Capital Reef National Park, Anasazi Village, Escalante Steeps
I wonder which state has the most scenic byways? If Utah isn't the top of the list it has got to be close. Every turn, the land changes, there are federal, state parks and little jewels of towns everywhere.
Left Hanksville, UT headed down I-24 towards Capital Reef National Park. This park is in a narrow valley with the Fremont River running through it. It's been home to many settlements of Puebloan people, early western settlers, Mormons and other folk. These civilizations have come and gone with the climate and how much water is in the
river. Enough comes in now to have fruit orchards and cottonwood trees along the river. We wanted to come to this park to see the petroglyphs(carved or pecked into the rock, not painted) and other remnants of the Freemont culture from 700 to 1300 AD.
The visitor center was very good even having pots from the period. One thing the National Park Service does right is visitor center personnel and information. A ranger told us not to miss the Grand Wash Trail off of the Scenic Drive Road. Most people don't attempt it except serious hikers) as it looks too rough to drive in. But we are Truck Camper people right? Any other type of RV would have had a hard time turning at the end or on the Grand Wash Trail. We finally got to see the real Utah wild canyons, eagles and hiking trails. Did we fully walk the trail marked "extreme" into the Butch Cassidy Arch all the way to the end? No but we started it and sweated about a quart of water each. Magnificent scenery - no way do descriptions or pictures do it justice. Trailhead started at N38 15.82 W111 12.97. Echo Cliff was just that with the crows calling and echoing like a chorus.
Continued on to the end of the Scenic Drive, across many areas that get flash floods when it rains in the hills. Dry, hot and about 85 degrees today but you could see what would happen when it rained. This road is about 8 miles long and covers about every type of rock in Utah. Both of these drives/hikes are musts if you are anywhere nearby.
At Torrey, Route 12 heads south towards Dixie National Forest, Escalante National Monument and Bryce Canyon. Route 12 is among the best scenic byways we've been on. The road rises through five different life zones from high desert to coniferous forests at 7,800 feet. MANY 14% grades with jackknife turns keep you on your tow-haul
toes. I pity anyone with an RV without tow-haul and good brakes up on this road.
On the downside of Escalante is Boulder, UT, a small, very neat town with the We wandered the exhibits including the dig of an actual village. Didn't spend as much time as we wanted to because a huge bus full of screaming teenagers pulled in and overran the place. Onward!
Quite the drive through more of the Dixie National Forest to Cannonville. At one place the road had about 3 feet on each side until a sheer drop off into canyons on both sides. Would not be a fun winter road.
We chose to stop at a commercial campground tonight to do laundry, catch up on family emails and (of course!) RV.NET. Need to spend some time shaking out the dust and road debris and ready ourselves for Bryce, Zion and the north rim of the Grand Canyon. A couple we talked to today had major snow on the north rim just a few days ago. Thought the strong sewer smell was from our camper and that we had a leak
problem until we heard the horses neighing in the pasture next to us
It's 87 degrees, dry as a bone and we're going to take advantage of the 30 amp power and turn on the AC tonight to at least cool down the camper. Stiff breeze so it should cool off later. Bryce is supposed to be 100F tomorrow but Grand Canyon is supposed to be in the high 80s later this week. Keep thinking about our truck camper friend FlyFisher Dave and his trip to Alaska and wondering if he has his parka on yet.