2016 Feb 22 – Day 42 – California and Beyond – Natural Bridges

Day 42 – February 21 – Bluff to Richfield, UT

We actually set an alarm for 7:15 this morning.  We have quite a distance to travel today with a stop at Natural Bridges National Monument so we felt we needed to be on the road earlier than normal.

Also the most unfortunate thing has occurred.  We have changed direction and are now heading north west.  Durango, Colorado was our furthest eastern point.  We went west, but south, to go to Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods yesterday.  Today, though, begins the journey home.  Boo Hoo!  I don’t want to go home.  Unfortunately it needs doing once in a while.

IMG_3190 The Train Engine using one of the Twin Rocks as the smoke stack.IMG_3192But first, we have sights to see today.  As I mentioned yesterday, Charlene, the lady we met in the Twin Rocks Cafe at breakfast, had suggested we go up Mokee Dugway.  Well, this was fine with us as that is the direction we were planning to drive when we left Bluff.  What is Mokee Dugway you ask?

It is a narrow road with switch-backs straight up a 1100′ cliff.  Fun, fun. Unbelievable view!

IMG_3203 We will drive up the face of this cliff.IMG_3204 IMG_3208 IMG_3210 IMG_3211 IMG_3212 IMG_3223 IMG_3225 IMG_3227 IMG_3238 IMG_3240 IMG_3244 IMG_3249 IMG_3250 IMG_3254 IMG_3264The information below was on the counter at the Visitor’s Center at Natural Bridges National Monument.IMG_3280Once we reached the top of Mokee Dugway we drove across the mesa and on to Natural Bridges.  The Monument is totally off-grid; there are no electrical lines connected to them (they have there own generator that will keep them supplied for 6 days).  We arrived at 10:30.  There is a 9-mile loop road that takes you to good viewpoints of all three bridges and there are trails you can take down to the canyon bottom to stand under each one.IMG_3274 IMG_3276IMG_3275 IMG_3277 IMG_3278 IMG_3281 IMG_3286IMG_3298IMG_3299IMG_3300IMG_3301IMG_3302IMG_3303IMG_3304IMG_3305IMG_3312A little further along on the loop road and there is the trailhead to go to a closer viewpoint and the canyon bottom.  We decided to go down.  Read the trail description below.  Note the elevation change.  Are we crazy or what?

IMG_3315 IMG_3316 IMG_3319 IMG_3325 IMG_3326 IMG_3327IMG_3328 IMG_3332 IMG_3333 IMG_3337 Looking straight up the cliff wall.IMG_3338 IMG_3339 IMG_3340 IMG_3341 IMG_3344 You can’t see it, but our truck is parked up there not far from the trees on the rim.IMG_3347 IMG_3349 IMG_3357 IMG_3358We turned around from the bridge view and started to go down along the trail to the bottom but there was lots of snow and ice and it is a precarious trail in the summer so we decided not to risk life and limb and climbed back up to the truck to move on to the next bridge. We may be crazy, but we are not stupid.IMG_3361There is also the ruins of a cliff dwelling here so we walked the trail down to the viewpoint to see it.IMG_3363 IMG_3364 IMG_3365 IMG_3366 IMG_3367 IMG_3371 IMG_3372 IMG_3374 A sun bonnet? A UFO?IMG_3377 IMG_3378 IMG_3379 IMG_3381 IMG_3382 IMG_3383 IMG_3385 IMG_3386As usual the dwelling is in a crevass high up from the canyon floor and way down from the canyon rim.IMG_3389 IMG_3392 IMG_3393 IMG_3394 IMG_3398IMG_3396

Can you see the bear?IMG_3406 IMG_3407IMG_3415IMG_3431IMG_3432IMG_3433We read the trail description and didn’t even think about attempting this one. I really wanted to walk under one of the bridges so I was now hoping that the last one would be a bit more accessible than the first two. It would be much smarter to try these in the spring.

IMG_3417IMG_3418IMG_3434IMG_3419IMG_3423IMG_3437aThe last bridge is Owachomo and it is the easiest to walk to.  Yea!  Off we went.

IMG_3440 IMG_3441 IMG_3442 IMG_3443 IMG_3444 IMG_3445 IMG_3446 IMG_3448 IMG_3454 IMG_3457 IMG_3461 IMG_3463 IMG_3466We walked under the bridge and around these big rocks and discovered a double-spring-fed pool.IMG_3474 IMG_3477 IMG_3480 IMG_3481 The bridge looks nicer from the back, I think.IMG_3483 IMG_3492 IMG_3494 IMG_3495 Lichen on the rocks.IMG_3501After we returned from under the bridge we had some lunch and completed the loop.  The ranger at the Visitor’s Center had told us this Indian story to explain the twin bluffs on the mesa top.IMG_3502IMG_3503IMG_3511IMG_3506IMG_3512IMG_3515This is called the Cheese Box.




We left Natural Bridges at 2 o’clock and headed for Richfield, over 250 miles away. There was a notice of an  historical marker on the highway near the end of White Canyon so we pulled in and found this big sign and a fenced grave.  The view was nice a bit further behind this area. IMG_3525 IMG_3527 IMG_3528IMG_3530This distinctive formation is called Jacob’s Chair.IMG_3534IMG_3539IMG_3560We drove along the edge of  White Canyon for about 25 miles and then crossed the bridge at the end of Glen Canyon where it meets Cataract Canyon.  Those cliffs branch out in all directions.  Every time we turned a corner there was an arm of the canyon.  It was incredible. Hard to get a photo of though because it was usually aways from the road and there are so many shelves and ledges it is hard to distinguish all the twist, turns and angles.IMG_3562 IMG_3565IMG_3568 IMG_3570 IMG_3571 IMG_3572 IMG_3573 IMG_3575 Have I mentioned that I love Utah!  The colours and shapes of rocks and bluffs and cliffs and buttes are neverending.  It is great.IMG_3576 IMG_3579 IMG_3581We stopped at Hite Viewpoint to learn that the town had been moved because the damming of the Colorado River covered the original town and created Lake Powell.IMG_3585 IMG_3586 IMG_3587 IMG_3593 IMG_3602 IMG_3603 IMG_3604 IMG_3605 IMG_3606 IMG_3607 IMG_3610 IMG_3615 IMG_3616 IMG_3623We stopped at Hollow Mountain in Hanksville for some gas.  The store and restrooms and storage areas are cut deep into solid rock. Reminded me of our hotel in Coober Peedy where they dig the opal mines in Australia.

IMG_3625 IMG_3627From Hanksville going west on Highway 50 we entered Capital Reef National Park. We had explored this park when we came down here in 2012 so I was good and didn’t ask John to stop anywhere.  I just snapped lots photos out the car window.

IMG_3629 IMG_3631 IMG_3637 IMG_3640 IMG_3645 IMG_3646 IMG_3648 IMG_3653 IMG_3656 IMG_3658 IMG_3659 IMG_3664 IMG_3666 IMG_3668 IMG_3670IMG_3675 IMG_3677 IMG_3678From the western boundary of Capital Reef it is 63 miles to Richfield.  We drove down the hill and into town at 6:30.  It was along day.IMG_3680 IMG_3683 IMG_3687 IMG_3693 IMG_3701 IMG_3703 IMG_3704 But another good one.IMG_3705


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