Natural Bridges, Petroglyphs, & a Moki Dugway

Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
Trip End Jul 31, 2011

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Where I stayed
Sand Island BLM Camp

Flag of United States  , Utah
Monday, July 18, 2011

Since the internet was not working this morning and the fact there would be no internet tonight, I had to wake up early and head for the arches. The McDonalds was only a 5 min. walk away. I got my Egg McMuffin with coke this time instead of juice. Why not juice? It costs twice as much to drink a juice there as it does a coke or coffee. Healthy food should be getting the tax break and not the corn syrup that is bad for you. But what can I do. The internet worked very well and they can very comfy couches to sit on while I worked on the computer. The bad news was Faux News was on. Again, what can I do.

After a few hours it was time to get ready to head out of Moab after a week. Since we had been here so long it took a little longer to pack up. Around 10:30 we were heading south on the US 191 toward the town of Bluff which was just 100 miles away. It was a mostly easy drive with just a few ups and downs and twists and turns and little traffic. Went through the small towns of Monticello and Blanding before Bluff, which was very small. On a map it had several streets, but in real life, most of these city clocks were empty or filled with junk. This surprised me since it sat on the San Juan River and all this other outdoor activities. It did have more RV parks than motels and just a few places to eat.

We stayed just a few miles outside Bluff at this BLM camp called Sand Island which is right next to the San Juan River. This was both a campground and a river launch. BLM stands for Bureau of Land Management which is the low man on the totem pole for the Department of the Interior. On top of the pyramid is the National Park System which gets most of the funding and the glory. In the middle are the National Monuments. Then you have the BLM which takes care of land nobody really wants. However, this place was pretty cool. The campground was dry and had no dump station so you could not stay here too long. But this place was so nice – we backed into a site with plenty of trees to stay cool. And we had this 400 ft. high bluff with petroglyphs looking out our back window. Good place to chill. I cooked some quesadillas for lunch (my best ever – it is good to cook it with naan bread). Then we took a little loop drive around the area.

Our main stop was Natural Bridges National Monument. You take this 10 mile loop road to get a view of three Natural Bridges. Now yes, these things look like arches of which we saw a ton of them back in Moab. It's all in how they are formed. Natural Bridges are formed by a river or stream that cuts rock from two sides. Unless you want to hike into the canyon to take the 8 mile hike, which Pooh really wanted to do but of which we did not have time, you can easily do this place in one hour. The VC was a nice little place with a 15 min video to introduce you to the park. Teddy Roosevelt made it into a National Monument over 100 years ago. The three natural bridges are Sipapu, Katchina, and Owachomo. At most you have to walk a quarter a mile to get to the overlooks from your car. Being around 3 in the afternoon it was plenty hot so we did not stay at the overlooks for too long.

Back on the road we soon came to one of the most exciting and hardest roads of the trip, called the Moki Dugway. Pretty much this two lane highway ends at a cliff – a’la Dead Horse Point. But then, some crazy engineer decided to build a road that loses 1,500 feet in elevation in three miles on the side of a cliff. The road was truly dug out on the side of a cliff. The road turns to gravel except on the steep curves. Going down that steep they had to build a ton of switchbacks. No way I would take the RV down this road. Not being in the mood to test the limits of the truck, I went between 3rd and 4th gear and went very slowly. Most of the curves had railings but some of the straight a ways did not. Sometimes you think, what would happen if my tire blew – would I run off the cliff here? But then you just keep moving and hope your time is not up yet. Still a few more weeks of travel.

Since it was only three miles, the Moki Dugway was over before you knew it. Pooh was ready to go home, but I had another surprise for her. Seventeen miles of gravel road in an area called the Valley of the Gods. The gravel road was not too bad – I’ve been on much worse. Pretty much this was a great place for geologic eye candy – massive cliffs on one side and mesas dotting the flat landscape. You feel as if you should be in a stage coach out here or John Wayne will show up on a horse. Great little detour to add some spice to your drive.

From the end of this 17 mile fun drive it was a short distance back to Sand Island and the RV. I took Quique out on a walk around the campground and to the cliff side where some petroglyphs were suppose to be.   Turns out these were the best petroglyphs on the whole trip. Yes, there was a little graffiti, but for the most part they were great. The light of the day was fading so I could not see them at their best, but I could see good enough to enjoy them. Being BLM land you would think they were not well protected. But they had a fence around the cliff face so it would make it hard for any future idiot to deface these Native American artifacts. Quique had her fun crawling all over the rocks and chasing small rodents back into their burrows. When I came back and told Pooh, she had to go out too even though there was now even less light. Back in the RV we did a little cooking and went to sleep pretty early.
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