Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday, April, 30.

A very nice day, the morning was cool and clear and the day warmed up to the mid 70’s. The wind came up for a while around 2:00 and blew until around 6:00 but now it has calmed a little. There are some high thin clouds right now and the weather forecast is for deteriorating conditions with rain by Saturday. We’ll see.

When we were at the “Twin Rocks Café” I got to talking with the owner and he told me of some ruins that are not on the normal tourist agenda. He gave me directions and said that they were special and not too far from Blanding on Utah 95.
We decided that today we would check them out but we wanted to also take a ride into the Manti-La Sal National forest. After studying the map we found a set of roads that would likely allow us to do both. We stopped to ask for directions of a ranger at a state park on the northeast side of Blanding and she told us that some of the roads that we wanted to go on were closed in the mountains due to snow and showed us some alternatives. So armed with this information we headed out of town. We hadn’t gone more that a couple of miles when, coming around a turn in the road we got our first beautiful view.

All the rest of the day was just great.
After following this road for a while it came to a wide gravel “High Way”.
It wasn’t long before I was getting bored with this road and decided to check the Utah Atlas to see if there wasn’t some other roads that would go farther back into the mountains. After studying the map for a while we found what we were looking for.
Fortunately the roads in this area are all numbered and the numbers actually correspond with those on the map. We found the road we wanted and turned north into the mountains.
It was a beautiful ride.
I think I will just let the pictures speak for them selves with only an occasional comment from me.

In the higher elevations 7 to 8,000+ feet it felt and smelled like we were in the Sierras except that instead grey granite, glacier carved, round bottomed valleys we viewed red and yellow eroded sandstone cliffs.

The road must have been pretty sloppy during the thaw.

We saw several Elk crossing the road here but weren’t fast enough to get pictures.

There was still snow on the ground above 8,000 ft.

We had lunch at Duck Lake.

We stopped to check the map and I happened to look to the side and saw this deer sitting under a tree a few feet away. She seemed unconcerned and was still sitting there as we pulled away.

Here is another of Patty’s Lizard shots.

Eventually we got to highway 95 and found the ruins. They were at the head of a beautiful canyon near a spring.

The complex consisted of a couple of towers on the top of the cliffs, some dwellings on the cliff top and some more under the overhanging cliffs. Unfortunately once again, I was unable to walk enough to get into the valley but we got some pictures from the rim. You are probably sick of seeing pictures of ruins by now so here are just a couple.

If you are in this part of the country and want to check these ruins out for your self they are on the south side of Utah 95 between mile post 102 and 103 in Mule Canyon not far from the Mule Canyon Ruins that we saw yesterday and probably part of the same community. There is a driveway and a gate. The gate is unlocked. You will need high clearance and 4 wheel if you don’t want to walk very far. I drove the jeep to within 50 yards of the cliff but we had to do some slow rock crawling to get there. There is a trail into the canyon from the rim, so if you want to, you can get into the ruins. We were told by some guys that were walking out, that there are more ruins in the canyon than what you can see from the rim.
For you GPS people the Gate is at N37 39’ 05.0” W109 43’ 59.5”
Where I parked is at N37 31’ 34.7” W 109 43’ 57.7”
You can see some of the ruins from where I parked.

Tomorrow we are going to drive through “The Valley of The Gods” at the east end of “Monument Valley“.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wednesday, April, 29.

The morning was bright, clear and cool with just a slight breeze.

Around 9:00 we started on today’s trip to Natural Bridges National Monument and Hovenweep National Monument.
We headed south from Blanding on Utah 191 until we got to Hwy 95 where we turned West.
After the first couple of miles we started getting into some great scenery.

At one spot the road was cut right through the mountain leaving high cliffs rising on both sides.

When we came out of this cut in the mountain we came upon a beautiful vista.

About 10 miles down the road we came to a sign that read “Mule Canyon Ruins” so we turned in to investigate and found a very nicely preserved pueblo. The Kiva was interesting in that it had tunnels running from the Kiva structure to the housing block and the tower structure.

You can see the tunnel to the housing block at the left and in the lower photo you can see the tunnel to the tower which is behind me. This is a very uncommon setup for Kiva’s

Also in this picture you can see the air vent and baffle for the fire pit.
Below you can see the relationship between the Kiva and the housing block.

We traveled on and were treated to more beautiful scenery.

Eventually we came to Natural Bridges N.M.
This was our first view of the canyon that comprises the park.

This is Sipapu Bridge.

Patti got a nice picture of this Raven at the overlook.

Our next stop was the Horse Collar Ruins. We walked to the overlook and had to really zoom in to get the pictures.

The next stop was Kachina Bridge.

Then we went on to Owachomo bridge.

In order to get any real good pictures of the Bridges you have to be able to hike down into the canyons but since I can’t hike any more, I took a picture of the placard at the overlook.

We left Natural Bridges and headed for the town of Bluff about 5o miles away for lunch.
On the way we came to a spot where the road drops off the cliff in a series of switch backs just north of Mexican Hat, UT. The views were awesome!

And the road was fun.

We saw this one outcrop and called it the “Monkey Head”

The colors on some of the mountains are spectacular.

Eventually we got to Bluff and had lunch as the “Twin Rocks Café”
Here I have to make a correction on yesterdays description of the rock formation that I called “The Two Navajos” was totally wrong. I don’t know where I came up with that name but it is actually called (un imaginatively) “Twin Rocks”.
At the café which sits right below the rocks I had their “Navajo Burger”. It is a ½ lb. burger rapped in Indian Fry Bread. It was huge and delicious.

I had already eaten almost half of it before Patti took the picture. If we stop for lunch there again we have decided that we will order one “Navajo Burger” and split it.

From Bluff we drove about 38 miles to Hovenweep N.M. almost to the Colorado border.
The trail around the canyon that the Ruins are in is about 3 miles so needless to say we didn’t take the whole walk. We went about 300 yards to an overlook and got pictures of most of it from there.

The first one is Tower Point.

The next one is called the Twin Towers.

This one is Eroded Boulder House.

The Rim Rock House.

Stronghold House.

And lastly the Round Tower.

These are not all the structures in the area but they were all we could see from the view point and that was as far as I could walk. If you ever get to Hovenweep I suggest that you do the whole tour. That way you can get close to the buildings and see them all. They are very impressive.

All in all it was a wonderful day. We got home at 5:00 and still don’t have room for supper. :o)