Southwest COLORADO AND Southeast UTAH TRIP – 2010

Rosemary Santana Cooney and Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.s


MONDAY, JUNE 14, 2010

Got to Denver from Newark, New Jersey and rented a Toyota Camry and started driving to Grand Junction, Colorado via US Route 70.

I had always thought that Denver was in the Rocky Mountains. After all, they do talk about Denver as the "mile high city". That is misleading to say the least. Approaching Denver the land is as flat as can be. We start to land and still no mountains. My wife tells me that Denver is not in the Rockies, but just outside of them, on the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains. You live, you learn.

It took us a half-hour via I-70 before we got through Denver and reached the mountains. I must say that the Rockies did not impress me that much because I thought they would be bigger and scarier with hair-pin turns and other dangerous curves. But the Rockies start at a mile high like Denver does, so, of course, they wouldn’t be as big as I thought they would be.

Don’t get me wrong. The mountains are beautiful. We really enjoyed the snow that was still on the top of the biggest mountains. That was cool. Another interesting thing was to see all the very tall evergreens marching up towards the tops of the mountains.

But who would have thought that they would get a big, modern interstate highway right through the Rockies (with the help of several tunnels, of course)? I-70 was a bit of a disappointment because I thought it was going to be a smaller highway. I-70 is also very, very busy with cars, pick-up trucks and huge hauling trucks all over the place. And they go fast. Sometimes the speed limit is 75 miles per hour, which permits one legally to go 80 miles per hour with the five-mile over the speed limit gift. That’s fast. It was a bit too fast at times for two sight-seers.

We did pull-over a lot to take photos. Sometimes the highway shoulders were non-existent or too small to pull over and stop safely. But there are places where one can pull-over relatively safely and we used these a great deal.

We started with 11,354 miles on the odometer of the Toyota Camry. We used the odometer settings to see how far we went, as well as the green mileage markers on the highways.

One upsetting thing was that it was raining on and off on this Monday morning.

267-269 (mileage marker) – see the Rocky Mountains in the distance.

262 (mileage marker) – saw a Barnes and Noble store and thought we might stop on our return to Denver.

257 (mileage marker) – terraced rocks. Very green-looking mountain ahead.

256 (mileage marker) – Lookout Mountain (home to the grave and museum of Buffalo Bill Cody). We stopped here on our way back on Sunday.

255 (mileage marker) – see Swiss chalet architecture. This goes on for many, many miles. Why not have some interesting and different architecture to accent a regional area? It’s a good thing.

254 (mileage marker) – Buffalo Herd Overlook. (We did stopped here on Sunday also.)

252-251 (mileage markers) – we descend quite a bit.

249 (mileage marker) – still descending.

248 (mileage marker) – stopped for a photo.

245-244 (mileage marker) – really descending now.

Before reaching 242 – we go through one of the tunnels of twin tunnels.

239 (mileage marker) – town of Idaho Springs.

236 (mileage marker) – see first snow on the mountains.

232 (mileage marker) – passing a snow-covered mountain.

Just before 229 mileage marker, Exit 228, there’s a lake.

Just before Silver Plume, exit 226 – took photo of a mountain top with snow on it.

Just before 224 – another snowy mountain.

Just before 223 (mileage marker) – stop at a chain station (where drivers can put chains on their vehicles’ tires).

Before 220 – another snow-covered mountain.

Go through the Eisenhower - Edwin C. Johnson Memorial Tunnel.

Just before 213 – we emerge from the tunnel. More snow-covered mountains.

208 – town in the distance.

Before 205 – town of Silverthorne.

202 – Scenic pull-off area coming up. Dillon Reservoir/Dillon Lake. Beautiful body of water. It would be nice if we had a panorama camera with us.

196 – took photo of 10 Mile Creek and a sign for the Gore Range National Forest trailhead.

192 – first red rocks we see – this is an indication that we are getting closer to Red Rock Country, namely the Colorado Plateau that covers a lot of land nearly centered at the Four Corners where the boundaries of four states meet: Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.

See a sign – Gerald R. Ford Memorial Highway.

Pass Vail Pass summit (odometer 11,662).

182 mileage marker – Vail, Colorado and more Swiss chalets. You can see lots of ski trails on the mountains.

Near 160 – scenic view by a pond.

Before 158 – pass over Eagle River. The landscape looks now more desert-like. Pass lots of ranches with sheep and horses.

Before 154 – cross over Eagle River again.

Before 153 – see more red rocks.

Past 144 – Town of Eagle.

Past 143 – white and yellow sandstone mountains nearby.

140 – town of Gypsum.

139 – missed taking photos of the white and yellow sandstone mountains (but did get one on our way back to Grand Junction, Colorado from Utah).

The interstate now passes through wide valleys.

Exit 133 – Dotsero exit where the Colorado River comes in from the north.

134 (mileage marker) – pass over the Colorado River.

130 – cross into Garfield County. The Colorado River is close-by to I-70. We wonder about what a good flood would do to I-70.

127 – a tunnel. Railroad tracks are nearby.

124 – canyon very narrow and I-70 is without shoulders, so we can’t stop.

123 – white water on the Colorado River.

Before 120 – rest area at Glenwood Canyon (No-name rest area is west of us). We stop so we can get close to the Colorado River.

