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Trail of the Ancients
and the Grand Circle

Virtual Road Trip -2020-21
Page 1 - Calgary to Canyon de Chelly


The Bucket List

Remaining healthy during the COVID 19 Pandemic was the most important matter on the agenda for 2020. Road tripping across the border into the States was impossible. Planned trips were moved a couple of times and finally cancelled. The border between Canada and US was (and still is) closed. Any kind of travel is impossible. For that matter, it is not even desirable. More on the Virus

During the lockdown, I went through the whole website, tweaked where necessary, made the changes for the upcoming cancelation of Flash, made new movies, and created the photo album.

While going though everything, I realized how lucky I am to have travelled when I did and to be able to do the things I have. I feel like I've done it all. I've been to an Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, Quilt Gardens in Indiana, the International Peace Garden between Manitoba and North Dakota, and National Parks and Monuments all across Canada and the United States. The beautiful cacti forests of the southwestern deserts captured my heart. Of course, we can't leave out "North to Alaska" (which ironically, living up to it's legacy, might just be our "final frontier").

The road south lead us to Oatman, Route 66, Pony Express stations, Tombstone and ghost towns - oh so many ghost towns. Then there are those crazy places we discovered along the way. We have explored the haunted Myrtles Plantation, Luckenbach, Texas, Niagara Falls, New Orleans, Dollywood and Graceland. We've been to Washington, DC., the Mexican Border in Arizona, and Universal Studios in California.

We've travelled every twisty, winding road that Karen could find on the map. We have braved the incredible Burr Trail and the back road from Shonto to the Navajo National Monument. We have driven the dusty roads of Highway 261, Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley.

But after all that, there is one trip left on our bucket list - the Trail of the Ancients. So as 2020 pushed to a close and there is no travel post for this year, I decided to travel the Trail - virtually! Maybe someday we will be able to make it come true. Thanks to Wikipedia and the Trail of the Ancients websites for giving us the itinerary.
We have to leave a few things to our imaginations. Those crazy things we do along the way - the unscheduled stops, where we ate, the animals, the flowers, the backroads, and of course the "change of plans" that completely derail us. Those remain to be seen.

  • No Q's Yet
  • No X's Yet
  • No Z's Yet
To Page 2 - Canyon de Chelly to Calgary

Day One - Calgary to Kalispell

We are extremely excited about this trip. It is the first time since 2017 that we have ventured out for parts unknown. It is also the first time since the Pandemic that we are able to cross the border - and we are finally going to do the Trail of the Ancients. But we have to get there first.

Our excitement didn't help us get out of town any faster. I prepared the sandwiches the night before. I was two blocks away when I realized I forgot to pack them. The good news - only one trip home and I was on my way. Arriving at Karen's, Steve helped us pack the car. Once again, Karen has forgotten to pack "light" and our first re-organization of the trunk took place. Off we went, but had to turn around just before Glenmore Trail. Karen forgot her infamous "straw hat".

Finally we were on our way - and as Steve would predict - it's nearly 11:00 am!!

On the road again
Goin' places that I've never been
Seein' things that I may never see again
And I can't wait to get on the road again
Virtual highways today (starting at Strathmore) were County Road 817 to Caresland, hwys 24 and 23 to hwy 3, then east to Lethbridge. Just to mix things up, we headed south from Lethbridge on hwy 5 through McGrath to Cardston where we turned south on hwy 2 to the US border & onto US hwy 89. State hwy 49 was open so we took it over the mountain connecting with US 2 at East Glacier. We continued west through Columbia Falls on State hwy 40 and finally south to Kalispell on US 93. Google Map

Village Quilts, Lethbridge

It was easy for us to get our fat quarters in Alberta and also stop at one of the nicest shops as a bonus. Village Quilts, thankfully, survived the Covid economic crises. Since our theme this year is southwestern, we were pleased to be able to find some southwestern fabric. It's hard to imagine what kind of quilt we will be making for our travel quilts this year. Hopefully, once we are in the four corners area, we will find some inspiration. Village Quilts

Babb-Piegan Border Station c. 1933

Piegan-Carway Border Crossing

The Piegan–Carway Border Crossing, was established in 1925 connecting the towns of Babb, Montana and Cardston, Alberta. The name Carway is a blended word of Cardston and Highway. The small village of Carway, Alberta has all but vanished, with the Carway School closing in 1954. The old US log cabin-style border station was registered on the National Register of Historic Places on April 12, 2006 as #06000252.

St. Mary, Montana

St. Mary is an unincorporated community on the western border of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation adjacent to Glacier National Park. The village is the eastern terminus of the Going-to-the-Sun Road which bisects the park. Fewer than 50 people reside in the village year-round. Several lodges, restaurants and cafés, a small grocery store, two gas stations and campgrounds are located in the village. However, most tourist services are closed during the winter months.

