Monday, September 30, 2019

Fun Things to See Near Bluff Utah…


Our few days in Bluff Utah we took drives to see some sights as we are in Indian Territory and they frown upon hiking most anywhere. Nonetheless there are plenty of things to see in the area.


Our first stop was a short drive over to see Mexican Hat,an intriguing balancing rock resembling an upside down sombrero. This distinctive landmark is visible miles away and looks pretty much the same up close as it does far away. We walked around it a bit to snap some photos and then moved on.


Nearby was Goosenecks State Park so we pulled into it ($5/car entrance) and checked out the sights. Similar to what I have seen in photos of Horseshoe Bend (a sight we plan to see down the road) it is really pretty cool to look down to see where the river meanders and the erosion left behind.


Further down the road there were signs warning that anything over 10,000 lbs. should turn around as the road ahead was not suitable for such rigs. Another sign warned of steep grades and switchbacks. Next a sign indicated the pavement would end and become a dirt road. We had now entered the Moki Dugaway


It was constructed in 1958 by Texas mining company to transport uranium ore to the processing mill in Mexican Hat. This graded dirt road is carved into the face of the cliff on Cedar Mesa. It is 3 miles of steep, switch backed, 10% grade dirt road winding 1,200 feet from the valley floor to top of Cedar Mesa.


What a fun drive it was up to the top! Once at the top we were near the Muley Point overlook so we turned left at the top of Moki Dugaway and drove several miles down another dirt road that ended at Muley Point. It was similar to Gooseneck but not as stunning however we figured it was a great spot for a late lunch.

There was more on our list to see but we decided to drive back down Moki and return home for the day.

NOTE: We are now in Fredonia AZ for a week to rest after all that fast moving we were doing due to so many parks being full this time of year…

Friday, September 27, 2019

A Great Hike at Hovenweep National Monument…

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Oh man I almost forgot to blog about what we did the last day we stayed at Sleeping Ute Mountain Casino in Towaoc, Colorado. We originally planned to visit Hovenweep National Monument during our weeklong stay in Bluff Utah. However when double checking our reservation we realized they put us in a 30 foot site for the week (oops) so we had to shuffle our plans and will therefore only be in Bluff for two days.

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As a result we decided to take the drive over to check out Hovenweep National Monument and also the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. The visitor center for the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument is near Dolores Colorado. Entry is $3.00 per person but they do honor the National Parks passes so we used our Senior Lifetime Pass to visit for free.

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This is a small museum but loaded with exhibits and interesting historical pieces. There are also a lot of hands-on and interactive exhibits enriching the full experience visitors receive from visiting this museum. The native artifacts on display are amazing.

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Since time was not on our side we chose to simply drive through the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument and spend our time at Hovenweep. About an hour after we left the museum we pulled up to the visitor center expecting it to be empty. However, the parking lot was full and we had to park in one of the RV spaces so we pulled in at the front of it in case someone needed to park behind us.

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Hovenweep NM is out in the middle of nowhere so seeing it full helps explain why we are having so much difficulty finding places to stay in southern Utah and Northern AZ. Too many RV’ers are on the road!!!

Image may contain: sky, mountain, outdoor and natureThe hike around the rim of Hovenweep NM was only about 2.5 miles. It was mostly flat but involves crossing the canyon meaning there was some fairly steep downhill and uphill hiking for a short while. That is why after seeing the map, we went left on the loop trail so we could do the canyon first and hike the flats the rest of the time.

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There were a lot of really cool ruins here… We brought our lunch with us and enjoyed it while sitting on a ledge of the rimrock overlooking one of the ruins. We were really glad we chose to spend our time hiking this trail and enjoying the ruins at this national monument.

We headed back home but stopped in at the Wild Edge Brewing Collective. This is by far the best of the three breweries we visited in town. Also we should warn our fellow beer loving fans that the this town also had the WORST craft beer we have ever had in our lives! In our opinion, don’t visit J Fargo’s Microbrewery.…

NOTE: We are left Page AZ this morning and are now in Fredonia AZ for a week to rest after all that fast moving we were doing due to so many parks being full this time of year…

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Petroglyph Point Trail, Mesa Verde NP Colorado…

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I wanted to mention one more hike we did at Mesa Verde as it was our favorite one. The Petroglyph Point Trail is a moderate 2.4 mile loop trail complete with narrow passages, lots of stone steps, fabulous canyon views and even some rock petroglyphs.

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This was a really neat loop trail and began just beside the Chapin Museum near the Spruce Tree House. It begins at the trailhead for the Spruce Tree House but branches off a little way downhill. We would have loved to do the Spruce Tree House as well but it has been closed until next year due to safety issues.


Once we branched off on the Petroglyph Point Trail we continued on until the paved path turned into a dirt and rocky path. We continued going down into Spruce Canyon and once in the canyon we began to climb again. As we climbed we were walking along the face of the rimrock where the natives built most of their homes. This trail offered lots of great vistas and several good looks at the Spruce Tree House.

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There were some interesting (but not real difficult) challenges along this trail. The most interesting part of the trail was a narrow slot (tunnel?) through the rocks. Several rock steps on the trail made many of the climbs easier. As we were walking we always had our eyes on alert to see the petroglyphs.

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Once we were already on down the trail I suddenly realized I forgot to pinpoint exactly where the petroglyphs were but I remembered reading that they were quite obvious. Well I am here to say that they weren’t obvious to us as we apparently walked right past them and never saw them on the trail. Not a big worry as we have seen many petroglyphs but a bit of a disappointment anyway.

