Through Southern Utah
When I last wrote, I was camping at a wonderful campsite overlooking Clay Canyon in a remote part of Utah. After leaving Clay Canyon I spent a few more days in southern Utah soaking up the sunshine. Southern Utah is really a terrific place and I drive down there at least every couple of years. Highlights after leaving Clay Canyon included:
Driving across beautiful Highway 95,
Visiting Natural Bridges National Monument, and
deserted viewpoints throughout the area, each with unbelievable vistas
Yeah, it was pretty hot but it didn't bother me and I enjoyed having much of
southern Utah to myself. So I cranked up my truck's stereo, rolled down
the windows, and watched an amazing panorama rush past my windshield at 55
miles an hour. Or maybe 60. Or . . .
Here's another good
Western tune. This is Suzy Bogguss singing Someday Soon.
RealPlayer. If problems, see
are some photos of my drive across southern Utah:
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, unexplored 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.
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: Here's my 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. No facilities, but it's free. There are hundreds of beautiful
camping spots like this scattered around Utah.
Above right: This is a small river in southern Utah that feeds
into the Colorado River. It was named by the Powell Expedition (the first
group to travel down the Colorado) in 1869 because of its sulfurous
smell. It's hard to smell today because those dirty devils at the Bureau
of Reclamation dammed up the Colorado River.
Above left: Sipapu Bridge, one of three natural bridges in Natural Bridges
Above center: The roadcut of Highway 95 through Comb Ridge.
Above right: That's me enjoying the incredible vista at Muley Point
Overlook, which overlooks much of southern Utah and northern Arizona.
There was no one within miles but, believe it or not, I heard faint Indian
drumming and chanting here. Maybe I had too many donuts for breakfast!
Above left: There are a lot of "interesting" roads in Utah
including this one, graveled Highway 261, with switchbacks that climb a thousand
feet above the desert floor.
Above center: Highway 261. As my Dad would say, that first step's a
Above right: The goosenecks of the San Juan River, a river that's definitely
stuck in a rut.
Above left: Anasazi ruins at Mule Canyon.
Above center: Here's the historic district of Bluff, Utah. In the late 1800s, Brigham Young ordered a group of Mormons to create an outpost
in southeastern Utah. Getting here was tough,
and the pioneers cut a hole in a sandstone cliff (which is still
there) to lower wagons down by rope. They settled here at
Bluff simply because they were too exhausted to go any further. Bluff
today is pleasant little town with about 500 residents.
Above right: Fueling up and getting a jumbo Diet Pepsi in Bluff.
Canyon de Chelly: Beautiful But Beware
I crossed the Utah state line in the afternoon
headed into Arizona, where I spent a night at Canyon de Chelly ("da
Monument, in the northeastern part of the state.
Canyon de Chelly is an interesting park because it's interwoven with the Navajo
Indian Reservation which completely surrounds the park. Best of all, it also has one of
the few free National Park campgrounds in the country... and I'm a pretty cheap
guy, so I was happy.
long as I can remember, though, this place has been notorious for vehicle break-ins.
During my first visit here in 1981, a park ranger quietly told me that they were
having problems in certain parts of the park with thieves from the nearby Navajo
reservation breaking into vehicles.
I've never had my truck broken into, but during my last visit here
back in 1993, I overheard a Navajo guy in a parking lot at trying to convince an older couple in an RV
to walk out to the viewpoint a half-mile away. "It's beautiful, you
really should go out there," he told them. Of course, the reason he wanted
them to leave was so that he could break into their RV.
I don't want to imply that the place is filled with
car thieves because most of the nearby Navajos are law-abiding folks (and many
of them sell great handmade jewelry at the park's pull-outs). But if you
visit Canyon de Chelly, just be careful.
The Visitor Center at Canyon de Chelly National Monument.
Above center: House Under the Rock overlook.
These are cliff
dwellings built by the Anasazi Indians around 1200 A.D. A
hundred years later the Anasazi mysteriously disappeared from the Four Corners
area, leaving their
dwellings and relics behind. No one knows why the Anasazi suddenly
disappeared, but most scientists think it was due to drought.
Above left: View from the north rim.
Above center: Spider
Rock in Canyon de Chelly. Tourists aren't allowed to travel on
the floor of the canyon except with guided Navajo tours.
Above right: The Hubbell Trading Post is one of the oldest active trading posts
in the U.S. Navajos bring in blankets and art work and trade them for
groceries, toys, and other goods. The Navajo handicrafts are, in turn,
sold to tourists like me, and everybody's happy.
24, 2001 (Austin, Texas)
18, 2001 (Clay Canyon, Utah)
15, 2001 -- Part 2 (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)
15, 2001 -- Part 1 (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)
14, 2001 (San Diego, California)
11, 2001 (San Jose, California)
2, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)
19, 2001 (Hillsboro, Oregon)
30, 2001 (Hillsboro, Oregon)
19, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)
5, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)
* * * * * * *
Travels (2001-02) >
U.S. Trip >
June 20, 2001