Beginning in 1887 the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad ran through Glenwood Canyon. Later a wagon road known as Taylor State Road (for Colorado state senator Edward T. Taylor) ran through the Canyon. In 1902 automobiles started using the road. In 1975 the Canyon road became a part of the I-70 highway. (The Glenwood Canyon section is 12.5 miles long.)

118 – another tunnel.

See beautiful red rock before West Glenwood Springs.

113 – lots of red rocks now.

102 – the valley is really wide here.

083 – unusual green and white stripped mountains.

054 – the valley got narrow again. The Colorado River is really close to the highway on the north side.

Before 50 mm — tunnels.

Exit 42 – no mountains to the south of us, as if the mountain chain just disappeared. The plateau on the right with yellow and white sandstone is very close.

Exit 31 – stopped at Best Western. Ate at Denny’s.

The odometer says 11,622

- 11,354 milage from the start

268 miles traveled on Monday (Denver to Grand Junction)

Note: Best viewed in dim lighting as the bright light tends to distort the colors.

Interstate 70 From Denver to Exit 216

Interstate 70 From Eisenhower Tunnel to Ten Mile Creek

Interstate 70 From Exit 160 to Glenwood Canyon


TUESDAY, JUNE 15, 2010.

11,622 on the odometer.

We stop along Rt 50/141 in Grand Junction by Carol Ct. There are a lot of flat mesas here and part of the mountains to the south of Grand Junction. Took photos.

Before mile 39 marker – pretty, open views. Few trees.

Around 39 mile marker – make a left turn for 50/141 and stop for more scenic, wide-open landscapes

After 39 (mileage marker) – turn right onto Rt. 141. There is a sign that warns: "No gas for 44 miles." You have to go the 44 miles to reach the little town of Gateway (which has a rather big resort next to it.) At the intersection, we see the all too familiar Canada geese around some big pond-like areas.

Rt. 141 is part of the Unaweep/Tabeguache Scenic Byway.

Highway 141 is so quiet compared to what we went through on I-70. Now we feel that we can relax and take more photographs without all the hustle and bustle of a major highway. Odometer reads 11,631, before hitting the 153 mileage marker.

This is the 44-mile long, 2,500 feet deep Unaweep Canyon where the Gunnison River once flowed. (Unaweep is a Ute Indian name meaning "canyon with two mouths".) This canyon is the only canyon in the world that has a watershed divide in the middle of the canyon. The ecosystem and dry and semi-dry desert.

152 (mileage marker) – a sign says entering East Creek Day Use Area There are some pretty rocks in this rather dry valley. East Creek is on our right.

Just below 151 (mileage marker) – Wide open area. Lots of Cottonwood trees along the East Creek.

See a sign: "Leaving East Creek Day Use Area".

Before 150 – at another stop we see red claret cactus flowers in bloom.

Below 148 (mileage marker) – take a photo looking back toward the area we just traveled through.

Odometer says 11,637. We pass through open range for the next three miles. We are surprised to see that there are quite a few houses located in this valley.

Below 144 (mileage marker) – a section with deep red rocks. (Odometer 11,641.)

Below 142 (mileage marker) – a mesa is ahead of us. (Odometer is 11,643).

Below 140 – a mountain with forested top on the left and with naked rocks on the right.

135 (mileage marker) – can go 65 mph.

Just below 133 – very pretty, wide valley here. Take photos of a pond ahead surrounded by a grassy area. Three knobbed mountains ahead. (11,651 on the odometer.)

Just below 132 – Fall Creek Ranch. Another pond and a beautiful valley.

Below 129 (mileage marker) – took photos of Thimble Rock and the ruins of Driggs Mansion. Lawrence La Tourette Driggs was a wealthy New York lawyer who acquired the 320-acre property in 1877. The mansion took four years to build, 1914-1918. The Driggs family only lived in the six-room mansion for a few weeks. The most distinctive feature of the mansion was the archway over the front door. In the 1950s many of the stones were taken for use elsewhere. Driggs Mansion is at the base of the Biotite-Muscovite Granite Thimble Rock. The rocks are about 2 billion years old.

Below 128 – Go through a cut-out with rocks on either side of us.

Below 127 – an across the valley shot. There is a rock with a small, green triangle . It looks like the mountain in the middle got a bad haircut. Rosemary wonders if her photo of Thimble Rock was taken from the water side. The one she took was in the shade.

Below 120 (mileage marker) – Unaweep Seep Viewing Platform. West Creek is here. In July, the Colorado state butterfly, the iridescent blue and black Colorado Hairstreak, is common here.

118 – the valley narrows.

Below 117 – West Creek Picnic Area.

Below 116 – big, open views: red rocks and behind them snow-covered mountain tops of the Rockies. The odometer reading is 11,669. Red claret cactus flowers and lots of orange flowers.

Below 114 – a mule deer slowly goes across the highway.

Below 113 – stopped for red mountain photos. (Odometer is 11,671.)

Below 112 – the town of Gateway. It’s a very tiny town. There’s one Mobil gas station and RV park with Motel and there is an eating place, Rt. 141 Diner. (Odometer 11,673.)

Took photos of the large Gateway Canyons complex nearby Gateway. They have adobe buildings. Also took a photo of the nearby Dolores River.