We did, however, spot a few ruins among the cliffs and also saw a sandstone wall that had grooves in it where apparently the natives sharpened their tools. Most likely spears and digging sticks were sharpened by scraping them against the rough sandstone.


When we started the trail we went to the right and near the end of the trail it became quite a scramble going back to the left up over the rim rock. Once atop the rimrock though the trail was mostly level all the way back to the trailhead. I was glad we took the trail the way we did because I would rather have scrambled up the last big climb than having to go straight down it.

Another great hike in the books…

NOTE: We are leaving Bluff Utah this morning and moving on to Monument Valley Utah for one night…

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Meeting Bloggers, a Scenic Drive and Hiking in Mesa Verde NP, CO…


We were back on the road again after leaving the Pagosa Springs area to head over to Mancos, Colorado for a few nights. Taking advantage of an RVillage discount of 33% we opted to stay three nights there. What a peaceful place to spend a few days as this park is relatively new. While there isn’t a lot of grass between sites yet, the owners seem to be trying to make this is a great spot and a very nice park!

One  thing we did while in Mancos was take a long loop drive up into the mountains. We drove up to Delores CO and then headed into the mountains on Colorado CR 38 just south of Stoner CO. Yes, Stoner… how appropriate for this state!

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The road was paved for a good ways and we passed a couple of nice (no hookup) forest service campgrounds along the way. The road eventually became a dirt road and although it was quite rough in places our low clearance four wheel drive Honda CRV had no trouble making it back to the pavement on highway 160.


The scenery was really spectacular with the golden yellows of the Aspens hinting at what a  display this road will offer in several weeks. Too bad we are early as I would love to do this drive again in full autumn color.


One unexpected and quite surprising encounter happened to us when we were visiting the brewery in Mancos, Colorado. Sharon and I were sitting at the bar when Sharon saw someone and said to me “Isn’t that Nikki?” I looked and wasn’t sure but then I said “It must be because that is Jason!” Who would have guessed we would meet bloggers Nikki and Jason of  Gone With the Wynns. They started out on the road about the same time we did but are now sailing the south pacific. Why were they in Mancos? Visiting family, what a small world…


We also took a day trip over to Mesa Verde National Park. It is only about 10 minutes to the entrance from Mancos but as those who have been here before know, it is still a 45 minute drive to any of the better sights in the park.


Mesa Verde National Park is a wonderful stop. The number of historic structures which can be seen is incredible. We have visited before but didn’t really have time to do any of the trails. This time around we made sure to so some of them.


One trail we did was the Soda Canyon Overlook Trail which is a 1.2 mile mostly flat out and back trail. It was not near as cool as the Petroglyph Point Trail but this one offered a few vistas into Soda Canyon and also great views of Balcony House on the other side of the canyon. There were some scopes set up at the overlooks where we could easily see the ladders used by the tours to get up into the ruins.

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Another trail we took was Step House Trail. This is just a short 0.8 mile loop trail but it allowed us the opportunity to walk amongst the Step House ruins. Sharon is a bit afraid of heights so this was the best option to get up close and personal to one of the ruins. There was a ranger down at the Step House to answer questions about the ruins. While there it rained a little and we could see why this site was chosen as the large overhang shielded us completely from the rain. 

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The first hike we did was the Petroglyph Point Trail but I will talk about it in the next blog… We had a great time hiking in Mesa Verde NP but it is now time to move on…

NOTE: We are leaving Towaoc CO in the morning and moving on to Bluff Utah for a few days of exploring…

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Hiking the Piedras River Trail in SW Colorado


While in Pagosa Springs, we took off early one day and decided to drive up to Wolf Creek Pass. We had not seen this pass in 40 years or more. As we were driving up we stopped off along the roadside and took the short hike up to the top of Treasure Falls. It was pretty dry this time of year but was still is impressive especially after taking the time to hike to the top of it.


After our hike, we continued our drive to the top of Wolf Creek Pass and I had planned to do another short hike near the top. However once we reached the pass we were disappointed in how many of Colorado's high altitude trees had died. One in 14 trees is dead in Colorado forests! Colorado’s mountain pine beetle and the spruce beetle have caused an increase of 30% in the number of dead trees only since 2010. It is really disheartening…


After the disappointment of Wolf Creek Pass on our last full day in Pagosa Springs we decided to find a good hike nearby (where it was green). After perusing the web I found the Piedras River Trail which was about a half an hour or so drive north of town.. The drive to the trailhead started out on paved road but turned to an easily drivable dirt road pretty quick and was enjoyable because of the scenery..

IMG_20190910_125407The trail basically began in a meadow on the river’s rim then slowly dropped down to the Piedras River. As we were walking through the meadow we passed some Aspen trees which were just beginning to turn their yellow fall color. Also, an oddly enough I found wild hops growing all along the trail!


As we left the meadow and began to drop down in elevation the trail became more rocky and shady. The trail was fairly easy although there were some more moderate rocky parts and a bit steep in a some places. The trail basically parallels the river offering some great views looking down into it. At times the trail meandered down by the river where we were able to feel the temperature of the water… Cold!


We continued on down the trail until we escaped the rocky canyon and found ourselves back in a meadow surrounded by pines, spruce and fir. We walked another 1/2 mile or so then returned back the way we came. The entire trail is 12 miles long and would have been great if we had someone to shuttle us back to our car.


We only went in about 1 3/4 miles in and back out with about a 700 ft. elevation change. This was a great little hike and best of all it was green…

We highly recommend this trail!

NOTE: We are currently in Cortez CO and then we will stay a few days south of Cortez before moving on into Utah where we will be at Bluff Utah for a week…