State Highway 49 - The Looking Glass Road

The decision to go over Hwy 49 meant that we would miss the Going to the Sun Road through Glacier National Park but we would get to Kalispell earlier. Leaving at 11:00 am doesn't give us much time to tour around. Highway 49 is steep, narrow, and winding. It is usually impassable during the winter months. The Looking Glass Road gets its name from the Nez Perce Chief "Looking Glass".

Looking Glass Road

Hungry Horse, Montana

The town sprang up during the construction of Hungry Horse Dam when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation placed more than one hundred prefabricated buildings at the site to house workers. The name comes from a local legend about two horses, Tex and Jerry, that escaped and almost starved to death in deep snow along the South Fork of the Flathead River. Hungry Horse claims fame as the wild huckleberry capital of the West. This sweet, tart wild berry grows only in moist mountain areas and cannot be commercially grown.

The Huckleberry Patch - Hungry Horse, Montana

We were on our final stretch now, so we took the time to stop at the Huckleberry Patch for huckleberry pie and ice cream. We rarely pass through this area that we don't take the time to stop here. This is where we first discovered Jeff Fleming's Bears. After shopping around for a bit, and stocking up with huckleberry treats for the road, we headed to Kalispell. The Huckleberry Patch

Kalispell, Montana

We arrived in Kalispell in good time. After booking into our hotel, we went to Walmart to grocery shop for our trip. We settled into our room and relaxed for the rest of the night. We don't have far to travel tomorrow, so we will be able to sleep in a bit. We plan to stay in town until Glacier Quilts and Jeff Fleming's Bear Country Gallery open before heading to Coeur d'Alene.

Post Note - Day One: Travelling from home to Kalispell is so routine that we don't notice the breathtaking views and other points of interest along the way anymore. Digging around virtually brought to light some new and interesting tidbits of information. I never knew anything about the Carway Border Crossing or that Highway 49 was named "Looking Glass Road" after Nez Perce Chief Looking Glass. Travelling virtually doesn't really feel much different than driving. I still get stiff as a board from sitting for hours on end, time just whizzes by, my feet swell, and I'm totally exhausted by the time I shut down for the day - which is virtually nearing midnight!

Day 2 - Kalispell to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Highways today were south on US 95 to Elmo, MT 28 to Plains, west on MT 200 to Thompson Falls, west on MT Secondary Hwy 471 and Idaho NF 9 (Thompson Pass Road/Prichard Creek Road/Coeur D'Alene River Road) to Kingston, and finally I-90 to Coeur d'Alene. Google Map

Glacier Quilts, Kalispell, MT

We checked out of the hotel in time to get to Glacier Quilts when they opened. As always, it is extremely difficult to get in and out of this store with any speed. It was a good thing we didn't have to hurry. After spending nearly 45 minutes checking out every nook and cranny, we were ready to go with our fat quarters in hand. They didn't have much in the way of southwestern fabric but there was lots of native and cowboy fabric that would blend in nicely. Glacier Quilts

Bear Country Gallery, Kalispell, MT

Next stop before leaving town is a visit to Jeff Fleming's Bear Country Gallery to check out what is new. We "always" find something new to buy. Bear Country Gallery features Jeff's full collection of artwork from the lovable Bearfoots to his limited edition bronze sculptures, and one of a kind wood and steel sculptures. Bear Country Gallery

Hap

A few years ago, a wonderful appliqué quilt patterns featuring Jeff's Bears started production. I made two Hap quilts - one for me and one for Karen. Hap is especially important to Karen because it was her father's name and now she has a new grandson named Hap.

US Highway 93, Montana

Route 93 is a major north–south highway in both the United States and Canada crossing the international border at Roosville. The southern terminus is at Wickenburg, Arizona and the northern terminus is at Jasper, Alberta. This little stretch of highway we are temporarily on today, is part of a very big picture.

It's 1360 miles meanders through the states of Arizona, Nevada, Idaho and Montana and the Provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. Hwy 93 connects several major cities including Kingman, Las Vegas, Twin Falls, Missoula, Kalispell, and Whitefish. It takes you to the historic Hoover Dam, Jackpot, Nevada, Radius Hot Springs and the Columbia Icefields.

Great Basin National Park, Kootenay National Park, Banff National Park and Jasper National Park are all along Hwy 93. Many parts of the highway are designated Scenic Byways including Joshua Forest Parkway, Nevada Scenic Byway, Salmon River Scenic Byway, Lewis and Clark Trail, and the Columbia Icefields Parkway. The stretch of highway from Ely to Schellbourne Ranch is part of the Lincoln Highway, the first road across the United States.

It is interesting to note that over the years, we have been on every stretch of this highway with the exception of the Canadian Columbia Icefields Parkway. There certainly is a lot of history in one road.

