Road Trip, Part 1 – Bluff to North Wash, UT, Sept. 7-9/14


Kathy and I finished up the river season on Sept. 2 and began preparing for our Fall road trip to California. The centerpiece of this trip would be the Hammerlee family reunion at Carpinteria State Beach, a tradition going back quite a number of years. Our route to California would first take us to southern Utah, where we hoped to explore some previously overlooked slot canyons tributary to the Escalante River and other sites of interest. After picking up the NY Times Sunday paper 0f 9/7 at the Dixon Market, we headed out. We traveled west via Cuba and Shiprock, NM, passed near the Four Corners, and followed the San Juan river to Bluff, UT, where we camped for the night at the Sand Wash BLM Campground and river put-in. The first photo to be seen below is the very spot, as photographed from the air earlier this year. The bridge over the San Juan is seen at bottom, with Sand Wash CG just upstream. To the left is the Bluff airport. It began raining that night.

SanJuanRiverBluffUtah557

San Juan river, at Bluff, UT

Petroglyphs on the cliff that backs the Sand Wash CG, at Bluff, UT

Petroglyphs on the cliff that backs the Sand Wash CG, at Bluff, UT

Petroglyphs on the cliff that backs the Sand Wash CG, at Bluff, UT

Petroglyphs on the cliff that backs the Sand Wash CG, at Bluff, UT

Sign at Bluff, UT

Sign at Bluff, UT

The Navajo Twins

The Navajo Twins

Our next destination was the Valley of the Gods, an area of sandstone monuments just west of Bluff. Traveling west along the loop route through this area brings you to the base of the Moki Dugway, a road that ascends to the top edge of Cedar Mesa and provides ready access to the viewpoint at Muley Point.

Prince's Plume, Valley of the Gods

Prince’s Plume, Valley of the Gods

View to the east, of Raplee Ridge. Valley of the Gods.

View to the east, of Raplee Ridge. Valley of the Gods.

Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods

Valley of the Gods

Wild buckwheat

Wild buckwheat

Very skinny pinnacle, Valley of the Gods.

Very skinny pinnacle, Valley of the Gods.

On the Moki Dugway. The dirt road from Valley of the Gods is seen in upper left. A switchback on the Dugway is seen on lower left. The road is paved here.

On the Moki Dugway. The dirt road from Valley of the Gods is seen in upper left. A switchback on the Dugway is seen on lower left. The road is paved here.

Higher on the Moki Dugway, with switchbacks in the now dirt road seen in upper right. Seen in upper left is Raplee Ridge, that overlooks the town of Mexican Hat, on the San Juan river. View to the south.

Higher on the Moki Dugway, with the now dirt road seen in upper right. Seen in upper left is Raplee Ridge, that overlooks the town of Mexican Hat, on the San Juan river. View to the south.

View to the south at Muley Point. Juniper tree with berries and the Goosenecks of the San Juan river seen beyond.

View at Muley Point. Juniper tree with berries.

Goosenecks of the San Juan river

Goosenecks of the San Juan river, at Muley Point

Desert varnish and lichen, on a sandstone boulder at Muley Point.

Desert varnish and lichen, on a sandstone boulder at Muley Point.

MuleyPoint2014Sep08_3195

Yellow flower and manzanita at Muley Point

View of volcanic pinnacles from Muley Point

View of volcanic pinnacles from Muley Point

Goosenecks of the San Juan river

Goosenecks of the San Juan river at Muley Point

Goosenecks of the San Juan river

Goosenecks of the San Juan river at Muley Point

We continued north from Muley Point, across the considerable mass of Cedar Mesa. At the junction close to Natural Bridges National Monument, we turned southwest and headed for Lake Powell, and the ferry at Bullfrog Basin. We crossed over Clay Hill Pass and arrived at the ferry to learn that we had missed its last departure of the day, at 2 PM. So, it was back over Clay Hill Pass to the junction with the road to Hite. We crossed over the Colorado River at Hite and found a nice roadside campsite in North Wash, on the way north towards Hanksville. This site was marked by a sign about the exciting canyoneering to be had in the adjacent slot canyons. It rained that night and the next morning, and we got to see ephemeral waterfalls coming off the slickrock.

View to the east at Clay Hills Pass. Muley Point and Cedar Mesa are seen on the far horizon.

View to the east at Clay Hill Pass. Muley Point and Cedar Mesa are seen on the far horizon.

Clay Hills Pass

Clay Hill Pass

Memorial at Clay Hills Pass

Memorial at Clay Hill Pass

View to the west approaching Hite, with the Henry Mountains seen on the far horizon.

View to the west approaching Hite, with the Henry Mountains seen on the far horizon.

Monument along the road to Hite

Monument along the road to Hite

View into White Canyon from the bridge that spans it, near Hite

View into White Canyon from the bridge that spans it, near Hite

Ephemeral waterfall in North Wash

Ephemeral waterfall in North Wash

Part 2 of our road trip will continue with breakfast at Hanksville, Capitol Reef National Park, the traverse of Boulder Mountain to Boulder and Escalante and finish with our next night’s camping destination, at Kodachrome Basin State Park.

https://believesteve.org/2014/10/11/road-trip-part-2-hanksville-to-red-canyon-utah-sept-10-11/

About believesteve

I am a photographer and have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-grand/id672492447?ls=1
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One Response to Road Trip, Part 1 – Bluff to North Wash, UT, Sept. 7-9/14

  1. Britt Runyon says:

    Just super! Surely the “very skinny pinnacle” has a name. lol

    Like

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