Along Hwy 24 you will pass by several scenic lookouts including a spot to view ancestral Puebloan petroglyphs which have been carved into the cliff side.
I didn't find this display as impressive as Newspaper Rock near Moab, but it was worth the stop to stretch our legs and admire the surrounding red sandstone cliffs.
This is a wonderfully hidden gem of a place. Most people speed through Capitol Reef quickly anyway and most never hear about or have the vehicle to allow them to reach this northern section. Thus it has remained remote, and a quiet desert place seldom visited. It is only recently that I was finally able to reach this place myself and it was so worth it. The round trip loop which I highly recommend is a 60 mile dirt road suitable only for high clearance vehicles, 4x4 may be needed at times and it is completely unpassable when wet due to it going through the Bentonite hills which form a particularly sticky, heavy clay. If you have less time then you can take the Caineville Mesa road (portions are very rough) into the Lower Cathedral Valley (30 miles rt) where you can see the Temples of the Sun and Moon and Stars. You will also pass a great section of Bentonite hills...Queen of the Wash is a 400 foot pyramid of maroon and gray stripped clay.
We loved learning about the monoliths which are the stars of the valley. They are so much better in real life than any picture - which cannot convey their massive presence.
The one campground on Hartnet Mesa has a pit toilet, six sites with tables and firepits, but no water and all waste must be packed out. From here you can see 360 degress around to the Henry Mountains, Caineville Mesas, Thousand Lake Mountain, Aquarius Plateau and Upper Cathedral Valley.
A short side trip before getting into Zion Canyon is a visit to Grafton. Grafton is a small ghost town made famous by the scenes from 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" where Paul Newman rides his bicycle around with Katherine Ross on the front bars and the song "Raindrops keep falling on my head" is playing behind. Not much left now, a couple of wooden shacks and the old cemetary. Even the front porch of the outlaws house has been set on fire by vandals. On Hwy 9 in Rockville cross the iron bridge over the river, about 600 metres on your right is the Grafton road, just follow it round for a km or two. This is a dirt road not recommended in wet weather but it's not that far from civilisation so help is just around the corner.
Although officially part of Canyonlands N.P., Horseshoe Canyon is a seperate entity, not even attached to "The Maze". A lovely hike down the cliff and into the canyon itself is a bit steep in places but well-marked with cairns and traces of passage. Turning right at the bottom you walk along the streambed. I was here in April and there was very little water in the bed so no need for wet weather footwear. Afair distance along you first come to the Alcove where there are a set of Pictographs. Further along there is the Shelter where the images are so much clearer. Upon reaching the end of the canyon after a slight bend, wonder of wonders, "The Great Gallery" appears. Approx. 50 metres long the panel painted in the "Barrier Canyon"** style is like a giant slap in the face. Standing looking at these images that may be up to 5000 y.o. is so moving. When we arrived there were two rangers there who gave us a detailed visit of the gallery. Stupendous!!!
One of the highlights of my first trip to this side of the U.S. The whole hike is about 10 kms there and back and in all can take 5/6 hours. Make sure you have enough water for the climb out of the canyon.
**Horshoe Canyon used to be called Barrier Canyon and Barrier Canyon style was a term first used by Polly Schaafsma an expert on rock art. For those that wish to learn a bit more about the style can have a look here. http://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/upload/HorshoeBook.pdf
Another site for a look at the gallery is :http://www.so-utah.com/capitol/horsshoe/homepage.html
Directions : From Ut.24 there is an entrance close to the Goblin Valley turnoff on the opposite side of the road. almost 50 kms of graded dirt but with a fair amount of sand. Passable in good weather. Have a map with you as navigation is not easy. Another route in is directly from Green River along 75 kms of graded dirt.
We drove through Capitol Reef National Park on our way from Moab to Bryce Canyon. The park is located 9 miles east of Scenic Byway 12 on Hwy 24.
You will pass by an impressive array of coloured cliffs, domes and canyons. Many of the domes are white in colour and it reminded early pioneers of the nation's capitol, hence the name, Capitol Reef.
Soldier Summit is the name given to the mountain pass where US Highway 6 reaches its highest elevation. Soldier Summit, which is located about midway between Provo and Price, was named in honor of Utah's war veterans. There is a very nice highway rest stop located near the summit. The rest stop is a popular picnic area.
This photo which was shot from a quiet chat road that runs adjacent to the rest stop, is highly representative of the high desert landscape of central Utah. The photo was taken in early September before snow blankets the area. The countryside was still covered with yellow sage blooms at the time. The great Sanoran Desert has a charm all of its own. Please take the time to enjoy it.
If you love the outdoors, and are visiting Zion National Park, you may enjoy a side trip to Snow Canyon State Park. This 5,739 acre park is a great place for photography, hiking, biking, and camping. This is a colorful canyon with red Navajo sandstone formations, some capped by an overlay of black lava rock, making them even more striking. You will also find an area of petrified sand dunes. Here the red sandstone has wonderful textures, giving any camera buff a number of interesting shots. This park is 11 miles northwest of St. George. It includes a campground with 17 RV sites and 34 tent sites, restrooms, hot showers, some electric hookups for RVs, a dump station, and an overflow campground that is used during busy times. There is a day use fee of $5 per car.
Monument Valley may conjure visions of John Wayne and the Wild West but this is Navajo country. It is not a National Park as some would have it but a full fledged Tribal Park. While it is true that many a spaghetti western was filmed here and the scenic bluffs that dot the otherwise bleak horizon are about as American as apple pie, Native Americans have held the place sacred long before John Ford emblazoned it on celluloid. Would it be run better as a National Park? Probably. Would they be building a big hotel visible from its famous Mittens bluffs? Probably not. For better or worse, this is one park you will experience in all its Native glory. Its beauty shines through despite what feels like mismanagement. You will somehow feel you are no longer in the good old USA. That's okay, you're not. You're in Navajo country.