110 – look back photo shoot. Big, open, red canyon valley with the Dolores River in it. (Odometer 11,674.)

Below 107. Chocolate brown mesa.

105 (mileage marker). Dolores River in red rock mesa canyon or valley.

Below 96. Entering Montrose County.

092 – very narrow canyon here.

Below 089 – cross the Dolores River.

Below 086 – cross Mesa Creek.

Now the river is way below us in a mini-Grand Canyon.

Below 082 – the road takes a sharp bend.

80-79 – "Point of Interest" area. Hanging flume. Lots of what we called white, big lips along the mountain sides. To bring San Juan River water to the Dolores River area, the Montrose Placer Mining Company built a 13-mile long canal and flume. In the last five miles of the system, the hanging flume actually clung to the wall of the canyon. The water it brought was used as hydraulic pressure to separate the flake and flour gold from the dirt and gravel. The venture did not prove profitable and was abandoned after three years. The flume is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Below 79 – big, open area in the valley with the river.

We see a cute painting of a donkey on a mountain wall near the road.

Cross over Atkinson Creek.

Just before 76 (mileage marker). Here is information about mining at the now gone town of Uravan (a combination of the words uranium and vanadium, both which were mined for here). The town was established in 1936. At one point over 800 people lived here. The plant closed in 1984 after the fall of the prices for uranium. A project is cleaning up the place so the valley here will look much as it did before milling operations began. (A few miles from this place, both the 1765 Juan Marie Antonio de Rivera expedition and the 1776 expedition of the Spanish missionaries Francisco Atanasia Dominguez and Silvestre Valez de Escalante, looking for a route from Santa Fe to California, went past the area.)

Before 74 (mileage marker) – San Miguel River crossing.

71 mileage marker – now the red mountains are not so red. And the valley really opens up.

Below 65 – Nucla loop.

Below 63 – junction with Rt. 90.

Below 61 – Naturita welcome sign. A protest sign says to stop the development of the area. Here in town is the Ray Motel.

Below 59 – Naturita Creek.

Seen in the distance from Rt . 141 we see snow capped mountains in the distance. This is not far out of Naturita.

Junction with Rt. 145. We switch from Rt. 141 to Rt. 145. (Odometer 11,727.)

Clear views of snow-covered Rockies that go from left to right across our viewing range.

111 – reach Redvale.

Go through a wide open, flat road with houses along its length.

105 – farm ranch land.

Below 104 – San Miguel County.

Below 102. We reach the town of Norwood. We bear left. This is a larger town than most around here. There are a few motels.

Below 100. Miramont Lake.

098 – steep grade going down. Snaky road. The mountain is on the left and the cliff is on the right.

Below 95 – Unaweep/Tabeguache Scenic Byway plaque. We cross over the San Miguel River. There is a picnic area by the San Miguel River.

Below 92 – Lots of evergreen trees. This is Rocky mountain country but there are still a lot of red rocks here. Maybe it’s a transition area.

Below 90 – San Miguel Canyon Preserve.

Below 89 – stop to take a photo of the river.

Below 84 – right turn in order to stay on Rt 145 (at junction with Rt 62) heading south.

Soon find Placerville, a small town. Here they have stores like the M&M Mercantile General Store and Leopard Liquors on Front Street. There is a bridge over the San Miguel at Geyser Street.

Below 81. Town of Sawpit.

Near 72 (mileage marker) San Juan Skyway and Keystone Hill Overlook. Here is also the Uncompahgre National Forest. There are a number of historical signs. Not far away, Route 145 turns right.

Mile marker 71. Ascending. You can see the Rockies and red rocks next to each other.

Pass 68 (mile marker). Stop for snow-capped mountain photos. This is near Bright Star Road (private). Nearby are Sunshine Mountain and Wilson Peak.

Below 64 (mileage marker) got off the road at a pull-off. There is an overview of the valley below.

Below 63. Matterhorn Campground.

Below 62. Trout Lake. Rosemary takes pictures from lake level and then from Route 145 which overlooks Trout Lake. Above Trout Lake the elevation is 10,000 feet.

Below 60. Lizards Head Pass. Dolores County is just after the pass.

Below 59. Stop for a look-back photo.

Below 58. Lizard Head Peak. The elevation is 13, 112 feet.

57-56 miles. On the right hand side of the road there is a steep decline.

Below 54. Cayton Campground. The road levels out.

47-48 miles. We cross the Dolores River just before reaching the town of Rico. Here is a cable mine rig used in mining in the area. There are several historical markers. Parts of the town almost look like a ghost town.

In 1833 trappers reported that there were remains of Spanish smelters in the area. About 1860 mining began in the area. In 1879 rich deposits of silver ore were discovered in Rico. In the same year the town of Rico was founded. In 1892 Rico had 5,000 residents, 23 saloons, 2 churches and 88 active mines. Then the silver crash of 1893 ended Rico’s first boom period.

Below 45 (mileage marker). Scotch Creek.

43 miles. Montezuma County.

Below 42 we cross the Dolores River.

Below 36 (mileage marker). Priest Gulch Campground.

Below 12 is the town of Dolores. We took some pictures: the post office, Dolores Town Hall, a Railroad Museum and a place called the Depot, which sells burgers and fries.

