimately we decided to try a Thai Restaurant which was half full at 5pm and although the food was good, it was pretty noisy in there.

Thai restaurant that was on a side street

 

We did have some won ton wrapped fried ice cream that was pretty good. Not Chi-Chi’s good, but decent.

 

After having dinner, I am sad to say that I am not a huge fan of the town of Moab itself.  I’ve gone to both grocery stores, gotten a haircut, ate in restaurants, and met some people that grew up there.  It’s definitely a resort town, and although I appreciate supporting local businesses, needing to travel 1-1/2 hours to get to a large “chain” grocery store is a bit much.  The prices in town are inflated, of course, and it is definitely geared towards the tourist more than the regular people.  All that being said, the real problem is the way the town is laid out.  It is two sides of a main street and the businesses are pretty packed together and it is definitely not big truck friendly.  I overheard a guy who was living in the area talk about “coming to town” and he said he avoided it as long as possible and when he did, he ran all his errands on one side of the street and then went back and did the other side and then got out as fast as he could. I can definitely see that.   It’s a shame, because when we first arrived I was thinking, oooh, this could be our ultimate place, but I definitely think it falls in the great place to visit wouldn’t necessarily want to live there category.  I did love, love the outside of town though.  My advice would be to completely stock up on everything you need prior to rolling in, so you only needed to go into town if you wanted to, not because you have to.

Although we ended up on a bit of a down note, we have absolutely loved our time in Utah and are particularly excited because there is so much left that we haven’t done.  Since this is between Oregon and Texas and the weather is really nice in October and April, we definitely will be coming back and spending more time here. I really thought that our time in Alaska had ruined us to some extent for anything we would see in the lower 48, but Utah, in a completely different way, contains the same vastness, wildness, and beauty that we loved about Alaska, without the need to drive 4,000 miles to get here.  Seriously, if you haven’t been you really should come.  Everyone should experience this place at least once in their life. But either bring a 4×4 or be prepared to rent one!


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.

Laundry Day, Scenic Drive, And Finally A Day Off!!

The next morning, despite our vow to sleep in a little, Lee woke up early and went to do laundry.  There are four laundry places in Moab and two have 5 star ratings, one of which he decided to go to. We don’t always look at Yelp ratings when we travel, but for laundromats we almost always do, because the experience can vary so much.  They had lots of big machines though and he spent the time talking to a young man who is full timing with his wife and two kids and he had a pleasant enough time.
I, on the other hand,  woke up really sore for the first time since we have been in Utah.   It’s not surprising really since I was climbing on rocks like I was a 20 year old and even though it was totally worth it, I was definitely paying for it today.  Lee had said before he left that he wanted to do something today, so we settled on what we thought would be an easy scenic drive.
While Lee was at the laundromat he walked over to a local outdoor retailer called Gearheads and saw they had my brand of Merrell’s.  This winter I had noticed at Amazon that my hiking shoes were pretty much done, but hadn’t had the foresight to buy a new pair since we hit Utah.  Since I really don’t like to buy shoes online I was making do, but yesterday had really brought home they needed to be replaced.  His timing was perfect then in finding a store and once he got back we had some lunch and then headed out.  I was thrilled by both the selection and service in such a relatively small store and they not only had my exact model, but also in my size and at the very reasonable price of $109.  Coincidentally, I have been wearing Merrell’s Moab this entire time and replacing them in Moab itself seemed fitting.

Lee going into Gearheads

I tried them on and they immediately felt good, which is why I am such a big fan and several days later as of this writing there was no “breaking in” needed.  For the record I also buy the ventilated version rather than the waterproof version and prefer these because I don’t like for my feet to sweat when I am hiking.  After Gearheads, we also went down to Shopko where I looked for a shower curtain.  My friends Pam and Vicki both have shower doors like mine and as with mine over time they get cloudy.  Their solution, which I thought was brilliant, was to add a shower curtain, and although the selection was limited in town I wanted to give it a try. When we got home later and put them up I was really happy with how it looked.  Lee is still on the fence about whether he likes it or not, but when it’s just us we can tuck it out of the way.

While we were out I also bought some new socks since the last time I bought any was in Quartzsite two years ago.  The price there was great and I kept thinking we would get back, but finally broke down and bought 6 pairs of socks for around $3 a pair.  I also have had the same $10 pair of sunglasses that I bought in an airport over 5 years ago.  The sand and blowing wind had scratched them up and it was definitely time for a new pair.  I made Lee crazy trying on every pair in the drug store, until I finally found a pair that might work.  They only cost $11.99, so if they don’t work for me I won’t feel too bad about it.
You may be noticing a pattern here, and it is true that on certain things I like what I like, and want a bargain to boot. Lee of all people should understand that, because our next stop was the camera store, and he is a sucker for old-fashioned camera stores.  They are pretty rare in most cities now, but we still find them in smaller touristy towns and Moab was no exception.  He went in looking for lens cleaning paper (which he got), but came out with a rotating, polarizing lens.  Several people had recommended that we try a polarizing lens to cut down on the amount of post work we would need to do after taking pictures, so Lee bought one.  He’s going to try it out and see what the results are, and then I may decide to get one as well.  I’m going to wait and see how different his pictures look with it.
The good news is he did NOT buy the wide angle lens the guy was trying to get him to buy, which I appreciated, but we had talked about what we are going to get in the future.  When my camera dies, which I am sure it will eventually do, I’ll take his and then he can invest in a higher end one. We’ve certainly gotten our money’s worth out of these cameras, and I don’t mind at all investing on something more expensive in the future.  See I am weird like that. (The problem with me buying any new lenses for our either of our cameras (they’re the same model) is that lenses are expensive, and our cameras have a pretty heavily cropped sensor. You can poke around the internet to find out what that means, but basically our sensor is cropped at 1.64, which makes a 10mm wide angle lens take pictures as though it were a 16mm lens. Not really much point in spending the money on a lens if I’m not really getting my money’s worth out of it. – Lee)
On our way back to the campsite we took the scenic drive 123 along the Colorado River.  It was a beautiful drive with several BLM campsites right on the river, that I wanted to check out. The first was Goose Island Campground and had several sites that would work for a big rig.  It was all first-come, first serve and internet was pretty spotty, but still very pretty along the water and much cooler than out in the open.  There is also a really nice bike trail that goes along the river for several miles.

