Lake Mead N.R.A.

Lake Mead N.R.A.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


July 30, 2010.
The day started off a bit overcast, which may have caused us to sleep in a little too late! Undecided about what to do today, I talked with the park owner. He's a deputy sheriff for San Juan County. He suggested that we take a scenic drive over The Abajo Mountains
It was about noon by the time we were ready to go anywhere. We drove into town and followed the directions I was given to Abajo Drive. Although the steep climb over the mountains is paved, we decided to venture off-road for a while...because we can!
We saw several deer along the dirt roads. The vistas were spectacular.
The Abajo Mountains, also called the Blue Mountains, are a small mountain range west of Monticello, Utah, south of Canyonlands National Park and north of Blanding, Utah. The mountain range is located within the Manti-La Sal National Forest. The highest peak within the range is Abajo Peak at 11,360 feet (3,463 m)
We only climbed to about 8500 ft. but we could see Canyon Lands in the distance.
After descending down the mountain on the opposite side, we discovered we were only 20 miles from Canyonlands National Park so, we decided to drive over to the park. The first stop along the way was a historic site known as Newspaper Rock. (Click on the picture below to expand the picture and read about the history).
With only a 3 ft chain link fence around the border of the rock, we were able to walk right up to the petroglyphs.
After viewing Newspaper Rock, we continued the long but breathtaking drive towards the entrance to Canyonlands National Park (Needles District).
Canyonlands preserves an immense wilderness of rock at the heart of the Colorado Plateau. Water and gravity have been the prime architects of this land, cutting flat layers of sedimentary rock into hundreds of colorful canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches and spires. At center stage are two great canyons, those carved by the Green and Colorado rivers. Surround the rivers are vast and very different regions of the park: to the north, Island in the Sky; to the west, the Maze; and to the east, the Needles. The areas share a common primitive spirit and wild desert atmosphere. Each also offers its own special rewards. 
Few people were familiar with these remote lands and rivers when the park was established in 1964. Prehistoric Native Americans, cowboys, river explorers and uranium prospectors had dared to enter this rugged corner of south-eastern Utah, but few others did. To a large degree, Canyonlands remains untrammeled today. Its roads are mostly unpaved, its trails primitive, its rivers free-flowing. Throughout its 527 square miles roam desert bighorn sheep, coyotes and other animals native to this land. Canyonlands is wild America.
We were traveling in the Needles District.

The rugged canyons of what is now Canyonlands National Park have witnessed many human events since the earliest Americans. The Paleo-Indians entered the region around 10,000 years ago. The tides of human occupation have ebbed and flowed in concert with the availability of and demand for the various resources the canyon country has to offer.
The first people known to inhabit Canyonlands were the Archaic hunter-gatherers, wandered the area 2,000 to 10,000 years ago in search of large game animals and edible plants. They who lived in the open or camped under overhangs, leaving behind such artifacts as projectile points, atlatls or spear throwers, fire hearths, and ghost-like pictographs.

Most cliffs of canyonlands show classic profiles which can be seen throughout the southwest. Some of Canyonlands' rocks are massive layers of uniform sand which have become cemented. They are the cliff formers such as the Wingate and Cedar Mesa Sandstones. Gravity is an important partner, contributing to erosion as much as the infrequent rains. The softer, underlying rock layers erode more quickly. This undercuts the harder upper layers and they break off in huge slabs. Sometimes they form beautiful arched alcoves and, more frequently, the falling rock leaves vertical cliffs.

Canyonlands is located within a geologic region called the Colorado Plateau. It is a great section of continental crust that has endured millions of years of rock building and erosion.
Advancing and retreating oceans left thick deposits of beach sands and marine limestones. Great river systems moved tons of sediment from ancient eroding mountain ranges such as the Ancestral Rockies (forerunners of today's Rocky Mountains) and deposited that sediment in low-lying areas. Buried sediment became solid rock as pressure from overlying layers and filtering water cemented them.
After millions of years of predominantly rock-building processes, the erosion that continues today began. Roughly 10 million years ago, plates in the Earth's crust moved in such a way that the western edge of the continent began to rise. The slowly rising land mass, including the Colorado Plateau, became higher and therefore more susceptible to erosion Newly elevated highlands captured rain and snowfall and gave birth to the Colorado River system. The uplifting land caused rivers to down-cut more rapidly, entrenching themselves in solid rock. The results are the 2,000 foot deep canyons of the Colorado and Green Rivers cutting through the heart of Canyonlands.