In Dolores they have a monument to the Dominguez-Escalante expedition. Outside the railway museum is one of the Galloping Gooses. In 1931 it was announced that motor buses would operate on the Rio Grande Southern railway from Ridgway to Dolores. These motor buses were light-weight, gasoline-powered rail buses that transported light freight. For twenty years, seven Galloping Gooses ran the route. The railway was abandoned in 1951.

Cross over the Dolores River again.

After mile marker 02 we reach the city limits of Cortez. We finally reach our destination. Rosemary is exhausted and I’m tired. We stay at the Best Western, Turquoise Inn and Suites. We ate at Tequila’s Family Mexican Restaurant. The waiter Beto was very good.

The odometer reads 11,847 mileage at the end of the day.

- 11,622 mileage from the start.

225 miles on Tuesday. 

Route 141 Before and At Intersection with 50

Route 141 East Creek Section of Scenic Byway

Route 141 West Creek Section to Begin Gateway

Route 141 Gateway Resort and Beyond

Route 145 Placerville to Sunshine Mountain & Wilson's Peak

Route 145 Trout Lake to Lizard Head's Peak

Route 145 Rico

Route 145 Dolores



The odometer reads 11,847.

At 11, 848 we stop by the Mancos Valley Bank for photos of the mountains.

Mile 42 (odometer 11,849).

At mileage marker 48 (odometer at 11,856) is the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park. It is 15 miles up to the Visitor’s Center. Took photos of the mountains northwest, north and northeast.

We drive the Wetherill Mesa road. From many lookout points in the mountains of Mesa Verde, one can see the city of Cortez. We see the Totten Reservoir on the east side of Cortez. From there we work our way over where we can see the central part and west side of Cortez.

On a clear day, one can also see in the distance far away, from left to right, the following areas: Yucca House National Monument, McElmo Canyon, Hovenweep National Mounument, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Cortez, the Abajo Mountains in Utah, Lowry Pubelo and Yellow Jacket Pueblo. These are only dimly visible through the haze.

At the end of the road are a number of trails to the cliff dwellings of the ancient peoples. We walked over to take a look at the nearby canyon. We were surprised to see a big opening in the canyon wall and a small cliff-dwelling inside the opening. This is called the Step House. The view was very impressive. Talk about being well-hidden! The early Spanish explorers did not discover the cliff dwellings and now we know why. They were very well-hidden on the sides of canyon walls on top of a high mesa.

You can walk down to the cliff-dwellings, but we are more interested in the geology and the mountains and canyons rather than native Americans. But if we had more time, we would have enjoyed learning more about the ancient peoples.

After seeing Mesa Verde, we drove to the Four Corners. We took Routes 160/491 south

At 36 mileage marker we cross McElmo Creek.

At odometer reading 11,932 we enter Ute Lands. There is a big Indian Casino here.

Before 26 (mileage marker) we pass the road heading to the town of Towaco, a Ute settlement.

When Routes 160 and 491 part company, at the Tribal Park Visitor Center and Permits, we stay on Route 160 by making a left turn away from Route 491 which continues south.

Mile 24. We see the isolate Shiprock on the left.

Mile 17. We cross Navajo Springs, but there is no water there. In the area we see a lot of small yellow-brown mesas, accompanied by many gullies.

We cross Aztec Creek, also with no water.

The land here looks very empty.

We cross the San Juan River and reach the road to the Four Corners monument. Unfortunately, the monument was closed "due to construction". There were many cars outside the gate with disappointed would-be visitors. But all was not lost. We met a Navajo code-talker named Kee Etsicitty and his son Curtis. Kee told us about his experiences at Guadalcanal. He worked at headquarters and moved from island to island as headquarters moved. Curtis told us that the Navajo language is so hard to learn for a non-Navajo speaker because they don’t use words per se, but rather descriptive phrases to serve as words in other languages. Rosemary thanked Kee for his service to the country in World War II and gave him a kiss. Curtis was a very good calf-roper on the rodeo circuit and traveled to many different places with the rodeo.

We start heading back to Cortez.

At mile 1 Rosemary takes photos of the San Juan River and a little farther along the road takes photos of isolate Chimney Rock.

Near mile 6, I make the observation that the landscape here is rather ugly and barren.

Back at the junction of Routes 160 and 491, Rosemary takes more photos of isolate Shiprock.

We get back to Cortez and take photos of some of the buildings on the main street. Among the buildings were the Fiesta Twin Cinema; the Pepperhead Restaurant: Chile on My Mind!; an 1889 building (which contains among other stores the Picaya Furnishings and Gifts store); the Basin Industrial Bank building; Main Street Restaurant and Brewery; the Colorado Welcome Center; and the Cortez Cultural Center.

The Cortez Cultural Center is located in the 1909 E.R. Lamb family business, E. R. Lamb Mercantile. The building has a 19th century pressed metal front facade shipped from St. Louis, Missouri.

We eat at Arby’s. Then we return to our Best Western Motel room to prepare for the trip for the next day.

The odometer reads 12,004 milage at the end of the day.

- 11,847 milage from the start.

157 miles on Wednesday.

