Monday, June 9, 2014

Jun 9 – Valley of the Gods and Natural Bridges

We tried to do way too much today. All our destinations made a nice looping drive but with the length of time it takes us to explore something we went overtime.

I know it seems crazy but between us we took over 1000 pictures today. I immediately threw away about 500 as being redundant or just bad. Of the rest I “narrowed” it down to about 160 that were good enough to possibly go in the blog. It’s going to another long post.

First up was the Valley of the Gods. It is called the mini Monument Valley so we wanted to see it before we go to the real thing.

It is a 17 mile dirt road that winds its way next to a series of monoliths, spires and buttes. The road itself is in pretty good shape. There were a few rough spots but one of the 5 cars we met on it was a new Camaro so just about any car could do it.

We really enjoy this kind of scenery.

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Panorama 1, go right.

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We had a guide pamphlet that gave gave some of the landmarks ridiculous names that made no sense to us.  We just made up our ideas as to what things looked like.

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Jennie went with a curling stone.

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Off in the distance we could see some of Monument Valley.

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Panorama #2

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Panorama #3 (very lousy sky colour)

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Panorama #4. We thought the long wall looked like a cruise ship.

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A traffic jam.

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There were pullouts with great views everywhere. Since this is BLM land I think you can camp on it. We only saw one camper though.

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It took us about 1 1/2 hours to drive the 17 miles because of all the stops we made. I think we may have to come back and to it again in the reverse direction, maybe at sunset.

If you see that far off wall, just right of center, in the picture above, we are eventually going to climb it. The road up is called The Moki Dugway. It was originally built for large ore trucks to be able to get down from a mine up on the plateau.

You can’t see it from below at all.

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I think this is the approximate path that we took.

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Since it was for large trucks it is steep but nice and wide and in great shape. This was the easiest set of dirt switchbacks we have done so far.

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Our course we stopped at every pullout.

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Panorama 5, Back towards the Valley of the Gods.

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A panorama looking back down the Dugway.

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The man at the Bluff Visitor’s Center told us that there was a short trail at one of the corners that took you to a great lookout. We found the corner. It is not an obvious trail.

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But it sure made a great lunch spot. Notice Jennie tucked in the shadow at the right.

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A somewhat distorted panorama of the view.

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We told another couple about the spot. They came up for a look and we exchanged taking pictures.

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There was an interesting crack in one of the rocks.

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Farther up the road we could look back to the trail and our lunch spot.

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At one of the pullouts we talked to this guy with his 64 Tbird, who was driving back from a car show.

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Once we got to the top there is a road that runs out to Muley Point, which I think is just around the corner from the point in the picture above.

It is a 5 mile dirt road, which was also in very good shape. We only saw one other car out there and they left just as we got to the end.

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Here we could look down on the meandering of the San Juan River.

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I think that is the point we could see from the Dugway.

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There were lots of rocks to stand out on.

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That looks like an interesting road down there.

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Panorama of the west side of the point

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And another panorama of the east side.

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By now it was about 1:30 pm as we headed north for about 1/2 hour to get to Natural Bridge National Monument. It’s much greener up here.

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I had not heard much about this place other than looking at the brochure. There was a loop drive that takes you to viewpoints for three natural bridges.  There seemed to be short hikes down if you wanted.

I thought, “How long could this take. We should have plenty of time.” Mistake. We could have easily spent the entire day here.

The three bridges are HUGE. Easily dwarfing anything we have seen yet and the trails were very unusual.

The first one was called SIpapu Bridge. It is beside Jennie’s elbow.

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It didn’t look like much from up here. There was a short trail down to get underneath it. The trail was only 0.6 miles but it drops 500 feet and it turned out that most of the drop was in two very short, very steep sections.

You first down down some steep slickrock switchbacks that take you to this this set of stairs.

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Then you walk along a narrow ledge.

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Until you get to this.

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Down to a huge undercut.

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There was an unusual pile of rocks and a very weird hole in the wall.

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Then you get to a Y where you can continue along the ledge to a viewpoint or go down to the bridge. We went to the viewpoint first.

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The view back from the viewpoint. Look for the tiny people at the bottom left.

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Getting closer to the bridge but it so huge that is was hard to tell how close we were.

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This is the view around the corner from the viewpoint to the west as the canyon continues.

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You are not supposed to go around the corner because it gets very narrow but this woman knew better.

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From above, this is where I think we were.

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We went back to the Y and headed down.

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We got to a point where you had to climb down this ladder to continue. Jennie found some shade while I went on.

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Here is a view of the bridge from Jennie’s vantage. See the tiny people down at about 7 o’clock.

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Tiny me down there.

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The bridge was just to large to photograph from down there but it sure was impressive to look at.

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Heading back up.

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The next bridge is called Kachina.

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As much as we wanted to go down it just looked like too much work this late in the day.

More tiny people under a huge bridge. The same ones as were under the first bridge, actually.

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The view downstream from this bridge.

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The last bridge is called Owachomo. Again, not too impressive from the viewpoint.

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This trail was only 0.3 miles and 180 feet down so off we went.

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Much better.

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This one was really beautiful against the blue sky.

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By now it was 5 pm and we still had an hours drive back home.

We had dinner at the Twin Rocks cafe in Bluff.

Sorry for the length of this post but there was just so much to see.

A really great, long day.

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures - we LOVE long posts! More please!!!

    ReplyDelete