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-   -   The Utah Traverse (http://www.expeditionexchange.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1229)

montanablur October 6th, 2008 06:09 PM

The Utah Traverse
 
I love Southern Utah. I was married deep in Escalante Canyon with the Cottonwoods changing colors, I have lived in Moab and Boulder at different times of my life. My wife and I are constantly looking for property in Boulder to buy and setup our home for the Golden years, so it's natural that I am constantly going back, finding new routes from point A to Point B.

While I think Moab is the armpit of all of Southern Utah, it serves it's purpose as the industrial recreation capitol of the West. Just keep them there. For some reason or another I am always drawn to the old uranium boom town, even if just for a couple days, to remind how good it is elsewhere.

So for the sake of this "trip report" I am combining 5 years worth of trips across Southern Utah in what I think is the definitive Overland Trail from St George to Moab. While I have never done it from start to finish I will some day and I am dubbing it the Utah Traverse. I have broken it up into sections, which could be compressed into days if wanted, but I suggest spending more time per section than a scant 24 hours.

I don't have GPS coords or a map so please don't ask, it's all there in the pictures, fill up your tank and let your mind wander while your curiosities guide you, it worked for me and it will work for you.

Section 1




My jumping off point for all of my Utah trips has been St. George ever since I moved to Los Angeles in 2003. I like to camp just outside Zion National Park high on a mesa. This is a good start as it's 45 minutes from the interstate, but a world away from Southern California.

Section 2






From there it's East to a well traveled canyon route criss crossing the river for what felt like a million times... I wouldn't suggest camping within the confines of the canyon, while there are places to do it, the canyon serves as a massive drainage and can carry a lot of water during a flash flood. Once the canyon widens toward the southern end there are plenty of playas to spread out on... Lot's of quicksand in this one...

montanablur October 6th, 2008 08:50 PM

Section 3






After heading South through the canyon it's time to head East to Lake Powell and skirt it's western shores, albeit high above on the mesas. The camping is obvious if you want to camp here, though it is totally doable to push through to Escalante if you'd like.

Section 4







Escalante is a good fuel stop, the gas stations in town are generally less expensive than the one on the Eastern edge of this old ranching community. This section is an out and back, unfortunately but well worth it. The northern end of the Mormon Emigrant trail has many easily accessed slot canyons, dinosaur tracks and historical landmarks. The camping isn't all that great save for a few places up a wash and tucked into the sandstone alcoves toward the end of the road.

montanablur October 6th, 2008 09:18 PM

Section 5







If Southern Utah is God's Country, today's drive will take you through the capitol. Camping is abundant but you will have to search it out. No matter what you find it's all spectacular. For amazing coffee and a great lunch stop in at the Kiva Koffee house between Escalante and Boulder. Srah and her mother Barry are gracious hosts that make everything from scratch, from local ingredients.

Section 6











Everything up until this point was merely a warm up... From Boulder East you will dive into remote country, I suggest having a at least 10 gallons of extra fuel, more if possible to allow for getting purposely lost. I would allow 2-3 days in this section, there is a lot to see between Boulder and the Henry Mountains.

montanablur October 6th, 2008 09:49 PM

Section 7






This is a long section that finally lands you in Hanksville after going through Capitol Reef National Park and over the Henry Mountains. We camped at 9,000ft on the Eastern flanks of the last explored mountains in the lower 48 and watched all of canyon country explode in in color. To the East the LaSals pierced the horizon and to the South The Little Rockies framed the northern end of Lake Powell and it's drainage's... Fuel up in Hanksville after coming down the mountain, and get plenty of it...

JSQ October 6th, 2008 10:57 PM

Tremendous.

montanablur October 6th, 2008 11:25 PM

Section 8
















Driving South from Hanksville deep into Butch Cassidy's old stomping grounds you traverse Robbers Roost into the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. There are thousands of miles of roads and variations of routes possible in this section so bring lot's of extra fuel. The camping up high in the roost is anything but charming, but the camping down in Maze more than makes up for it. You could easily spend a month in this area and not see everything there is to see.

Section 9
















This section, if your lucky, will have fuel at Hite Marina on the northern end of Lake Powell. The camping here is amazing in a different way than the sandstone alcoves, canyons or spires of the previous sections. Here it is wide open with sweeping vistas or lakeside overlooks. The closest fuel is Blanding about 70 miles East... Natural Bridges National Monument is close by and worth checking out if for no other reason than saying you did it, for a true off the beaten path quest hike one of the many drainage's of the Cheese Box.

hochung October 6th, 2008 11:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JSQ
Tremendous.


no shit.

I look at the pics and they look better than when I was there in person. Isn't it usually the opposite?

hochung October 7th, 2008 12:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by montanablur
I don't have GPS coords or a map so please don't ask, it's all there in the pictures, fill up your tank and let your mind wander while your curiosities guide you, it worked for me and it will work for you.


I've developed a new appreciation for "Getting Lost"... right Sheki?