Mesa Verde & Wetherill Mesa Road

Mesa Verde & Wetherill Mesa Road Continued

Four Corners & Route 160

Cortez - Route 160


THURSDAY, JUNE 17, 2010.

The odometer reads 12,004.

Originally, we were going to go from Cortez to Durango and then to Silverton, but we needed to shorten the trip, so we abandoned the project.

So we decide to take Rt. 491 northwest to Monticello, Utah.

Mile 29. The odometer reading is 12,007. The land is flat with ranches and farms.

Hovenweep National Monument. (Odometer reads 12,023.) We don’t have the time nor the desire to visit at this time.

The town of Dove Creek is at odometer reading 12,038.

Welcome to Utah (odometer reading 12,047), about 34 miles from the western edge of Monticello.

Before 4 mileage marker. On the outskirts of Monticello, Rosemary takes photos of the city. The city is at the base of the Abajo Mountains and the Manti La-Sal National Forest.

Make another stop at odometer reading 12,061.

At 12,064 on the odometer on Route 191 heading north.

At mileage marker 74, the odometer reads 12,066. We are 19 miles from the Utah border behind us.

Rosemary notices that lots of people have both lamas and sheep.

Before 80 (mileage marker) (odometer 12,071), take photos of Church Rock on the right of the road.

Beyond mile marker 84 (odometer 12,076) Rosemary takes more photos of Church Rock from a small pull-off area.

At 85 (mileage marker), we are next to Church Rock and take some photos. We turn left onto Route 211 to get to the Needles section of Canyonlands National Park. The starting mileage marker here is 19. The total journey to the Visitor Center will be 34 miles. (The odometer reads 12,078). Route 211 is called the Indian Creek Scenic Byway.

Past mile marker 15, we see mountains from left to right across our car windshield .

Below mileage marker 10, we come to the Indian Creek Recreation Area.

We see a lot of tamarisk near the water, so typical of many of the waterways of the Southwest.

Below milage marker 6, we reach Newspaper Rock Recreation Area. (Odometer reads 12,090.) Here is Entrada sandstone that has weathered black. The ancient peoples drew pictures by scraping off the black covering revealed the orange rock surface below. The lower third of the huge area is covered with all kinds of drawings.

The petroglyph panel cover some 2,000 years of early man’s activities. The rock is registered on the Register of National Historic Places.

At odometer 12,093 we stop to take photos of the valley.

Just before mileage marker 3, there is a broad, open field with a fence.

Just above 2 (mileage marker) we are really hemmed in with rocks on both sides of us as far as we can see. Another stop is made below the 2 mileage marker.

We now come to an area with six mesas in a row on the right side of the road.

We stop at odometer reading 12,096. This is a very wide, open area, with a broad opening beyond the six mesas.

Where there should be a 0 mile marker, Route 211 ends. Take photos of Indian Creek here (odometer 12,097).

At odometer reading 12,101, Rosemary takes photos of two different isolates on top of a ridge. One of them is known as north Six shooter.

At 12,109, we see a big open area ahead of us. The park boundary is here also.

At 12,110 we reach the park sign and take photos.

At 12,111 we pay the park fee.

At 12,112 we stop at the Visitor Center. After that the first photos Rosemary takes photos of Wooden Shoe Arch which does look like a wooden shoe on top of a big pedestal.

At 12,118 we reach Pothole Point. Here we walk around a rather small collection of sandstone rocks. On the ground the sandstone surface has many small, shallow holes. After a rain the holes become ephemeral pools giving invertebrate eggs a chance to come to active life in the pool.

At Big Spring Canyon Overlook there are two deep, round canyons on either side of a big rock.

We return the way we came. And now we head to Squaw Flats Campground to get photos of some of the needles. The red part of the needles here are protected from erosion by their harder sandstone caps.

We leave the Canyonlands. On the way back we stop to take some more photos of the small lake.

Just before returning to the main highway, after the 15 mile marker, we see Maria’s Place, which was the center of a religious cult in the 1930's.

At odometer reading 12,160 we are back on Route 191.

At mileage marker 93 on Route 191, we turn left (odometer reading 12,167) to head to an overlook of the surrounding area. It is some 22 miles to the Needles Overlook and a sign says the whole way is under construction. We have to follow a pilot pick-up truck that at first goes about 20 miles per hour. We were thinking: Great, this will only take us an hour to get out there and then an hour back. Fortunately for us, only two smaller sections were under immediate construction. Past the two construction sections, we could proceed very fast.

At odometer reading 12,188 we reach the parking area for the Needles Overlook above the canyonlands basin. The view is of a completely empty, huge area. The Colorado River makes little Grand Canyons through the area. The area is vast, but not clear. The area is hazy and you can’t really see that far. There are three viewing points: of the Colorado River, of the Six Shooter Buttes (North and South) and of Indian Creek.

At 12,210 on the odometer we get back to Route 191. Along the road we miss the Lopez Arch, but do find and take photos of the Wilson Arch (past mileage marker 100 and at an odometer reading of 12,217). This Entrada Sandstone Arch is named for Joe Wilson, owner of a cabin in dry valley.

At 108 (mileage marker) we find ourselves really close to red rocks.

Just before mileage marker 111 at odometer reading 11,227, we stop at a group of stores known as the Hole in the Rock. A fellow built a home right into a huge section of rock at this location. You can take a tour of the home for a fee. We did not take the tour.

