Monday, October 3, 2016

Kanab Utah - Cottonwood Canyon Road

October 3, 2016

Today was our day for an exciting back country road adventure! Whenever possible Ben loves to take a day and explore an area in depth on an off the major highways. When we knew we were going to be in this area an extra day we researched a little and found the Cottonwood Canyon area – about 30 miles from Kanab towards Page is an unpaved road that runs about 40 miles north along some interesting rock formations and along a river.  We would explore it for about 15 to 20 miles or until we felt it was time to return…

Our little Sprinter at the campsite

We left camp about 10 and came to the turn off for Cottonwood Canyon about 10:30.  The interesting thing about the drive along the plateau was all the workers laying fiber-optic cable. In some areas the traffic was one way as they were digging a small ditch along the shoulder of the road to bury the cable – the ground is solid rock so guess they had to use the area that had already been excavated.  To our north along US 89 are Vermillion Cliffs – really striking.  My two goals for the trip were Aspen and Red Rocks.  I have certainly met my goals!

Cottonwood Canyon Road is non-paved – rock and dirt. It is impassible in wet weather and after driving it I can see why.  The first portion was climbing up and down in rolling low rock hills.  The colors are very interesting – grey, brown, black, and white for the first part – it is overcast for while what I could say is drab colors it is still striking and beautiful.  While there were short portions of the road with what I call washboard finish – gives you a good shaking!- most of the road was smooth.  There had been rain within the last week and there were some places where the road had big chunks washed out.  You just had to drive around the huge holes in the road.  If you were not watching you could easily break an axle.   We passed several cars, trucks, jeeps, and even one truck with a camper. As long as you were driving carefully no one seemed to be having any problems.  My photos are a bit out of oorder and I am having some difficulty uploading so what you see is what you get!
Road Goes On and On
Huge Rocks along the Road
Paria River
Entrance to Cottonwood Canyon

After we crossed one of the ridges and snaked our way on switchbacks down we followed the Paria River for several miles in a canyon with the river and a red and white rock formation called the cockscomb to our right.  On the left was a ridge of brown, grey, and multicolor high cliffs with huge chunks of rock that have tumbled down over the years.  It was very dramatic and we enjoyed the striking scenery.
The red and white colors became more distinct the further we went.  The bright yellow rabbit bush grew in abundance and in some areas there were cottonwood trees along the river.  Most of them however had not turned bright yellow at the lower elevation. We came to an area where the road was making a turn to the west and we felt we were ready to turn around.  Back a couple miles was an area with huge rocks fallen from the cliffs – perfect back drop for a lunch-break.  One thing kept us from feeling we were in a remote desolate area – the power transmission lines that were nearly always present!
Side Canyon

Beautiful Red Rocks

Heading Back

Perfect Lunch Stop
Half the Road is washed away

We continued back to the main road, stopping a couple times to collect a few rocks for a new cairn for our back yard. We probably passed 20 vehicles during our 28 miles and maybe 3 ½ hours.  We stopped a couple times to check on things in the back of the Sprinter that had been displaced from the rough roads.  The Sprinter takes to the rough roads like the truck that it is but some of our conveniences added to the vehicle do not always like the bumps and such.  Ben finally took the TV down so that it did not fall. The dirt seemed to seep in to on the dirt road so we knew we would have some clean-up work to do when we got back to camp.

Back on US 89 we continued on to Big Water Grand Staircase Escalante Visitor Center which was about 10 miles past Cottonwood Canyon.  Glad we did – they had an interesting display on all the rock layers of the geography in the entire area we have been covering these past few days – for a non-scientist it is hard to remember what layer is what – I just enjoy the various colors and shapes.  The other interesting thing was there was a new dinosaur discovered nearby in 1999 – previously it had only been found in China.  Cool! 
Vermillion Cliffs

Back at camp about 4:00 we spent 45 minutes cleaning up and putting things back in their place.  No major damage just a lot of screws that needed to be tightened up and dust wiped off.  How did that dirt get inside the Sprinter??  Cooked supper – one of our favorite camping meals – Kibasha sausage, can of white potatoes browned, add can of Bavarian sauerkraut and some brown sugar….mix it all up in a skillet and simmer a bit. 

Campground is full again tonight…sure are a lot of people traveling and camping.

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