If the building in my photo looks familiar, maybe this will jog your memory:
”Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head ...”
Yes, this is the location for the famous “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” bicycle scene, as well as several other less well-known films. The building formed the backdrop as Butch took Etta for a ride on the then new-fangled invention.
Grafton is fairly well-preserved, although not restored to the extent that some ghost towns are, so it retains a lot of character and is very photogenic. It is also rarely visited despite its proximity to popular Zion National Park. Access is down a four mile dirt road, but perfectly manageable in a standard car – we were fine in our hired Toyota.
The town was established in 1859 as a settlement for cotton-growers farming the fertile plains next to the Virgin River. Frequent floods and Indian attacks caused problems for these early pioneers, but some persisted and the town became quite successful. It lasted until the 1930s when residents moved away to better land in Hurricane, 30 miles west. Today you can still see several of the buildings, including a church and the large house featured in the film. There is also an interesting the old cemetery, with a few dozen graves from the period 1860 – 1910. Inscriptions tell of the harsh conditions experienced by Grafton’s early settlers, such as the three Berry brothers (and one wife), all killed by Indians on April 2nd 1866, or the five children of John and Charlotte Ballard, all of whom died between 1865 and 1877, all under the age of 10.
Directions Turn south from UT-9 near Rockville on Bridge Lane, cross the Virgin River (on a single-track iron bridge), and follow road, which soon becomes unpaved. due west. After 2 miles the main road curves back south, while the road to Grafton turns off to the right, parallel to the river.
In the south of Utah, more or less at the border between Utah and Arizona, Paria Canyon stretches out for miles.
(however, this would be another off-the-beaten-track tip).
For now, Paria River Valley Road leads through a stunning scenery of the typical rock formation of Utah - all different red-orange-yellow-pink colors, depending on the iron oxide content.
Paria River Valley Road starts at HWY 89 (between Kanab/UT and Page/AZ) at milepost 31 (that's what the website says; when we were there, we just saw the roadsign saying "ghosttown") to the north. It's non-paved, so drive carefully (but possible with a non-4x4 car).
At the end of the road, there is a kind of ghosttown, with an old abandoned movie set (however it might be destroyed by now).
Wonderful quiet landscape, small hikes are possible. Remains of the old mormon town Pahreah, even with an old cemetry.
Kodachrome Basin State Park both benefits and suffers by its proximity to neighboring Utah National and State Parks. While true those drawn to parks like Bryce Canyon National Park will likely be intrigued with a stop here if time permits, it is inevitable there will be comparisons between the two. Most would probably rate Bryce as more spectacular than Kodachrome but each park has its own merits and if one is seeking a little solitude it is far more likely in the latter. With evidence of a Geothermic past ala Yellowstone, Kodachrome Basin stands as a more profuse conglomeration of colors and its array of odd shaped and multi-colored chimneys stand testament to being dubbed Kodachrome after the Kodak Film Company's popular product of the time of its inception. However you shoot it, Kodachrome Basin State Park offers a great place to camp in a beautiful desert terrain with nice short hikes amongst some very scenic rock formations.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park would likely have National status if it were not for its misfortune of being located within a day's drive of eight other National wonders in its home state alone; not to mention the North Rim of the Grand Canyon a stone's throw below in Arizona. Framed by scenic red cliffs ala Zion and dense green forest of Juniper and Pinyon, the coral colored sand dunes stand out in stark contrast to form the 3700 acre State Park. ATV drivers rejoice in their good fortune but at least some of the stunningly scenic area is off limits to motorized vehicles and the gorgeous campground remains fairly tranquil. Climb the dunes or sit in serenity, but most of all let nature's beauty seep into your heart like tiny grains of sand trickling from above.
