Traveling Through Southern Utah
Southern Utah is my favorite part of America, and for many reasons:
probably the most remote area in the Lower 48 states and it's not unusual to
find vistas with no trace of mankind for as far as you can see. It's
incredibly quiet here.
love the barren and bizarre red sandstone landscapes that are so common
enjoy hot and dry desert climates (be aware, though, that southern Utah
can get pretty cold and snowy in the winter).
vast majority of land in Utah is publicly owned, mostly managed by the
Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service, or National Park
Service, and is therefore open to public recreation.
I'm interested in the Mormon culture (see my page on
Utah: Mormons and Polygamy).
get down to Utah as often as I can, at least once every couple of years.
Here are some photos from my recent visit.
Above left: Lake Powell was formed in the 1960s when the Colorado River was
dammed. It's become a boater's paradise and is dotted with numerous marinas, including this one at Bullfrog. With all of the dams, reservoirs, and marinas in this area,
it's hard to imagine
the one-armed Major John Wesley Powell floating down the turbulent waters of the Colorado River
in 1869, strapped in a chair to the deck of his wooden boat.
Above center: The last
discovered mountain range in the continental United States were the Henry
Mountains in southeastern Utah. They were
discovered, named, and explored by the Powell boat expeditions down the Colorado
River in 1869 and
1871. Even today, the Henrys are probably the most isolated mountain range
in the Lower 48 states.
Above right: Lake
Powell and the Colorado River Bridge from Utah Highway 95.
Above left: Just roll down the window and let the wind blow through your
hair as you cruise on Utah Highway 95, one of my favorite drives in
Above center: There are three bridges at Natural Bridges National Monument,
including Sipapu Bridge shown here. Natural bridges are pretty rare and
form when rivers cut through rock walls, unlike arches which are formed by
wind erosion or dripping water. Trails lead to each of the three
bridges here, but I didn't have time on this trip to hike down.
Above right: These are Anasazi Indian ruins near Natural Bridges National
Monument. There are Indian ruins or cliff dwellings in almost every canyon
of southeastern Utah, many of which are still undiscovered.
Above left: A roadcut on Highway 95 through Comb Ridge.
Above center: Here's y truck parked on the "slickrock" (i.e., sandstone) at Arch
Canyon near Natural Bridges. This is one of my
favorite campsites in the U.S. There are hundreds of beautiful
camping spots like this scattered around Utah on public land. There aren't
facilities, but it's free... and there's no one within miles.
Above right: I'm taking in the incredible vista at Muley Point
Overlook. As strange as it sounds, I thought I heard the faint murmurs of
Navajo chanting and drumming here. Maybe I had too many Pepsi's for breakfast!
Above left: There are a lot of exciting roads in Utah including graveled Highway 261, with switchbacks
that climb a thousand feet above the desert floor.
Above center: The goosenecks of the San Juan River is one of the best examples
of incised meanders in the world. These occur when the land rises and
the river continues to cut down into its channel. Talk about being in a
Above right: The
historic district of Bluff, Utah. In the late 1800s, the Mormon leader Brigham Young ordered a group
of Mormons to create an outpost in southeastern Utah. Traveling to this
remote area was an arduous task, and the pioneers had to cut a huge hole in a
sandstone cliff (which is still there) and lowered wagons down by rope and
pulley. They settled here at Bluff simply because they were too exhausted
to go any further. Bluff today is pleasant little town with about 500