Thursday, April 24, 2014

Apr 24 – Long Canyon Rd to Dead Horse State Park

It was a perfect day weather wise. Sunny and clear, high of 22C and no wind.

One of the items on my list was to go to nearby Dead Horse Point State Park. It has a point high up on the mesa that overlooks a bend in the Colorado River. I had read that the best time to go to the point is at sunrise. Other people’s have taken amazing sunrise pictures of the place but we both knew that sunrise was not going to happen. We are just not morning people. You live within your abilities.

The RV is at 4500 foot elevation and Dead Horse Point is at 6000 feet. You can take the easy way and go the long way around on the highway for a gradual climb or you can take one of several 4wd only road that take a somewhat more aggressive direct approach.

I had read that the Long Canyon Road should be doable in the CRV so off we went. The maps I had in the RV called the road Long Canyon. When I went to program the GPS in the CRV it called it Pucker Pass Road. Hmm, not a good sign.

We drove though Moab and turned onto a state road that runs along the Colorado River.



At the appropriate place there was a sign saying there was a viewpoint and a small dirt parking lot. At the end of the lot we saw an unsigned road heading off into the wilderness. The car GPS and my tablet GPS said we were in the right place so we carefully headed off.

It turned out the road was not that bad at all. It was rough with some rocks but there was only one place where I was glad we had 4wd. I just put the CRV in first gear and we puttered up the road. There was so much to see that we were in no hurry.




We only saw three other vehicles on the road. One was going down. One other tourist passed us while we were stopped taking pictures and a National Forest Ranger drove by at another spot. I asked him about the road and he said we should have no problem.



This flower was growing part way down a near vertical cliff.



It looked like there had been a bit of landslide, below.



Jennie was not impressed by some of the narrower spots.



We drove up alongside this narrow wall. You will see it from above in later pictures.



Part way up we came to this spot where a huge stone had fallen across the road. They didn’t blast the rock so I assume they dug the road underneath it.





The section below may not look steep but I think it is the steepest grade I have driven up. The wheel spun a few times trying to get a grip.


Ever upward.


At the top there was a point where you could camp it you didn’t need any facilities, including a toilet. I walked out to the end for a view back down where we had come from. The road followed the far side of this wall. You can see a bit of it at this end of the wall.



Scroll right for the panorama.


At the top we drove on the mesa for a short while before joining the highway just before the entrance to the park.


We stopped at the visitors center and took a short paved path out to a viewpoint. The center is not at the end of Dead Horse Point but at the start. To get to the end of the point you can drive or walk about 2 miles on a trail along the east rim of the point. We walked but first we checked out the viewpoint.

You can see a rock fence in the top right of the picture below. The path allowed you to get very close to the edge.




By now it was lunch time. Jennie ate on the bench while I sat on the wall. You may notice the blue pools in the distance. I will explain those in a bit.




We headed off on the east rim trail. The initial part was a walk through the sagebrush and not too close to the edge.



We talked to a couple from Montana and exchanged picture taking sessions.


At about half way there was a side trail that went a short way down to a viewpoint. Jennie stayed and I went down for a quick look.



Looking back up to Jennie talking with another woman that declined the side trip.


The requisite panorama, scroll right. The end of Dead Horse Point is at the very right edge.


The blue pools are a potash mining operation. There is a huge potassium chloride salt done underground. They pump water down to dissolve the salt and pump it up again into these pools to get the water to evaporate. They dye the water blue so that it absorbs more sunlight and evaporates faster. They are kind of pretty but they definitely look out of place here.


This is a look back at the point where I took the panorama.



And forward to Dead Horse Point.


There was another nice walkway around the edge.




There is another 4wd road at the bottom of the canyon. The ranger said the CRV would probably not be able to handle it but it looks so interesting I think we will have to give it a try. If we have to turn around, no problem.



At the very end of the point there is a viewpoint of a horseshoe bend in the Colorado River far below.



You can see the road follows the river, above, and then climbs up the mesa wall, below.


Two people are perched on the edge, below, that wanted a different view.


The hiking trail continues in a loop around along the west rim of the point back to the visitors center. We followed it for a short while.


Following the west rim trail would have meant 2.5 miles back to the car. By now we were pretty tired so we took the 1.5 mile portion of the east rim trail back instead.



We also took the highway all the way back to the RV.

1 comment:

  1. Pucker Pass Road - I love it! You just need to pull over and pucker up!! :-) Those roads are the most rugged yet and the CRV proves itself once again. Love the panorama shots. It's rainy here today so we're having coffee and looking through four days worth of your blog! Thanks!!!