State Highway 28, Montana

Montana State Highway 28 is approximately 47 miles long beginning at the Hwy 93 junction at Elmo and ending at State Highway 200 in Plains. With the exception of a few miles, the highway is entirely within the Flathead Indian Reservation. The highway climbs through steep forest terrain between the two plains.

Flathead Indian Reservation

The Flathead Indian Reservation, located on the Flathead River, is home to the Bitterroot Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d'Oreilles tribes – also known as the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation. Flathead Lake lies in the northeast corner of the reservation. All but the northern tip of Flathead Lake is part of the reservation. Flathead Reservation Map

Hellgate Treaty

The reservation was created July 16, 1855 by the Treaty of Hellgate. Notably one-sided the Treaty took nearly 22 million acres of land from the Tribes in return for the paltry sum $120,000.00. The Treaty was not ratified by Congress until April 18, 1859 creating much distrust and resentment of the government by the Tribes.

Ward Hotel c 1912-1913

Thompson Falls, Montana

Thompson Falls, established in 1910, was named after explorer and fur trader David Thompson. The arrival of the railroad in 1881 brought the first real activity to the area. During the gold rush, the town grew to accommodate the men going to the mines. The Ward Hotel was registered on the National Register of Historic Places on December 22, 1986 as #86002769.

Murray Hotel circa 1885

Murray, Idaho

Located along the Thompson Pass Road Murray, now home to about 50 people, was one of several boisterous mining camps that became active in the late 1880s. Mines operated in the area from the 1880s to the 1950s. In 1884, a judge fined Wyatt Earp $65.00 for claim jumping after he forced William Payne off his land at gunpoint near Murray.

Prichard, Idaho

A post office called Prichard was established in 1910, and remained in operation until 1943. The community derived its name from Andrew J. Prichard, a gold prospector.

CCC Camp Harry Marsh c 1933

CCC Camp Harry Marsh

Prichard Civilian Conservation Corps Camp F-30, Co. 967, renamed Harry Marsh CCC Camp, was one of the first camps in the CCC program. It was located in the Coeur d'Alene National Forest on the Coeur d'Alene River north of present day Prichard. Camp Harry Marsh

Civilian Conservation Corps - 1933-1942

The Civilian Conservation Corps enrolled mostly young, unmarried, unskilled and unemployed men between the ages of 18 and 25. The men came primarily from families on government assistance. Men enlisted for a minimum of six months.

Each worker received $30.00 wages per month for his services in addition to room and board at a work camp. The men were required to send $ 25.00 of their monthly earnings home to support their families. Civilian Conservation Corps Wikipedia

Enaville, Idaho

Travelling virtually increases the chances of finding some very unique places. Enaville is a small town just north of the junction of the Coeur d'Alene River Road and I-90. Searching the internet didn't turn up much information specifically on Enaville. What it did produce, however, was a wealth of information from the website for The Snake Pit.

There's not much happening in Enaville today but it wasn't always that way. In the early days, Enaville was a transportation center for railroaders, miners and loggers. It was also a railroad changeover, important for early log drives. Enaville was considered the Gateway to the Upper North Fork. The town was named after the wife of a a railroad crewman. She was also the postmistress at the time. (Thanks to the Snake Pit for this information.)

CCC Camp Enaville c 1935

CCC Camp Enaville,
F-136, Co. 557, Enaville, Idaho

The Enaville post office sorted all the mail for the hundreds of young workers up the upper North Fork working in CCC Camps. Other CCC Camps in the Enaville area were Camp Jordan Creek P-181, Horse Haven Camp F-156, Hudlow Creek Camp F-113, and Grizzly Camp F-136. Digital Initiatives University of Idaho

The Snake Pit - Enaville, Idaho

Never let it be said that a fabulous website doesn't attract customers. The good thing about travelling virtually is that you can stop and eat anywhere you want - any time you want - and we just happened to be starving! The Snake Pit has been part of the Silver Valley's colorful history since 1880. It has served as a boomtown bar, railroad layover, hotel, restaurant and house of ill repute (complete with red lights). The Snake Pit

Sunset Cruise - Lake Coeur d'Alene

Once we were on the I-90, we made up a lot of time. We booked into our hotel and rested a bit before getting ready for the Dinner Cruise. The last time I took this cruise was in the middle of huge forest fires all through Idaho. The air was so thick with smoke that I wasn't able to see much. We could not even see the shore from the boat. This time the weather is perfect. Of course - what else would you expect virtually?

We headed to the dock, parked and boarded without a hitch. On board we had a fabulous dinner. On the menu - carved roast beef, baked fresh northwest salmon, double stuffed au gratin potatoes, summer green salad, vegetables, pasta salad, fruit salad, bread basket and strawberry cheesecake for dessert. Who could ask for more? After dinner we headed to the upper deck to kick back, relax and take in the scenery.