On the outside rock there is a sculpture of U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was created and sculptured by Albert L Christensen. There are three main shops here: the Trading Post, General Store and Souvenir Shop. We bought some souvenirs.

Before mileage marker 120, there is a sign for Grand County.

At 12,242 on the odometer we arrive at our Best Western motel in Moab. It turns out that there are two Best Western motels here very close to each other. We stopped at the wrong one and were redirected to the right Best Western. We went north one more block on Main Street.

We are right downtown, so a lot of shops and restaurants are within walking distance. We walked down to the Pizza Hut and had a vegetarian pizza and Miller beer. After dinner, we buy some souvenirs at the Trading Post.

The odometer reads 12,243 milage at the end of the day.

- 12,004 milage from the start.

239 miles on Thursday

Monticello & Church Rock

Route 211 to Canyonlands NP

Canyonlands NP - Needles Section

Needles Overlook & Route 133

Wilson Arch & Hole in the Rock


FRIDAY, JUNE 18, 2010.

The odometer reads 12,243 at the start of the day.

At 12,245 we stop to takes photos as we leave Moab. Mountains are ahead of us and on both sides. We cross over the Colorado River.

Mileage marker 129 is at odometer reading of 12,246.

Just past 130 mileage marker, we reach the Arches National Park. We takes photos of the sign for the place at odometer reading 12,247.

At 12,249 we take a picture of the Three Penguins rock formation ?

We also take photos at the Visitor Center.

Leaving the Visitor Center we ascend into the mountains. We stop to take photos of the Visitor Center and the entrance station, as well as photos of the entire area below.

Our first stop is at 250 Park Avenue.

Princess Plume is in flower with its yellow blooms. Before we knew what the plant was called we just called it Indian Rocket because of the form of the inflorescence.

12,251. Took the view just past La Sal Mountains view.

Took a picture of the Three Gossips rock formation and a formation crowned with a shape that looked like a sheep.

12,254. Come to the Petrified Dunes Viewpoint.

12,256. See North and South Windows from a distance. The arches at this distance look like a black mask with the arches forming two openings simulating the eye holes of a mask. Also here are more petrified dunes of now hard, whitish Navajo sandstone mounds.

We pass by the Balanced Rock. A red rock pedestal looks something like an arm holding up a huge, fat football. The park staff will let the football drop eventually, but no one can say when this will happen.

12,259. Took more photos of the Balanced Rock from the side road.

We come to the Windows Section and take more photos of the North and South Windows. In the same area are the Double Arches, one behind the other (which blocks the view unless you walk up close to the arches). On the way out, Rosemary took photos of the Double Arches from behind. She also took photos of a swirling, whitish rock formation that looks to me like petrified cow paddies.

From Panorama Point we have another view of the La Sal Mountains, some of which still have some snow on their tops. We also have a view of a grassy open area known as Salt Valley. In one section the grass is a very pretty light green color.

At Cache Valley Overlook Rosemary takes photos of what she says looks to her like brownish-green, velvety hills.

At the Entrada sandstone Delicate Arch Lower Overlook, Rosemary did her best to get good photos of the arch, but the view from here were just not that great. Some have referred to Delicate Arch as "cowboy chaps".

On the way back we stopped at the Wolfe Ranch. John Wesley Wolfe and his son Fred from Ohio had a ranch here from the late 1800s. In 1906 his daughter Flora Stanley and her family came out to live with them. The old cabin was so terrible, that Flora convinced the two males to build her another cabin. In 1910 the whole family returned to Ohio. The cabin still stands close to the parking area.

Photos were also taken from Salt Valley Overlook and Fiery Furnace Viewpoint. We are harassed by the nasty gnats which are very aggressive and love to bite humans. The gnats are seasonal, but still a big bother when they are out and about. The Fiery Furnace is a maze of cool, shady canyons.

Took photos of Sand Dune Arch, an isolated arch in the area.

We go to the end of the paved park road. Here is the Devil’s Garden. There are cars all over the place. It’s the busiest place in the park. Apparently, a lot of people go for the hike to see the arches in the area.

We leave the Arches National Park at odometer reading 12, 295. We find mile marker 131 while heading northwest on Route 191. At mileage marker 133 the cliffs are really dark red.

Odometer reading 12,301. We turn left onto Route 313 to go to the most popular section of the Canyonlands National Park  Island in the Sky. It receives 68% percent of the park visitors.

Mileage Marker 21 corresponds to our odometer reading of 12,303.

At mileage marker 18 we stop to take photos of two isolated buttes, known as the Monitor and the Merrimack, the two Civil War ironclad ships. The two Entrada sandstone land forms are 600 feet above their Navajo sandstone base.

Odometer 12,320. We take a photo of the Canyonlands National Park sign.

At 12,322 we find the Visitor Center. We crossed the park road to take photos of the Visitor Center.

This mesa we are on is a bit different than the others. There are large sections that are more grasslands than desert.

At odometer 12,328 (mileage marker 13) we stop for a panoramic view of the countryside. In the area is a big white mesa called Aztec Butte and a chocolate-colored canyon.