Beautiful red rock cliffs all along the river

 

Farther town there was also Upper Big Bend campsite, which despite stating had no spots for big rigs, we saw several we could fit.  Sites 18 and 19 were tight side to side but would work as would 20.  We also liked 9 and 10, but site 3 was absolutely fantastic. Again all these sites are dry camping with only one bar of ATT, plus first come first serve, but they would be a great place to stay.

Site 3

 

Great views

 

We also discovered that there is a large group campground “C” at Big Bend that is across the street from the river.  It’s a really big parking lot in a canyon and from what we could see looked really cool and could hold several rigs.  I am sure there is no internet back in there and I am not sure what the cost is, but it looks like a great place for a group of friends to gather and is close to Arches and Moab.

After driving along 123 for awhile, and again great canyon and water views, we decided to turn onto the La Sal Loop.  We had read about this loop in a couple of blogs and since they said the road was OK for 4×2 we wanted to give it a try.  Lee was particularly excited because a lot of exteriors in the show West World were shot in Castle Valley, and we recognized several of the views from that show. The valley was cool, and the road was newly paved, but as we started up the mountain I started to get a little nervous because the climbs were steep, the road winding, and we suddenly lost pavement and it went to gravel.

There were even trees down in some sections and although the road was partially gravel and partially paved it was pretty scary.  No good way to turn around though so we stuck it out, but even Lee said at the end that in parts it was terrifying.  Lee loves scary roads, so that is really saying something, and I really didn’t like it at all.  If by the time you get there they’ve finished paving it, it will probably be OK, but if not I would definitely give it a pass.  Not a fan! (The problem (IMO) with roads like this, particularly going up) for a 4×2 rear wheel drive is the very thick layer of loose gravel and washboarding. Washboarding is fine at 35+ mph, but at slower speeds, which are required on hairpins and switchbacks, you bounce a LOT. Going up a steep grade in that stuff the rear tires will occasionally spin, which is no big deal, but this road is very narrow, with sheer drops of hundred of feet on the passenger side with no guard rail or even trees to stop you. With our wide dually and the terrible washboarding, the back end would frequently bump a foot or more to the right (the cliff edge) as we climbed, WAY closer to the edge than is safe. It’s the jumping that freaks me out because it’s unpredictable and uncontrollable. Everything would be fine, I would be maintaining a good 4-6″ from the edge, and then BAM, we would slip, hit a bad washboard and my right rear outside tire would be just over the edge. I don’t like my safety margin evaporating like that, especially since all takes is another bad washboard to bounce me a little farther so that the whole tire is over the edge. – Lee)

We saw these rocks in Westworld in several scenes

 

This small hill (?) in front of the mountains was really coo,l unfortunately too cloudy to get a good pic.

 

What you can’t really see he is this is the edge of the road, which goes to a very steep, yes you would die, drop-off.

 

The higher we got the more snow we saw

 

And even ran into a group of yellow pines

 In all fairness I might have enjoyed it more if it wasn’t such a cloudy day.  And it was pretty popular as we saw several mountain bikers and rock climbers while we were out, but for me it just wasn’t worth it.  It was much cooler up there though, and I could see why it would be a popular destination during the summer heat.  We saw some tent campers and even a couple smaller popups and tiny travel trailers, but I personally would not want to take my RV up any section of the road.

The newly paved road was nice

 

But a huge piece of it was dirt like this

 

And the older paved sections had huge potholes in them

We finally made it to Ken’s Lake and we checked out the campground there.  They are reserveable, had 3 bars of service, and lots of big sites.  We liked 37, 34, 29, 27, in first loop. And in the smaller second loop that is closer to the mountains we liked site 45.

Even saw a camper with some horses

 

After what was supposed to be a relaxing drive I was stressed out and said I simply needed a full day off.  Lee agreed, because the drive was tough on him as well, and he admitted he couldn’t keep up the pace. At almost 50 he doesn’t have the energy he used to, but I told him he had been the energizer bunny for 15 straight days and he should give himself a break.  He seemed a little bummed, but I promised we both had more in us, we just needed one day to rest and recuperate.

The next day I went out for a little while and got a haircut at Parriot Hair Salon, which I highly recommend.  I really enjoyed talking to Mallory about how much Moab had changed and the price at $20 was more than fair.

I also went to the Grocery store and Pizza Hut and got to experience the town a little.  The layout was a little rough though, everything on two sides of one long street, and not great parking for the dually, so I headed back and just enjoyed the rest of the day relaxing.


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.