Sherman Street, Idaho c 1908

Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

The city began in 1878 as Fort Sherman on the north shore of Coeur d'Alene Lake. The town grew when gold and silver deposits were found in Silver Valley and after the Northern Pacific Railroad reached it in 1883. Population peaked in the late 1920s after the discovery of highly prized white pine resulted in a timber boom which led to the incorporation of the city on September 4, 1906. Coeur d'Alene Wikipedia

Lake Coeur d'Alene

Lake Coeur d'Alene is a natural dam-controlled lake. The lake spans 25 miles in length and ranges from 1 to 3 miles in width and fed by the Coeur d'Alene and Saint Joe rivers. Although the Post Falls Dam on the Spokane River near Post Falls controls the lake levels, the lake is usually kept at natural levels from January to June. Wikipedia

Coeur d'Alene People c 1907

The Coeur d'Alene People

The lake was named after the Coeur d'Alene people. The Tribe's rights to the lake were established in the first executive order founding its reservation, which originally included all of the lake. In United States v. Idaho (2001), the United States Supreme Court held that an 1873 executive order issued by President Ulysses S. Grant formalized ownership by the tribe. Coeur d'Alene People Wikipedia

Post Note - Day Two: Wow! After only two days travelling virtually, it's becoming apparent that this trip is going to take a very long time - certainly longer that it takes to drive the roads each day. It is amazing when you are travelling virtually how much more information you can find about the roads you travel on and the areas you pass through. Are these sidetracks I keep getting on while surfing the internet just a replacement for the derailing we usually encounter along the way?

Day 3 Coeur d'Alene to McCall, Idaho
Highways today included east on I-90 to State 97 (NW Passage Scenic Byway) on the east side of Coeur d'Alene Lake. At the end of State 97 we turned south on State 3 through Saint Maries and Bovill to the Junction with US 12 where we turned east. We followed US 12 through Orofino to Kooskia. At Kooskia we turned south again on State 13 to Grangeville, then US 95 to New Meadows and State 55 to McCall. Google Map

Highway 97 - Lake Coeur d'Alene Scenic Byway

State Highway 97 runs for 35.7 miles along the east side of Lake Coeur d'Alene. The entire highway is designated as the Lake Coeur d'Alene Scenic Byway. Part of the highway travels through the Coeur d'Alene Reservation.

Downtown Bovill c 1907

Bovill, Idaho - State Highway 3

Bovill was named for a settler Hugh Bovill, an Englishman who bought the Warren Meadows homestead in 1901. With the rapid infusion of loggers, homesteaders, and sportsmen, Bovill and his wife Charlotte opened a hotel in 1903, which included a store and post office in 1907. The railroad arrived that same year and logging activity increased nearby.

Juliaetta c 1900-1910

Juliaetta, Idaho - State Highway 3

Juliaetta, population 601, was named in 1882 by the first postmaster, Charles Snyder. He named the town in honor of his two daughters, Julia and Etta. The city was incorporated in 1892 when the railroad was extended to that point. The Bank of Juliaetta was registered on the National Register of Historic Places on January 15, 1998 as #97001649.

Highway 12 Idaho - Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

Us Route 12 twists and turns along side the Clearwater River. It extends 174 miles from the Washington state line in Lewiston east to the Montana state line at Lolo Pass, generally along the route of the Lewis and Clark expedition. In October 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition descended the Clearwater River in dugout canoes, putting in at "Canoe Camp," five miles downstream from Orofino.

Slaterville (2018)

Slaterville Rest Stop

We stopped at a rest stop at the site of Slaterville Ghost Town. Slaterville served as the steamboat port for the Clearwater Gold Rush which followed mineral discoveries at Pierce in 1860. Founded May 6, 1861, Slaterville had a permanent population of 50, two stores, two houses, and a saloon. Slaterville was soon replaced by a new port in Lewiston.

Nez Perce National Historic Park

The Nez Perce National Historic Park is comprised of 38 sites spread over four states. The sites are linked by the history of the Nez Perce people. Twenty-six of the sites are on or near the Nez Perce Indian Reservation in Idaho. The Nez Perce National Historic Trail, managed by the United States Forest Service, preserves the route taken by Chief Joseph and his band when they tried to reach Canada in 1877.