Quote:

Originally Posted by montanablur
This is a good start as it's 45 minutes from the interstate, but a world away from Southern California.


a BIG world away from So Cal.


Quote:

Originally Posted by montanablur
Lot's of quicksand*** in this one...


*** quicksand kills crankshaft position sensors.

I think I've also fallen in love with Southern Utah.

traveltoad October 7th, 2008 04:52 AM

It is for sure a magial part of the world.

Thanks for sharing.

Louis B. October 7th, 2008 09:32 AM

This was perfect, we are planning our move there very soon and for no other reason than pure serenity and calming views.

Thanks for sharing.

nosivad_bor October 7th, 2008 09:56 AM

You are hitting me where it hurts Sinuhe.

traveltoad October 7th, 2008 10:32 AM

Is it snowing there yet?

nosivad_bor October 7th, 2008 11:29 AM

Ha!

No snow or frost yet in my neck of the woods but spectacular fall weather arrived last Thursday. It won't be long now..;)

johnlee October 7th, 2008 12:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Louis B.
These photos are too much. Anyone want to get out of town this weekend??? I am near L.A. and this long weekend thanks to Columbus would be perfect!

:praying:




LOL.

montanablur October 8th, 2008 09:03 AM

Section 10






The Cedar Mesa area is so rich with Ancient Pueblo history it's hard not to trip over it. Because of it's proximity to Monument Valley you will see a lot more people around here but it's worth exploring. Butler Wash on the Eastern side of Comb Ridge has some nice camping and an abundant amount of hiking trails to it's many peaks.

Section 11






Leaving the hot desert to the South and climbing up to 9,000 feet it is another world along Elk Ridge where I have seen deer, bear and porcupine on my travels. It is much cooler at this elevation and groves of aspen are abundant. A side jaunt into Dark Canyon is a must.

Nadir_E October 8th, 2008 10:30 AM

Beautiful pictures - quite enthralling, Sinuhe. How much time do you allot for the drive out there from Southern California? A day and a half?

thanks for sharing - inspiring stuff!

montanablur October 8th, 2008 11:23 AM

No, I get to St. George in 7 hours...

johnlee October 8th, 2008 12:18 PM

First there was:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Louis B.
These photos are too much. Anyone want to get out of town this weekend??? I am near L.A. and this long weekend thanks to Columbus would be perfect!

:praying:


Then there was:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Louis B.
This message has been deleted by Louis B.


This is what it sounds like . . . when doves cry.

montanablur October 8th, 2008 03:04 PM

Section 12

Beef Basin. The Henry Mountains can be seen on the far horizon.


Beef Basin Ruin.












The Needles District


The Original.

Valhalla. Words don't even do this area justice...

traveltoad October 8th, 2008 03:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by montanablur
Valhalla. Words don't even do this area justice...


So true.

Although your photos do a damn fine job.

Louis B. October 8th, 2008 09:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by johnlee

This is what it sounds like . . . when doves cry.



This is what it sounds like when you quote songs from the 80's... Rockstar!

montanablur October 9th, 2008 08:25 AM

Section 13




Quicksand, this was completely dry the first time I drove over it, 20 minutes earlier.








Lockhart Basin Rd can be seen in lower right of this picture.


Camping among the hoodoos in Indian Creek

There are many variations on how to get to Moab from the Needles district and there is not a single bad choice, even the paved road is spectacular. Deep down in Lockhart Basin you can access the Colorado river by taking a side canyon west, the tamarisk is thick but when we were there a great beach awaited us in the heart of canyon country. Up high on the plateau or mesa to the east, many roads spider web out offering some of the most scenic camping on this side of Canyonlands.

Section 14






Moab is Moab, there can still be some sights to see off the beaten path. When we were out in this particular canyon, it was during the National Rally and we only saw one other truck and it was a Jeep. on these little exploratory missions we managed to find some amazing camping sites that may make going back to Moab worth it... Maybe.

And that is the Utah Traverse. I invite all of you to go out and find your way across the bottom of that state. Leave the GPS behind, forget about a schedule, follow the smallest dashed line on an old map and see where it takes you. Get out of your trucks and walk down a wash that has no name and look for hidden Ancient Pueblo treasures. Sit on the edge of a cliff, watch the swallows ride the invisible air currents and listen to the wind blow. Take only pictures and leave only footprints...

hochung October 9th, 2008 09:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by montanablur
Leave the GPS behind, forget about a schedule, follow the smallest dashed line on an old map and see where it takes you. Get out of your trucks and walk down a wash that has no name and look for hidden Ancient Pueblo treasures. Sit on the edge of a cliff, watch the swallows ride the invisible air currents and listen to the wind blow. Take only pictures and leave only footprints...


Indeed. Really.

PVKD October 9th, 2008 05:44 PM

Fantastic Pictures
 
Fantastic pictures, this would make an excellent extended excursion

Paul

greghirst October 9th, 2008 09:03 PM

Did Sheki point out his press photo plates to any Mormon girls and try to convince them he was shooting a spread for Hustler?


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