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June 20, 2001  (Canyon de Chelly, Arizona) < Previous News  |  Next News >


Cruising 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 

  • Stopping at 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.

Requires a RealPlayerIf problems, see Help.


Here 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 America.

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 National Monument.

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 killer.

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 and headed into Arizona, where I spent a night at Canyon de Chelly ("da Shay") National 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.


For as 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.



Above left:  The Visitor Center at Canyon de Chelly National Monument. 

Above center:  House Under the Rock overlook.

Above right:  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.



Next News

June 24, 2001  (Austin, Texas)



Previous News

June 18, 2001  (Clay Canyon, Utah)

June 15, 2001 -- Part 2  (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)

June 15, 2001 -- Part 1  (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)

June 14, 2001  (San Diego, California)

June 11, 2001  (San Jose, California)

June 2, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)

May 19, 2001  (Hillsboro, Oregon)

April 30, 2001  (Hillsboro, Oregon)

April 19, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)

April 5, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)


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Home > Travels (2001-02) > U.S. Trip > June 20, 2001