Nez Perce National Historic Trail

Routes and highways in this area are scattered with historical markers. This is the area of the Nez Perce Battlefields and the Nez Perce Trail in Idaho. The Nez Perce Historic Trail follows the route taken by a large group of the Nez Perce tribe in 1877 to avoid being forced onto a reservation. The 1,170-mile trail was created in 1986 as part of the National Trails System Act and is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Idaho Historical Marker Guide

The trail traverses through portions of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana and connects 38 separate sites that commemorate significant events of the Nez Perce War that took place between June and October 1877, as several bands of the Nez Perce tried to escape capture by the U.S. Calvary. The sites are part of the Nez Perce National Historical Park. Nez Perce National Historic Trail Wikipedia

Nez Perce - Heart of the Monster - Highway 12

Heart of the Monster is located on the Clearwater River near Kamiah. In the Nez Perce creation story, Iceye’ye (Coyote) killed a large monster along the Clearwater River near present day Kamiah, Idaho, thus creating different tribes in the region, including the Nez Perce. A rock formation in the area is said to represent the heart of the monster. It is sacred to the Nez Perce people. National Park Service

Heart of the Monster (2018)

State Route 13 - Kooskia to Grangeville (NW Passage Scenic Byway)

We left US 12 at Kooskia and turned south on State 13. Highway 13 is a continuation of the North West Passage Scenic Byway where it splits at Kooskia. It's 26 miles passes in the valley through beautiful rolling hills and a climb over the mountain to Grangeville.

Nez Perce War-Milepost 21.2 - Highway 13

Nez Perce War - Clearwater Battlefield

In the weeks following the Battle at White Bird, General Oliver O. Howard pursued the Nez Perce across the Reservation. The General caught up with the after crossing the Salmon and the Clearwater Rivers. On July 11, 1877, General Howard tried to take the Nez Perce camp by surprise. The Nez Perce, however, foiled his plan and the first day's fighting came to a draw.

   
On July 12, Howard used infantry, cavalry, and artillery to gain the upper hand. In the face of this force, the Nez Perce began to slowly withdraw towards Kamiah. While Howard captured their camp and a great deal of supplies, he did not pursue the Nez Perce. They went north to Kamiah and began to head east, over the Lolo Trail to western Montana. National Park Service

The Nez Perce War

The Nez Perce War was an armed conflict that pitted several bands of the Nez Perce tribe and their allies, including Chief White Bird, Chief Toohoolhoolzote, Chief Looking Glass, Chief Red Echo and Chief Bald Head against the United States Army. The conflict, fought between June and October 1877, stemmed from the refusal of several bands of the Nez Perce, dubbed "non-treaty Indians," to give up their ancestral lands in the Pacific Northwest and move to an Indian reservation in Idaho.

This forced removal was in violation of the 1855 Treaty of Walla Walla, which granted the tribe 7.5 million acres in their ancestral lands and the right to hunt and fish in lands ceded to the government. The New York Times wrote in 1877 "On our part, the war was in its origin and motive nothing short of a gigantic blunder and a crime".

Nez Perce Surrender

The Nez Perce were pursued by elements of the U.S. Army with whom they fought a series of battles and skirmishes on a fighting retreat of 1,170 miles. The war ended after a final five-day battle fought alongside Snake Creek at the base of Montana's Bears Paw Mountains only 40 miles from the Canada–US border. A large majority of the surviving Nez Perce represented by Chief Joseph surrendered. The 418 Nez Perce who surrendered, including women and children, were taken prisoner and sent by train to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

White Bird, of the Lamátta band of Nez Perce, managed to elude the Army after the battle and escaped with an undetermined number of his band to Sitting Bull's camp in Canada.

Chief Joseph - I am Tired of Fighting

On October 5, 1877, his speech, as he surrendered to General Howard, immortalized Chief Joseph in American history forever. Biography - Chief Joseph

"I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Toohoolhoolzote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say, 'Yes' or 'No.' He who led the young men [Olikut] is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are — perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever."

Chief Joseph (Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt)
(March 3, 1840 – September 21, 1904)

US Highway 95 - Grangeville to New Meadows

U.S. Route 95 is another north–south continual U.S./Canada highway spanning 1,574 miles from San Luis, Arizona on the Mexico–US border, over the US-Canada Border at Eastport, Idaho, to its' northern terminus at Golden, British Columbia.

New Meadows, Idaho

New Meadows, population 537, was founded in 1911. It is located at the junction of US 95 and State Highway 55. The last surviving Pacific and Idaho Northern (PIN) Railroad Depot built in 1910 is in New Meadows. Without the Pacific and Idaho Northern Railroad, New Meadows would arguably not have existed. The Depot was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 19, 1978 as #78001042.

PIN Railroad Depot - New Meadows

Highway 55 Idaho - Payette River National Scenic Byway

Following the narrow Payette River Valley, Idaho's Route 55 extends 112 miles between New Meadows and Eagle. It passes through the Boise National Forest and Payette National Forest and the popular resort towns of McCall and Cascade.

McCall, Idaho

McCall, established in 1899, is a resort town situated on the southern shore of Payette Lake, near the center of the Payette National Forest. Originally a logging community, the last sawmill closed in 1977. McCall is now an all-season tourist destination for outdoor recreation. The resort town is known for its Winter Carnival, extended winters, and one of the highest average snowfalls in the state.