The origins of the thousands of small canyons found in the area may be puzzling at first glance. Most of the year, time seems to stand still and the process of erosion is imperceptible. To witness the occasional rock fall or landslide is exceptional luck. But some of the erosive processes are sudden and violent. Sparse vegetation and an abundance of exposed rock make Canyonlands especially vulnerable to flash flooding. Thunderstorms drop huge amounts of rain locally. With little soil and vegetation to hold the water, runoff is fast. It quickly collects in gullies and small washes, magnifying its power as water funnels into the canyons. The erosive power of the debris and sediment-laden water is tremendous. Flash floods are continually scouring and deepening the canyons.
It was hot in the Canyon Lands during our visit with temperatures in the mid 90's. Usually not bad but with the monsoon season in full bloom it was also a bit humid...though not Florida humid! We did a little hiking around the overlooks and were in awe of the deafening silence. You know that quiet ringing you get in your ears when there's nothing to hear...awesome! The rocks themselves have a sandpaper texture to them making them very grippy and easy to walk on.
As we left the park, we discussed our original plan to return and do some longer hikes. Ultimately we decided against returning due to the long drive to get there (close to 100 miles round trip) coupled with the heat. We felt we had captured the essence of the park and returning this trip wasn't something we both wanted to do. However, I would highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Back to Colorado for Groceries

July 29, 2010.
We woke to an overcast cool morning with a high expected of 75 and a good chance of rain.
Due to poor planning we arrived in Monticello, Utah with few groceries. Joyce had checked out the small grocery in town and was not satisfied. So, after talking with some locals we decided the best option was to head back into Colorado to the closest Walmart in Cortez about 56 miles one way!
We had never been to Cortez and it looked like it was going to rain today so we thought it was as good a day as any to make the long trip. The road out was full of hills dipping in and out of big swells across farming land. It was a nice ride.
We made it to the SuperWalmart, made our purchases and got home without incident. About an hour after getting home it began to rain and continued raining till after dark.
All is well, just another day in the life...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mountain View RV Park, Monticello, Utah

July 28, 2010.
So, I said in the last post, I would post some pictures of Mountain View RV Park and provide some more details.  
The only information I had on this park was from what I read on the website RV Park Reviews and from the Mountain View RV Park. I knew from calling ahead that with tax it would be $21.04 per day so I didn't have high expectations. However, the location in Utah and near Canyon Lands National Park, Moab and Monument Valley made it appealing. More importantly its at 7900 ft. and cool!
When we pulled in (after driving through town) Joyce immediately didn't like the park as it is a bit tight. However, we've been in tighter spots and paid a lot more. Of course the other reason is that there isn't any real shopping to speak of in Monticello. In fact the closest grocery store is 24 miles away.
We decided (with a little persuasion) to stay for a week as planned. They have about four or five 50 amp sites however, they are gravel sites with no grass or trees. So I took a 30 amp pull-through for the shade.
The park fills fast with folks passing through the area. It's located right off Hwy 191 so it's a little noisy with traffic. However, it seems to be quiet at night.
This morning we rode our bikes into town. Below is a picture of the San Juan County Court House.
We did some window shopping and checked out the few shops along main street.
We stopped for a late pizza lunch and then took our time riding back to the campground. There's not a whole lot to see in the town of Monticello.
Later after dinner, we took Maggie and Rico for a walk in town as we enjoyed the cool evening.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Travel Day to Monticello, Utah

July 27, 2010.
Today was a travel day into Utah specifically, Monticello Utah. Our destination was Mountain View RV Park. Monticello is about 50 miles south of Moab but at 7900 ft. it's cooler than Moab which has been experiencing temperatures over 100.
We got loaded hitched and ready to go by 9:00. Actually we did a lot of packing and cleaning yesterday.

The route took us up and down steep mountains between Ridgeway and Telluride.

We traveled along a beautiful winding red rock river gorge.
Out on the high plains we were still experiencing steep grades and rougher roads.

We tend to take the roads less traveled which is sometimes both good and bad. Some of our routes and particularly the section over Hwy 141 had some really steep sections with 20 mph hair pin turns.
You can see the clouds were building throughout the day as we entered Utah.
Descending into the town of Monticello, we could see it was raining on the Abajo Mountains.
Monticello is packed full of Old American West history.  In the 1800's so many fugitives fled to Monticello to escape the hand of the law in the isolated mountains and canyons, that it became known as the Outlaw Trail.  Monticello offers breathtaking views, serene wildlife, and fabulous fun.  