Monument Vally Tribal Park is in Arizona, but right up against the Utah border in the far north of the state. You can visit if from Utah at their state park with the same name.
The rock art of the Anazazi is all over the state, you only have to pay attention, some is easy to access, some you need to go on some dirt roads and some can only be reached by hiking. You can see the variety here in this picture. Use your imagination, there is a guy taking his dinosaur for a walk, a jack in the box, some guy dancing hip-hop an armadillo and some other things.
There are certainly plenty of places to get off the pavement in Utah. From the Northern mountains to the western desert to the southern red rocks. Years ago I picked up at book called Scenic byways and backways of Utah. Slowly I've tried to get to all of them. More recently I picked up the book called Utah Byways, 65 of Utah Best Backcountry drives by Tony Huegel.
I love the PONY EXPRESS trail. This 129 miles dirt road looks and feels much like it would have 150 yrs ago when stagecoaches and pony express riders rode the dirt playa to California.
I love the OUTLAW TRAIL out of Vernal. Here is where the Wild Bunch would hide, or take the trails between Wyoming and central Utah. It is still wild west with a few ranches, some good fishing on the Green and the John Jarvie Ranch restoration to explore.
The WEDGE OVERLOOK in the San Rafael Desert covers part of the old Spanish Trail. The route from Santa Fe to the missions of California had to go the long way around the Grand Canyon and desert plateaus surrounding it. There are views of the Little Grand Canyon of the San Rafael river, and in Buckthorn Wash dinosaur prints and ancient Indian petroglyphs.
The WHITE RIM TRAIL in Canyonlands National Park winds 103 miles along a plateau reached via several white knuckle roads down from the mesa top. Camping on the trail requires advance permits that go quickly in the prime Spring and Fall months.
The COTTONWOOD WASH or JOHNSON CANYON/SKUTUMPAH roads in Grand Staircase-Escalante provide great views and off the beaten paths options. From the Cottonwood road you can see Grosvenor Arch or the Round Valley slot canyons, explore the Cottonwood Coxscomb and narrows. From the Johnson Canyon you can visit Willis, Lick or Bull Gorge Slots.
There are plenty of others, those are just the ones I've been on. It is important with dirt road travel that you have the right vehicle that you are well prepared with vehicle repair items and have sufficient water and food for any emergency as you are often miles of empty desert or mountain away from help.
its not really off a beaten path..its an interstate!!...but on this stretch of I-70 there are no gas stations...resturaunts...anything of that matter for 108 miles...what you do have is an exhilerating drive...unbelievable scenery and little traffic...miles and miles of rock formations and monoliths and mountains..and at 75 mph(you can go 80) its a rush!! There are dozens of rest stops each more breathtaking (and picture taking) than the next...Any time of day any time of year..spend some time here...not just blazing thru!!
Originally settled in 1882 but only incorporated in 1999,lying on the intersection of Hwys 24 and 95, and not far from Capitol Reef N.P. and Goblin Valley, Hanksville is one of the original remote "frontier" towns (pop. 203 at last census 2006). There are a couple of good stores for stocking up, a couple of motels I didn't find and Hollow Mountain filling station, but apart from that........We just took a walk into the historic section for a couple of photos and found the "one-horse" part of town.
Along Hwy 24 heading towards Capitol Reef and Torrey, about 8 kms from Hanksville is this strange scene, showing all that remains of the ghost town of Giles. There is a small parking lot with an information board. Settlers came here in the 1880's to farm the land on the banks of the Fremont River, but after withstanding much flooding and ruined crops, by 1919 the town was empty. Depicted on the photos are the relics at the entrance to the old "Blue Valley" farm. The original town site is further on, down the trail, but when I tried to walk there I was halted bya swift flowing creek. Apparently there are only a couple of roofless crumbling ruins to see now.
Not far from Green River is a cold water geyser going by the name of Crystal. Apparently it goes off once every 10/12/15 hours. There's not a lot of people actually stay there long enough to have a good idea, so even in town we found no-one that could actually pin the time down. So, of course we didn't see it, but did witness quite a bit of hubbling and bubbling. The owner of the motel we stayed in gave us the reason for the pipe that is rammed into the head of the geyser and that it is a security measure. A while ago in another area, a small child slipped into a geyser's head as wide as this one, so there was a widespread panic over all geysers that are in un-watched areas such as this. Green River solved the problem of this one by having this long pipe rammed into it. Not very aesthetic but......
The road out is quite simple : Follow Main street out to the east past the truck stop (they do a great breakfast) and over the I-70. a hundred metres on take the left at the T-junction. Follow this through to the first crossroads and turn right. There is an information board here and a couple of old buildings that are part of an ancient missile site. From there follow the road round always keeping to your right. There are a couple of signs to help out.
I've floated several stretches of several rivers. The 10- to 12-day Grand Canyon trips are wonderful, but you can do a trip that's almost equal to it in five days, floating through Canyonlands National Park. You start on the Green River and float down to where the Green flows into the Colorado. Then you ride the Colorado through major rapids and end up in Lake Powell.
I did that trip with three people from Amsterdam, plus a nine Americans from throughout the country. The outfitters fixed great meals --- grilled beefsteaks, grilled salmon steaks, fresh salads, baked chicken, etc., and plenty of wine or soda to go with it.
We hiked through side canyons, explored Anasazi ruins, and generally had the time of our lives.
I can recommend a Canyonlands float. We used Holiday outfitters and loved them. I booked more trips with them later. But there are several competent outfitters from which to choose.
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