At 12,330 we stop at the Green River Overlook at elevation 6,000 feet. The view is another one of those of huge open spaces where there are virtually no visual landmarks. Except in a few small sections, we can’t really see the Green River because it is at the bottom of the deep canyons that the river has cut through the area. And again, the far away views are marred by the haze from which we can’t seem to escape. We could barely make out the Navajo sandstone Cleopatra’s Chair on the ridge in the distance.

At 12,334 we stopped at the Holeman Spring Canyon Overlook.

At odometer 12,335 we stopped at the Whale Rock and the Whale Rock Trailhead. This big piece of sandstone is so long that we can’t get the whole thing into the view of the camera. It had to be photographed in sections. Some of the hikers were on top of the whale’s back.

The biological community here is called Pinyon Pine-Utah Juniper community.

Odometer reading 12,343. Took photos of several isolates at Buck Canyon Overlook.

Odometer reading 12,346. Grand View Point Overlook. Still another view of a huge landscape. The land in the area is really cut up by erosion.

We leave the Canyonlands for Dead Horse Point State Park.

Odometer 12,364. We make a right turn off Route 313 headed for the state park in the area.

Odometer 12,368. We reach Dead Horse State Park.

Odometer reading 12,372. The great feature of the park is the vast view of the Colorado River making a horse shoe bend (called a gooseneck) around an eroded mesa of sandstone. Also here one can see the brilliant blue hues of the pools created in the process of mining potash from the area. According to Wikipedia, Potash is the common name for potassium carbonate and various mined salts that contain the element potassium in water-soluble form. The mining company adds blue tints to help in the evaporation process of the water in the potash pools. Again we are bothered by the gnats.

Odometer 12,373, we are back at the Visitor Center.

The odometer reads 12,407 milage at the end of the day.

- 12,243 milage from the start.

164 miles driven on Friday

Arches National Park I

Arches National Park II

Canyonlands NP - Island in the Sky Section

Dead Horse Point State Park & Overlook


SATURDAY, JUNE 19, 2010.

The odometer reads 12,407 at the beginning of the day. We have spent two days in Moab, Utah and now we are leaving, headed for Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

At 12,409 we make a right turn to pick up the Route 128 Scenic Byway. The road will eventually take us to I-70. A sign at the start of the Scenic Byway says: Colorado River Recreation Area.

At 12,412 we stop for river photos above mileage marker 2.

At 12,413 we stop at Negro Bill Canyon and Trailhead. Negro Bill was a local rancher who would let his cattle room in the canyon. The beginning presents a narrow canyon. There is a plaque memorializing the two bikers (Mark Irvin and Chris Holt) who got lost biking Porcupine Rim and were found dead above Negro Bill Canyon in August, 1995.

Nearby, just around the corner from Negro Bill Canyon we see the first of many places where people camp right next to the Colorado River. This one is Granstaff Campground.

At 12,415 we stop just below mileage marker 6 for photographs.

At 12,416 we stop just before a bend in the river. The Colorado River is flowing southwest here. There are lots of campers around.

At 12,419, just past mileage marker 9, we are in a narrow canyon. The mountains on the right are really close to the road. We get back in the car and stop a couple of blocks farther northeast near mileage marker 10 (odometer 12,420). The campground here is called Take Out Beach. Another stop is just above the mileage marker 10.

My wife says: "At least the gnats are not out." The road is very winding as it keeps in touch with the Colorado River.

Above mileage marker 11 (odometer 12,421) there is a straight stretch of the river.

We stop at mileage marker 12.

Past mileage marker 13 the area opens up wider. This is Professor Valley.

At mileage marker 14 is the Red Cliff Lodge and Cowboy Museum.

At mileage marker 15 the canyon is really wide.

Odometer reading 12,427. The canyon narrows for a little while, but quickly widens up again just below mileage marker 18.

At mileage marker 19 we are no longer close to the Colorado River.

Near mileage marker 20 (odometer 12,429) we stop to take a backward photo of the area from which we just came. Oh, no! The gnats are here!

Just beyond mileage marker 20 is the area of Onion Creek.

Past mileage marker 22 we get photos of a pretty scene in back of our car.

Near mileage marker 23 we sees spire and buttes. A distinctive formation is Castle Rock (formerly called Castleton Spires/Castleton Rock).  From left to right, you can see Castleton (the largest spire), a block formation known as the Rectory, then 2 smaller spires known as the Nuns and finally a single spire called the Priest.

Pass Hittle Bottom Recreation Site.

At mileage marker 24 we can see the Colorado River again.

Before mileage marker 27 we take a horseshoe bend in the road.

At odometer reading 12,439, we see the old and new Dewey Bridges and the Dewey Bridge Recreation Site. There is not much left of the historical Dewey Bridge which one can see was a suspension bridge. The wooden bridge caught fire and was destroyed, but the suspension towers are still there. Also there is an historical plaque about the bridge.

The original bridge was constructed in 1916. It replaced the ferry here run by settler Richard Westwood. The bridge was Utah’s longest suspension bridge. It connected Moab and other southeast Utah towns to western Colorado, which supplied most of the provisions the Utah towns needed.

Past mileage marker 31 (odometer 12,441) we see the Colorado River, but no more red rocks.

At mileage marker 33 (odometer at 12,443) we find an open scene where we can see white and gray mountains in the distance.