While Utah is best known for its wonderful natural attractions, Newspaper Rock State Park gives us an opportunity to pause and think about the people who came this way long before us and no doubt were as awed by this landscape as we are today. Here etched into a 200 square foot chunk of sandstone are the images and symbols carved by different cultures over 2,000 years of human habitation in this area. The first carvings were made around 2,000 years ago, and although a few are as recent as the early 20th century, left by the first modern day explorers of this region, the main groups have been attributed to the Anasazi (AD 1 to 1300), Fremont (AD 700 to 1300) and Navajo (AD 1500 onwards). What is more, unlike many other similar sites, this one is very easily accessible and very clear to see. Time and weather have varnished the stone with a black patina and the carvings stand out very clearly, as you can see from my photos.
The rock is right next to Utah Route 211, 24 miles northwest of Monticello on the main road into the Needles section of Canyonlands National Park. But I have placed it here as “Off the Beaten Path” because apparently most visitors to the region hurry past without even realising what they are missing, I’m so glad my research pointed me towards it so that we knew to stop and see this record of human history.
There are no facilities here to speak of, apart from a parking area and picnic site. Camping is not allowed. There is no entrance fee.
Among the delights of touring in the US are the quirky “one of a kind” sights that you can come across from time to time. Often tacky, always somewhat kitsch, these make an occasional change from the wonderful landscapes and capture our imaginations in a very different but nevertheless enjoyable way. One such sight is Utah’s Hole N" The Rock, south of Moab. Here a 5,000 square foot home has been carved out of a sandstone cliff. This home was the dream, and in part the creation, of Albert Christensen. After 12 years of labour, during which he also carved this sculpture of Franklin D Roosevelt on the rock face above the entrance, he died in 1957, leaving his widow Gladys to carry on and fulfil his dream. She completed the 14 room house and developed it into a visitor attraction. She died in 1974 and the couple are buried here near the home they built and loved.
Since we visited it seems further attractions have been added, such as a petting zoo, but it is the house itself that you should consider stopping for. The interior is something to behold! Unfortunately photography was not allowed inside, so check out the photo gallery on the website to see what I mean.
Entry costs %5.00 for adults and $3.50 for children, who I imagine would love it here.
Directions 12 Miles South of Moab Utah on US Highway 191
Though only under state protection since 1964, Goblin Valley State Park was already an attraction as dubbed “Mushroom Valley” by Arthur Chaffin during his photographic shoot in 1949. His attraction to the area dates back to the 1920s but cowboys ran cattle through here long before that. Despite the remoteness of the valley, it would seem very unlikely that Native Americans did not hold it in some reverence when one looks upon the amazing conglomeration of mystical rocks.
Erosion and the raising of the Colorado Plateau may explain this unusual formation but the story of its effect on man when he first saw it can only be imagined. Fortunately for us, we can imagine it pretty well as it is likely the same one we have when stumbling upon this jumble of red rock that seems to stand to this day as an army of goblins acting sentry to the Henry Mountains just beyond. A visit here at sunset is truly magical.
On a recent visit to Arches national park, I approached the park from the northeast and followed the marked exit from interstate 70 south on highway 191. As I left the park I decided to take highway 128 on the east side of the park. WOW! This was a much nicer drive. Most of the way the highway paralleled the Colorado River with pretty red rock on either side of the road.
This looks like a really touristy stop and I guess it is but if you don't do any shopping it can be a very pleasant place to have lunch. There are your usual trinket shops and a restaurant but there is also a free park with nice rest rooms for the budget traveler. It's just on the outskirts of Moab but it came in handy for us as we'd spent a bit of time checking out the Matrimony Springs and gorge north of town. It gave us a place to enjoy a nice lunch before tackling the drive to Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, about 100 miles away.
This park is located 15 miles east of Escalante on Scenic Byway 12. There is a campground and picnic area here as well as a six mile round trip hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls.
I have seen many photos of the falls and they are quite beautiful. They fall 126 feet into a deep pool surrounded by trees.
We had hoped to do the hike but the skies were very grey and it had just started to rain. I hope to return one day and make the hike out to the waterfall.
