We left Sedona and headed north to Lake Powell for a few days of enjoying Utah. We pulled into the Walmart in the town of Lake Powell around 7:30. We solved our refrigerator problem with an extra cooler and lots of ice!
In the morning we continued towards Bryce Canyon. Had we drove an hour longer the night before we could have stayed on Lake Powell at a great beach where you drive down on the sandy beach and park, views were wonderful so we highly recommend you make this stop called Lone Rock Beach Campground.
As we continued our drive we were passing another famous stop, “The Wave” a beautiful rock formation in Antelope Canyon. This place is very famous and few ever get the opportunity to take the hike and see the beautiful rocks. To see this park you either book it three years in advance, it seem that way, really many months in advance, or sit for the 9:00 AM lottery held each day for the ten positions to hike into it. We signed up for the lottery and waited with 200 of our new friends as the numbers were called. No luck, some friends they were , you would have thought they would have given us their winning ticket!
The Grand Staircase, which includes Bryce Canyon, is more remote and less visited. It is spectacular and contains the most extensive network of slot canyons in Utah. That evening we checked into a cute RV place owned by a local family in “downtown Escalante”.
“Hell’s Backbone Road” and Boulder Ranch
Janice use to keep and ride her horse Durango in a nearby ranch called Boulder Ranch. Sioux and Bob owned the ranch and had many visitors as part of Trek America where they would take the participants on horseback into the Escalante’s. They owned a large house where they and their two sons lived. They had bunk rooms downstairs where Janice stayed. Most often Janice’s friend Marty also came as well. We helped move the cattle and explored the mountains and valleys, this was before John became a part of the family.
In the morning we started to drive “Hell’s Backbone Road”, the only road until Route 12 was completed between Escalante and Boulder in 1983. Hells Backbone runs from juniper desert up into the lush pine and aspen forest on Boulder Mountain. It was built by CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) workers during the Great Depression era.
It was a “washboard” dirt/grave road, only open during late spring and summer. The road was rough but the views were sensational, many Ponderosa Pines along the way. About mid-way along the route, the road crossed the historic old, wooden Hells Backbone Bridge. In that area it follows contours just above the Box/Death Hollow Wilderness Area, and provides outstanding views down into rugged canyons as you can see from the pictures.
Janice wanted to show John the old Boulder Ranch that her friends owned, but sold a number of years ago. she thought that we would have to drive out of our way once we got to the town of Boulder. As we came to the end of “Hell’s Backbone” she said “this is where the ranch was” and sure enough a little farther up we came to the turn into the ranch and drove on down. John had heard so many stories about the ranch, it was great to finally see it. We spoke with a guy that worked at the new place now a huge house, Sioux and Bobs master is now the kitchen and the family that purchased the property just bought the neighboring ranch and plan on having artists of all kinds stay there, a far cry for the working ranch with cattle and horses.
Janice use to fly to Las Vegas with saddle and chaps in hand on Delta, then transfer to a small Cesna and land at a local dirt landing strip, where the owners of the ranch would pick her up. The many stories of the rides and herding of the cattle where great and fun to hear over a drink or two!
We drove into Boulder Utah, a three store town, and headed up to Capitol Reef National Park. The park is beautiful cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges in the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic monocline (a wrinkle on the earth) extending almost 100 miles.
Capital Reef National Park
There is an eight mile drive to the end of the canyon, and then you can take a narrow unpaved road, Capitol Gorge Road, another two miles where the canyon walls are above you. The Waterpocket Fold defines Capitol Reef National Park. A nearly 100-mile long warp in the Earth’s crust, the Waterpocket Fold is a classic monocline, a “step-up” in the rock layers. The uplift of the entire Colorado Plateau and the resulting erosion has exposed this fold at the surface within the last 15 to 20 million years.
Hole in the Rock story
On our way back to Escalante we took a dirt road to try and find the “Hole in the Rock” where the Morman’s in 1880 made their way down to the Colorado River. The Mormons reach this point and could not turn back because of the snow in the mountains and were low on food so a decision to go forward would force them to travel through Hole-in-the-Rock—a crevice in the west wall of Glen Canyon at a high plateau above the Colorado River. Though a shortcut when compared with the only other trail of more than four hundred miles, it was a dangerous route. They persevered moving the wagons, cattle and people, an amazing feat. We had to turn back before getting to the opening, the road was too rough for out rig, but the story is tremendous talk about faith and determination, you can read the entire story by the LDS and it is worth reading. Link: Back to Hole-in-the-Rock
Canyonlands National Park
After our last night in Escalante we drove to two more of the fabulous Utah parks, Arches National Park and Canyon Lands National Park. We took the drive up to the visitor center of the Canyonlands National Park. They were spectacular views down in to the deep canyons. We choose not to hike, cannot do these difficult hikes any longer so we spent sometime near the visitor center. Some particularly beautiful views in Canyonlands National Park.
We decided to head back down to the Arches Natinal park but there was a long line so we decided to plat golf in Mohab and visit Arches early the next norning. The gold course was very nice more importantly the views were great. Nice afternoon then we parked the RV at a local park.
Arches National Park
In the morning we got up early and headed to the Arches National Park. We were ahead of the traffic so it was like having the park to ourselves. We did not hike at all so we did miss some of the wonderful formations but we spent time at the windows and driving into the park. John took a great black and white photo.
John was disappointed that we were not able to do Zion because of the rig problems, but the rest of Utah was just remarkable and as we all know we could not see all the beauty of our country in a lifetime.
The Great Salt Lake
We headed for Salt Lake City. Janice had procured a spot for the RV at the Great Salt Lake State Park. We arrived and were surprised that we got one of five spots they had. We backed up right on the lake and were able to see so much of the activity.There was a view over to what looks to be a hotel but is now used as a venue for concerts. The Saltair was originally a hotel built in 1893 by The Church of the Latter-day Saints and the Salt Lake & Los Angeles Railway Intended from the beginning as the Western counterpart to Coney Island, Saltair was one of the first amusement parks, and for a time was the most popular family destination west of New York. The church finally sold the resort in 1906 and then a fire destroyed it in 1925. It was rebuild, but the lake waters retreated and was no longer on the water. It closed until years later the buildings when was flooded and destroyed. It was later turned into the current concert venue. Here are pictures of the Saltair, before and current picture.
We watched tour buses come in and out of the state Park marina, mostly oriental tourists from China, we spoke with one young lady there with her parents that were visiting her from China, she is a college student at University of Texas.