This three mile section of highway 261 can scare you, but by the time you reach it from either direction the detour is too far away and you might as well just bite the bullet and head down the 1,100 foot cliff down off the Cedar Mesa. Some say it is easier to go north (up) rather than south (down), and I have to admit it did seem less intimidating doing it that way. From the top you can see the road carved into the cliff, but from the bottom all you can see is that immense cliff looming ahead.
There is a small turnoff near the top you will want to stop at in order to get a full view of the road, and surrounding desert. It is definitely awe inspiring.
- Road Trip
Valley of the Gods
Just west of Bluff is one end of the 17 mile dirt road that wanders through Valley of the Gods. It is an aptly named desert scene. Deeper red than the formations at nearby Monument Valley, but similar in many ways. They are not so numerous as to overwhelm.
Just be careful on the road, it is winding and narrow with many sharp turns and can be subject to wash out if there have been rains. This is BLM land and no charge to tour.
I was too astounded to take any pictures. I knew none of them would do any justice at all.
San Juan Goosenecks
Not too far from Bluff is the "Goosenecks of the San Juan" Utah State Park. It is worth driving down the paved road,,,five miles or so off the main highway. You can see the Raplee incline in the background. And glimpses of Monument Valley are in the distance. There is no charge, and usually no people. There are simple facilities and a picnic table with views out over the edge of the cliff
While the plateau on top where you stand is relatively level the San Juan river has cut 1,000 ft down through the Pennsylvanian Hermosa formation. The rocks are layered neatly like a multi-layered cake. The most impressive thing however are the goosenecks. They say long ago the river meandered slowly back and forth across a low meadow. Gradually the land uplifted and the river, stuck in its path, just continued to cut through the rock layers one at a time. A slow and leisurely float in a boat along the river will take you 5 river miles, but only 1 mile further east.
It doesn't really take too long to look, plan maybe half an hour. I like to have picnic lunch ready just so I can prolong it a little bit. You might find an Indian with jewelry to sell. It is usually very high quality and always a bargain to buy from the native artisans.
- Family Travel