Planning the stay
Monday, May 24th, 2010 – Like always – it is a last minute decision. We say we need to call and make reservation and we never do. Then, on the day we leave we look at each other and we laugh. We didn’t make a reservation once again…
Patti open the map and looks for a place by Arches and Canyonland. The only parks around are by Moab, so we look for a Passport America campground. Patti finds a campground that looks nice, but the PA rates are starting on June 1st.
So we decide to extend our overnight stay for few days more. Now the question is where. Between here and Moab we could stop somewhere by Capitol Reef and Glen Canyon. The map shows a small town by the name of Hanksville. 2 street and trail. and – yap – one campground. The place is also a restaurant and the reviews are not the best, but they all refer to the restaurant. We decide to take the chance.
We call to make reservation, hoping to find available sites. The peak season is here and the parks are full of visitors. But guess what? Had a site on both campgrounds without a problem. Wow – that was almost too easy.
Moving dayThe way to Hanksville, like many other roads in this state is a Scenic Route. Hwy 89 takes us north to 12 which goes by the Red Canyon and Bryce, and continues through Dixie National Forest until it connects with 24 that takes us East to Hanksville through Capitol Reef. On the way we passed through mountains layered in so many different colors – White, Red, Grey, with so many different patterns and formations. Looking at my side mirrors was just like looking at a photos in an art gallery. Surprises are waiting behind any corner and curve, and it just got better and better. Even with the RV we stopped so many times to look at the views and take some pictures.
We arrived to the campground early afternoon. We did not have high expectation after reading all those reviews, but the registration process was so smooth, and the guys that work there were above and beyond just friendly. They really cared about the place. It was just bought by a new owner less than a year ago and they are trying very hard to get back the good reputation.
The place is not too big, and the sites are fairly spaced. They have 6 washers and 4 dryers in a clean laundry room, and lots of space for tents.
The restaurant is not so bad either. It might not be a gourmet top chef style, but the food is fresh and decent.
They sat with us almost two hours explaining to us about all the neat places around. We listened and wrote down a list of all the places we wanted to visit, and thought – we are here only a week… and there is so much to see!
Dinosaurs and GoblinsTuesday, May 25th, 2010 – The first day was dedicated to the close-by attractions. The area is owned pretty much by the BLM, and they gave permission to some geologist from IL to dig and expose Dinosaur bones that were found in the area. The digging is about 7 miles down a road named Cow Dung road. On the way there is a testing site of NASA that if you are lucky you could see moon vehicles running on the desert floor.
When we arrived to the site, a group of volunteers greeted us and gave us a nice tour around. They showed us real bones in the ground, and gave us a lecture about the theory of what happened and why they died. This is more Patti’s side – I got the short version – they were thirsty.
We still had half a day so we went to our next attraction on the list – Goblin Valley State Park. This park is north of Hanksville on Hwy 24, about 20 miles down the road. It is names after the shapes of those little rock formation found in this area. If I though we saw every possible shape of rocks in UT so far – I was surprised once again! We saw so many shapes in those rocks – I am sure Al (from The Bayfield Bunch ) would have loved it! Dogs, E.T., dolls and what not.
Glen Canyon and Lake PowellWednesday, May 26th, 2010 – After a day of rest, we took off again exploring. This trip is a full day trip to the Glen Canyon area. We made a big loop through hwy 276 to bullfrog, where we spent most of the day on the lake, crossed the lake on a ferry and drove all the way back on hwy 95.
The place is gorgeous, but let me tell you one thing – if you really want to have fun you have to have a boat. And if you are planning on renting one – you need to save some money for that – The cheapest we could find was for over $300, so we just swam in the lake, hiked on a small nature trail and enjoyed the cold water (Brrr – it was cold).
Capitol Reef National ParkFriday, May 28th, 2010 – Time is flying. When there is so much to see you don’t even pay attention to the time, and before you know it – you’ve got to leave. Already Friday– can’t believe it!
By the time we got back it was late afternoon. Just enough time to drive through the scenic drive by the visitor center and end up at the sunset point. But without a wide lens it was more frustrating than fun. I have to get me one of those.
We get lostSunday, May 30th, 2010 – We came back. This time we know what trail we are going to take, so after a short stop at one of the many overlooks, we parked at the trail head to Hickman Bridge and the north rim.
The trail to the bridge was just a small side trip to the longer and tougher Rim trail. The elevation change is over 1500 ft.
It didn’t take us long to reach the first bridge. I think this is the first bigger bridge we see here in UT. Probably noting compare to Arches, but it was impressive for us. We met the ranger just by the bridge and asked him if there is a way to connect to the Rim Overlook trail without going back, and he said – yes – there is! Hike up this canyon, and at the end just climb the rocks, and the trail should be right there on the top, very close to the edge of this canyon.
So we did. Little did we know that the hike would turn into rock climbing. Huge rocks climbed straight up to the very steep edge of the canyon walls. By the time we felt it was a little harder than we thought, it was too late to turn around. So we continued, and we made it! We are very proud of ourselves – this is a challenge even for younger ones.
Where is the trail?Now that we were up we started to look for the trail. We did find those rock piles that usually mark the trails, but which way? We decided to go west, that fits the general direction of the Rim. We followed this trail which became harder and harder to follow. We entered another Canyon with huge walls that went straight up, and were not exactly sure how we can get out of that canyon, but as long as we found those rock piles, we continued. Until we reached the end. And there was no trail anymore.
We must be missing something, we thought. We started climbing the canyon to the bottom of the walls, hoping to see the trail from up above. The sand was soft and very hard to walk on, and even harder to climb. Luckily we had enough water. I wasn’t worried since we had our GPS with us, and at the worst case we could track back.
When we reached the end of the slope at the foot of this wall we noticed a small trail, or at least it looked like a trail. We slowly started descending and followed the trail on the north side of the canyon back to the east. After a while we finally reached the rim and identified the main trail we lost.
We started on the trail marked in Blue. we then continued on the red trail, while we should have taken the Orange trail. We merged with the original trail on the Green part, and came back taking the purple trail this time back to the blue and to the car.
It was a little spooky, but we learned to appreciate the equipment we carry, in particular the GPS.
That’s it for this location. Getting ready to move again. We will miss this campground, and we will probably be back here again one day.