Near mileage marker 34 the Colorado River turns away from us on the road.

At odometer reading 12,450 we come to a T-intersection. We turn right headed to the virtual ghost town of Cisco.

At 12,453 we find Cisco. It is much larger than I thought. It’s a collection of falling down houses and other buildings along with many abandoned cars. A group gathers at one of the parking areas in Cisco, but undoubtedly the people will be heading elsewhere.

At odometer reading 12,459 we get onto I-70. The speed limit is 75 m.p.h. A sign tells us that Fruta is 35 miles away and Grand Junction is 57 miles away.

Past mileage marker 277 (?) we cross from Utah into Colorado where a sign says: "Welcome to Colorful Colorado."

The mileage marker 1 corresponds to our odometer reading of 12,477.

Before mileage marker 16 we notice the Colorado River flowing at a fast pace.

In Fruta at odometer reading of 12,495 we take Exit 19 and get onto route 340 to go see the Colorado National Monument.

Odometer 12,498. We see Route 340 below us and the town of Fruta.

Odometer 12,500. We head through one of two short tunnels on the road. We stop to take some distant views of Fruta, as well as some Historic Trail photos.

We reach the Visitor Center at odometer 12, 502.. We take the 23-mile long Rim Rock Drive with 19 signed viewpoints to see the sights. The roads in the area were improved by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the Depression.

At odometer 12, 503 we take photos at the Coke Ovens Overlook where there are lots of hoodoos (that is, very oddly shaped rock formations created by terrific erosional forces).

Odometer 12,506. We are at Artist Point. We don’t think much of it. I guess we are getting a bit jaded after viewing so many rock formations, mountains, canyons and overlooks. We find what we think is the bluish-green mud stone in the area.

Odometer 12, 508. There are views of red and green sedimentary layers in the mountains.

Odometer 12,510. The view here is seriously blocked by the tall vegetation.

Odometer 12,513. Ute Canyon View.

Odometer 12,513. Red Canyon Overlook.

Odometer 12,516. Cold Shivers Point.

The first mileage marker in the Colorado National Monument was 44 and the last one was 68.

We get onto I-70 once again heading east.

Odometer 12,610. We arrive at Glenwood Springs. We stay at another Best Western again. We are surprised that the city is of a good size. We have a great dinner at Rib City. The waiter Chase was a real charmer, so we gave him a $20 dollar tip.

The odometer reads 12,615 milage at the end of the day.

- 12,407 milage from the start.

208 miles driven on Saturday.

Route 191 Moab

Route 128 Colorado River Scenic Byway

Colorado National Monument


SUNDAY, June 20, 2010.

The beginning mileage on the odometer is 12,615.

At Exit 254 for Lookout Mountain (odometer at 12,752), we stop to take photos of the small buffalo herd here enclosed by a high fence. There are 15 small, reddish blonde buffalo calves with their mothers. It’s always exciting to see these symbols of the Great American West. A lot of cars stopped to see the herd.

We get onto Route 40 which takes us to Lookout Mountain Road (at odometer 12,754). This is the road that will take us up to Buffalo Bill’s grave and museum.

Odometer 12,757. Turn into the parking lot of the grave and museum sites. Also here is a very good trading post – the one that had the most choices of souvenirs of all the gift shops at which we stopped.

There are a lot of visitors on this Father’s Day. At times it’s a bit hard to get a photo from a distance of the grave because of the many visitors in front of the grave of Buffalo Bill and his wife Louisa. The grave is just a short walk from the gift shop.

We took more pictures of the area. We could see the town of Golden below us, but it was really hard to see much of Denver because of the haze.

The museum has a lot of information about Buffalo Bill and his family. They also have a lot of the possessions of Buffalo Bill, like his costumes and the gigantic Colt Dragoon revolver he used while working for the Pony Express. His father was assassinated by a slavery sympathizer when dad spoke out against slavery. Bill was a rider for the Pony Express, an army scout, a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his action in conflicts with the Indians, a buffalo hunter, an actor and the producer of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. He died in 1917, after three of his four children had died. His wife Louisa saw the death of all of her children before she died. The couple had separated for awhile, but toward the end of Buffalo Bill’s life, they got back together in 1910.

In 1921 his foster son Johnny Baker opened up a museum, gift shop and restaurant in one building called the Pahaska Tepee. Pahaska was the Lakota name for Buffalo Bill and means "Long Hair". In 1979 the museum was moved out of the Pahaska Tepee to its own structure.

Odometer 12,760. We are back on Route 40 headed for Heritage Square where there are shops and an amusement park.

Odometer 12,765. Arrive at Heritage Square. We bought some things.

We then drove to the Denver Airport hotel complex where we stayed at the Ramada Inn.

When we turned the car in the mileage was 12,814.

The odometer reads 12,814 milage at the end of the day.

- 12,615 milage from the start.

199 miles driven on Sunday.

Buffalo Herd Exit 254 US 70

Buffalo Bill Gift Shop & Gravesite

Buffalo Bill Museum

Vews of Golden & Nearby from Buffalo Bill Parking Area

Heritage Square

The odometer reads 12,814 milage at the end of the trip.

- 11,354 milage from the start of the trip.

1,460 miles driven on the whole trip.


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