McCall Main Street c 1927

Wow, what a day! The Google Map says we only travelled 315 miles but with all the stops, historical markers and exhibits along the way, it feels a lot more than that. We are totally exhausted and looking forward to relaxing in a hot tub.

We booked into the Best Western Plus McCall Inn and Suites. I've stayed at this hotel twice before. It is without a doubt one of the nicest hotels in the Country.

After dinner, we toured around town, got some coffee to go, and went to the public beach to watch the sunset. We were off to bed early. Tomorrow would be another long day - all about sightseeing - all those ghost towns - and probably slow driving.

Post Note - Day Three: If I don't stop researching the history of every little town on the map, we are never going to get through this virtual trip. I have to learn to drive the speed limit and quit stopping so much. It's starting to feel ridiculous!

Day 4 - McCall to Jackpot, Nevada
Highways today were south on State 55 (Payette River Scenic Byway), east on County Road 17 (Banks/Lowman Road) to Lowman, a little side step south to Idaho City and back, then continuing north on State Highway 21 (Ponderosa Pine Scenic Route) to Stanley and south on State Highway 75 (Sawtooth Scenic Byway) to Shoshone and US 93 to Jackpot. Google Map

Granny's Attic - McCall, Idaho

We stopped at this charming quilt shop before leaving town. This is not a big shop but it certainly has a big story. They host quilting tours all over the world. The owner designs and publishes her own quilt patterns. She has lost track of how many but her husband says it's over 90 patterns. The decor includes dozens of traditional Star Blocks - some with the most unique variations we've ever seen. Granny's Attic

Payette National Forest

We continued south on State Highway 55 (Payette River National Scenic Byway) in the Payette National Forest. In 1944 the Weiser National Forest and the Idaho National Forest were combined to create the Payette National Forest. The land area consists of approximately 2.3 million acres. The Payette National Forest is named for François Payette, a French-Canadian fur trapper and later the manager of Fort Boise for the Hudson's Bay Company from 1835-1844.

Boise National Forest

Boise National Forest was created on July 1, 1908 from portions of the Payette National Forest and Sawtooth National Forest. Trappers and fur traders arrived in the area in the early 1800s. By 1840, the fur trade was coming to an end, but the westward migration on the Oregon Trail, which passed south of the forest, was beginning. The first settlers moved into the mountains in the 1860s after gold was discovered. Three of Idaho's scenic byways - Payette River Scenic Byway, Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway and the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway are all within the Boise National Forest.

Civilian Conservation Corps in Boise National Forest

Nine camps and eight sub-camps of the Civilian Conservation Corps were set up in Boise National Forest. The CCC constructed many structures throughout the forest from 1933 until 1942, including fire suppression, fish habitat improvement, and construction of guard houses, fire lookouts, campgrounds, roads, and trails.

Guard Station c 1933

Lake Cascade

Lake Cascade (formerly Cascade Reservoir), is on the North Fork of the Payette River. Located in the Boise National Forest, it has a surface area of 47 square miles and is the fourth largest lake or reservoir in the state. Following a delay due to World War II, the earthen dam built by the Bureau of Reclamation was completed in 1948. The term "Lake Cascade" came into common use in the 1990s, with the federal name change made in 1999.

Smiths Ferry, Idaho

Smiths Ferry, population 75, is situated where the North Fork of the Payette River briefly calms and widens.

A ferry at the river was established in 1887 to transport livestock to summer pasture in the Round and Long Valleys across the river. The ferry was sold to Jim Smith in 1891. Smith's Ferry became a vital crossing when the first bridge was completed in 1919.

Cougar Mountain Lodge - Smiths Ferry

County Road 17 - Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway

This 33 mile scenic byway follows the old miner's supply route from Banks to Lowman alongside the churning waters of the South Fork of the Payette River. It goes through a canyon cut deep into the heart of the Idaho mountains.

Stitch n' Snip - Crouch Idaho

This tiny community, population 162, has numerous businesses for tourists and residents including a wonderful quilt shop full of ideas to tempt you. Stitch n' Snip is where I signed up for the BOM - Vintage Trucks Thru The Year by Buttermilk Basin. Stitch n' Snip

Lowman, Idaho

Lowman, established in 1907, got all its supplies once a year from a large freight wagon over a state road built in 1894 to provide access to North Idaho. The highway followed in 1939. Eventually a one-room schoolhouse was moved here from Garden Valley. It still serves Lowman. Historical Marker Database

State Highway 21 - Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway

At Lowman we turned north onto The Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. The route, also dubbed as "the Highway to Heaven" climbs to the Banner Creek Summit (7056 feet) and enters the Challis National Forest before it begins the descent into Stanley and the junction with State Highway 75.

Challis National Forest

The Salmon–Challis National Forest at 4,235,940 acres is one of the largest national forests in the lower 48 states. Also the land area of the Frank Church–River of No Return Wilderness is the largest wilderness area south of Alaska.