After our visit to Arches, it was time to head north and east toward the I-70. I looked at our map and saw that there was a scenic highway designated by dots along the road. It "seemed" like a short cut to the junction of the I-70 near Cisco --- a mere 43 miles.
NATIONAL SCENIC BYWAY 128 begins 3 miles north of Moab. Sheer walls of red sandstone contrast with the flowing waters of the Colorado River, which runs adjacent to this scenic route. This road, which gets quite narrow in some places, has some of the most amazing scenery I have seen in a long time. There was also so many great river side camping areas and as it was getting late, I even jokingly suggested to Hans that we camp there overnight, after all we brought a little two-man tent. hehe! Except that there wasn't any restaurants or even little MOM & POP places to eat and it was cold. So we carried on and carried on. We seemed to be getting nowhere fast. When the river faded away, the landscape got boring. Is 43 miles sooooo far? Finally, we got sight of traffic in the distance - yeah! It's the I-70.
For a truly amazing photographic experience, try Paria Canyon! The entrance to this place is in Utah, however soon you will cross over to the Arizona side. It's 3 miles in to a spot called 'The Wave', a geographical wonder! The walk is fair to moderate, however there are no signpoints and no path so you have to use your orienteering skills to locate this spot. It is not advisable to go for the walk unless you get permission from the park rangers the day before you walk in. If you research this place, you will understand why. It's lovely, but if you get lost, you will want someone to know where you are so they can send someone for you! There are 'maps' of a sort on the internet you can print off to help you find this place. I do not believe it is advisable to camp out in this area overnight. You are also required to bring out with you anything that you bring in with you, including toilet paper, food wrappers, bottles, etc. Check it out!
Johnson Canyon can be used as a through road if coming from Page and going up towards the Bryce Canyon area. Easy paved road at the beginning becomes graded dirt after about 25 kms and is treacherous in the wet. Has the added interest of being the home of the "Gunsmoke" film set, plus about 50 other films have some scenes shot here. The movie set is on private grounds and was closed to the public for many years but apparently there is a plan to restore it and there will be guided tours. The movie set is about 8 kms up the canyon road from Hwy. 89. The canyon road starts about 16 kms from Kanab and is also the route for Willis Creek and Bull Valley slot canyons that I have yet to visit.
Update from Sept.'09 - All the photos are from Sept. 2009 showing that nothing in the way of renovation had been undertaken since my first time here in 2003.
This is an experience for those that have a sense of adventure and a head for heights. This road takes from near Boulder to Escalante as an alternative to Hwy 12. Constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930's it is an unpaved spectacular drive up through the Dixie Forest. I stopped at the Hell's backbone bridge for a walkabout and to take in the views. The bridge is actually just a one lane wooden one with steep drop-offs down to Box/Death Hollow Canyons that meet up at this point, and it is nearly 2800 metres high. On the way back down we met up with some curious wild mule deer.
The spectacular Great Gallery is awesome to behold with ghostlike images, most without arms, just long flowing robes. Some of the images are over 2 metres high. On other parts of the gallery can be seen hunting scenes, the bighorn sheep are quite clear. But, what does it all mean ? Nobody has worked it out yet, although there are plenty of theories.
I urge you to have a look at the pdf file booklet on the archaeology of the area from the NPS site address or directly with address given in the previous tip. Very interesting for those interested. The Moab visitors centre has a leaflet available to help you find other sites, but nothing as large as the Great Gallery.
Although I haven't visited it yet there is another major pictograph and petroglyph site at 9-mile canyon near Price, Utah. http://climb-utah.com/Misc/ninemile.htm
Stayed for 3 nights. The room was very clean and spacious. Housekeepers were always prompt and did a...more
This is the only campground in Arches National Park. There are 52 site to choose from. Current...more
It's more like a motel that a hotel but it's nice and it's the best place to stay in vicinity of the...more