We made it to Mountain View RV Park and got set up before the rain caught up to us. It was a cold rain which quickly brought the temperature down to 68 degrees. Mountain View RV Park is a small private park in Monticello. The sites are tight but shady. I wanted shade so we had to take a 30 amp site with full hook-up.
I'll post pictures and more about the campground in my next post.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Owl Creek Pass

July 25, 2010.
Another beautiful day in the Montrose Valley. After a late start (around noon) we decided to take an off-road trail up and over Owl Creek Pass. Some locals had told us about it. They claimed it has some of the best views of any of the Jeep trails.
The Owl Creek Pass trail is 41 miles long. I had only plannned on doing a few miles and then turning back.
We saw this Red Tail Hawk in the road. He then flew off into this tree.
After about 12 miles into it, we decided to complete the whole loop of 41 off-road miles.

We had climbed to about 9K feet where the top and bottom picture were taken.
The locals tell us that some of the scenes for True Grit were filmed in this pasture as well as several Marlboro Man commercials. This pasture is just northeast of Ridgeway, Co. were there was additional filming in town.
At the summit, a mere 10K plus feet!
Still at the summit, we were chased off by swarms of flies shortly after taking this picture.

This young buck crossed our path. Notice the velvety horns.

We drove through many beautiful Aspen Forests like the one below.
When we finally got back to a paved road we were 21 miles east of Montrose. We drove into town washed the Jeep and filled it up in preparation for moving on in a couple of days. We are discovering that we are getting 18-22 mpg from the Jeep. The mileage is around 18 when off-road and low 20's on the highway around 60 mph.
The Jeep is great for off-road and around town. It's a bit underpowered at highway speeds over 60 mph, but I'm very satisfied with it. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Montrose Fair/ Rodeo Parade

July 24, 2010.
The day started off with beautiful sunny skies and cool temps. We got out early to go into the town of Montrose to watch the parade for the fair and rodeo that starts today.
We parked on Main Street about 9:30 and looked around for signs of a parade. We were told the parade would be at 10:00. There weren't many people around. We walked into a local breakfast joint and asked about the parade. They advised after pausing that yes today is the day of the parade. So we sat outside and had some breakfast as we waited.
Around 10:00 the parade started with the local police blocking Main Street. 

I gotta tell ya it was the most pathetic parade we have ever seen! 

But it was fun anyway as we got a chance to talk with some of the locals and explore some of the shops on Main Street.
Afterwards we did some shopping in town and picked up some more of the Olathe Sweet corn. Back home it was getting warm and humid. We ate lunch and took a short afternoon nap. After dinner we attended the park's "ice cream social" and enjoyed talking and meeting folks.
Just another leisurely day, enjoying the RV lifestyle.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hike in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

July 22, 2010.
The weather cleared overnight here in the Montrose Valley of Colorado. We awoke to cool and overcast morning. A perfect morning to go hiking. We had planned to get up early i.e. 7:00. but, we slept till 9:00! So we got off to a late start with no one to blame but ourselves.
We walked the dogs and got our Camelbacks loaded and hit the road for the 25 mile drive to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. We took off on the Rim Rock Trail.
The Rim Rock Trail does exactly as it sounds, it follows the south rim of the canyon allowing for breathtaking views.

There are plenty of photo opportunities and we took a lot of photos. Somehow, the pictures can't capture the depth and beauty of the canyon.
The trail was rocky and filled with some up and down elevation changes. The trail itself is at 8000 ft.

After completing the Rock Rim Trail, we did a portion of a steeper trail, the name of which escapes me. We had a great time coupled with some good exercise. We were finished after just a few hours and headed back home but not before stopping in Montrose to buy some corn. The first harvest of Olathe Sweet Corn is being sold out of the bed of pick-up trucks in town. It's such a mainstay of the community that they have an annual sweet corn festival. We had heard that it's some of the best corn you'll ever taste. So we bought a half dozen ears (they were small).
Back home it was still cool and overcast so I decided it was a perfect time to get up on the roof of our Carriage Cameo fifth wheel to do the annual A/C maintenance which consists of blowing out the evaporator coils. So I got out the air compressor, started it up on the ground and pulled the hose up to the roof. I pulled both A/C covers off and thoroughly blew out all the leaves, sticks and debris hidden inside. I then focused the compressed air on the coils making sure they were cleared of dust and dirt.
With that job done it was soon time to boil the corn and have dinner. I gotta tell ya, the corn was fabulous! We will be getting more!