Borah Peak, (elevation 12,662), the tallest mountain in Idaho, is also found here. The Wild and Scenic Salmon River weaves through the rugged terrain of the Sawtooth Mountains while it flows for over 75 miles through the forest.

Highway 75 - Sawtooth Scenic Byway

State Highway 75 travels through the Sawtooth Valley. It provides access to Sawtooth National Recreation Area. The highway primarily follows the main Salmon River in the north and the Big Wood River in the south, divided by Galena Summit.

Galena Summit - Highway 75

Galena Summit is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 8,701 feet. The pass is located in the Boulder Mountains within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area of the Sawtooth National Forest. The summit is the highest highway summit in the Northwest. Galena Overlook offers views of the Sawtooth range and the headwaters of the Salmon River in the Stanley Basin.

Galena Summit c 1940

Sawtooth National Forest - Highway 75

The Sawtooth Forest Reserve was established in a proclamation issued by President Theodore Roosevelt on May 29, 1905. The Sawtooth National Forest covers 2,110,408 acres. On August 22, 1972 a portion of the forest was designated as the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

The Sawtooth Mountains, primarily within the Sawtooth National Forest, reach a maximum elevation of 10,751 feet at the summit of Thompson Peak. The mountains were named for their jagged peaks. There are 57 peaks with an elevation over 10,000 feet. Another 77 peaks fall between 9,000 and 10,000 feet.

Ghost Towns, Mines and Explorers

A series of historical markers dot the highway between mile marker 167 (Sawtooth City) and mile marker 112 (Wood River Mines). The entire area is rich in mining history, railroads, explorers, settlements and stories of prosperity, murder and doom. Many of the areas are not accessible but we stopped and read the markers. Idaho Historical Marker Guide

Sawtooth City

Ketchum, Idaho

Originally the smelting center of the Warm Springs mining district, the town was first named Leadville in 1880. The postal department decided that was too common and renamed it Ketchum after a local trapper and guide who had staked a claim in the basin a year earlier.

Sun Valley, Idaho

Sun Valley is a resort town adjacent to the city of Ketchum. The first destination winter resort in the U.S., it was developed by W. Averell Harriman, the chairman of the Union Pacific Railroad. The success of the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, spurred an increase in participation in winter sports (and alpine skiing in particular). During World War II, the resort was closed and converted to a convalescent hospital for the U.S. Navy. It re-opened to the public in December 1946.

Bellevue, Idaho

Bellevue was settled and chartered in 1882. Bellevue grew as a mining town. Between 1881 and the 1893 silver market crash, the mines near Bellevue produced more than $60 million worth of silver, lead and gold.

Bellevue has a bit of an "explosive" history. A devastating fire engulfed the city's business district in 1905, started when the Seymour Saloon's bartender lit a match to investigate a gasoline leak. In 1957, windows in Bellevue were shattered and the city was rocked when 8 tons of dynamite and 56 rounds of artillery shells accidentally detonated at a mine west of the city.

Timmerman Junction Oregon Trail Rest Stop

This rest stop, at the junction of Highway 75 and US 20, has a historical marker kiosk. Five panels in the kiosk, erected by the Idaho Department of Transportation, walk you through the Oregon Trail history in Idaho. The panels, titled Idaho's Emigrant Trails, Emigrant Travel, Craters of the Moon, Fur Hunters, and Goodale's Cutoff give an extensive documentary and pictorial history of this area's portion of the Oregon Trail. Historical Marker Database

Shoshone Ice Caves - Not even a chance!

No! Not even virtually. I'm not going in an underground cave. Can't do it. I'm quite happy to sit above land reading my book while Karen does the tour.

About 15 miles north of Shoshone are the Shoshone Ice Caves. The caves are hollow underground lava tubes that stay cool enough for the ice inside them to remain frozen throughout the summer. In the days before refrigeration, this feature made Shoshone popular with travelers as "the only place for hundreds of miles where one could get a cold beer."

US Highway 93 - Shoshone to Jackpot

We left Highway 75 at Shoshone and headed south on US Highway 93. Ironically, this is another part of the same Montana highway between Kalispell and Elmo we drove on day two. This stretch though, almost the entire way to Jackpot, is straight over flat desert. Not much to see except for a few small towns with gas stations along the way. The good news is we are used to it and just bear down and make up some time - although I'm not sure why as it really doesn't matter what time we get there.

Jackpot, Nevada

In May 1958, the settlement was first recognized by the Elko County commissioners as an unincorporated town named "Horse Shu" despite a protest over the name by Cactus Pete's. Because the club owners could not agree on a name, the county commissioners renamed it a month later as "Unincorporated Town No. 1." The clubs compromised on the name "Jackpot" in 1959.

Cactus Pete's - Jackpot, Nevada

After Idaho outlawed all forms of casino gaming in 1954, "Cactus Pete" Piersanti moved his slot machine operations from Idaho to the new townsite just inside the Nevada border. We are staying at Cactus Pete's - as we have for the last 20 years. This wonderful hotel keeps remodelling and renovating and feels just like a new hotel. Cactus Pete's

By the time our day was over we had travelled on four Scenic Byways, passed through four National Forests, hit an elevation of over 8700 feet, endured miles and miles of desert, shopped at two quilt stores, and had lunch at the Ram restaurant in Sun Valley where I probably had something "beef" and Karen probably ordered "chicken quesadilla with green onions, tomatoes, and lots of cheese. .

We also backtracked 114 miles or so to take a different route in order to avoid driving on I-84. Well, you know, you can do that when you travel virtually! If you don't like where you're heading - delete it!

We booked into our room and headed to the buffet were we ate way too much (as usual) then browsed through the gift shop. Before calling it a night, we spent our $20.00 in the slot machines. Once again, we're exhausted.

Post Note - Day Four: My resolution to keep this show moving didn't work out so well. Once I hit all the historical mining ghost towns and spectacular views over the mountain scenic drives, I got derailed again. (Also, Karen is probably stopping to take at least a thousand pictures, so I wont take all the blame.) I changed routes mid-stream. Highway 21 was my undoing. I wanted to drive it but also wanted to avoid travel on I-84 so I (virtually) deleted everything from Lowman to Idaho City, turned around and drove the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway to Stanley instead. I'm still not sure if I'm happy with the route but we are in Jackpot now - so too late.

Day 5 - Jackpot to Ely, Nevada
Only one highway today - US 93 (Great Basin Highway) through Wells, State Hwy 486 (Success Loop Scenic Drive) to US 50, and west Ely. We want to stop in Ely and do the train ride so today was short on miles and high on tourism. Google Map

Wells, Nevada

Wells (originally Humboldt Wells), population 1,292, began as a stop along the California Trail. With the arrival of the railroad, Wells became a stopover for passenger trains. By 1873, the community had grown to a population of around three hundred. Unlike many mining towns in the area, Wells was never a boom town nor did it die a quick death.

Wells Nevada c 1950

Trail of the 49ers Interpretive Center - Wells, Nevada

We took in a tour at the The Trail of the 49ers Interpretive Center. It tells the story of the California Trail as it passes through Elko County. The Trail Center also houses the Wells Chamber of Commerce and it Visitors Center. We browsed through the gift shop before heading out again.

Currie, Nevada

Currie was established in 1885. With a population of 20, it is now considered a ghost town. The major portion of the town is privately owned.

Discovery of copper in the neighboring town of Ely prompted the building of a railroad from Ely to Cobre. Currie is midpoint between the two towns. On March 22, 1906, the first passenger train ran from Cobre to Currie.

Currie Hotel c 1910

Stage Stop - Lages Station - Hwy 93 Nevada

Lages Station is a ghost town in White Pine County. As of 2007, the town's only remaining inhabitants were a single family, running the town's only operating business - a pool hall, liquor outlet, grocery and diner all wrapped up in the gas station.

Schellbourne, Nevada (Rest Stop) Hwy 93 Nevada

Schellbourne was once a Shoshone Indian village. It became an Overland Stage and Mail stop in 1859, and a Pony Express station in 1860. The Overland Telegraph came through in 1861. In the 1870s, Schellbourne became a mining town, with about 500 inhabitants. The Schellbourne post office was in operation from December 1871 until October 1925. Fort Schellbourne site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on February 23, 1972 as #72000768.

Schell Creek Pony Express Swing Station #128

A rider did not carry the mail for more than 75 miles. Swing stations were established along the way. At the swing station, a rider dismounted and quickly mounted a fresh horse. The exchanges were quick - never lasting more than two minutes - just long enough for the rider to take a quick drink and swing the mochila over the saddle of his new horse. Historical Marker Data Base

Pony Express (2010)

Success Loop Scenic Drive - State Hwy 486 Nevada

Well it was bound to happen. Only Karen could find a road to twist, turn and bump over in the middle of a desert - and it doesn't matter whether it's paved or not. The Success Loop has some paved, some gravel, and some dirt - just her kind of road.

Five miles north of McGill came the words "turn left here - right here - now". Success Loop Scenic Drive runs through the spectacularly scenic Schell Creek Range with views of the Steptoe Valley. It winds its way through the remarkable high desert landscapes of the Great Basin, between groves of aspen trees, and over the Success Summit at an elevation of 9,363 feet.

The road then descends rather steeply for a few miles down from the pass, before leveling out as it follows Steptoe Creek. It converts back to a paved road as it passes by Cave Lake State Park. The reservoir at Cave Lake was originally built to serve the Civilian Conservation Corps, who were working in the area during the 1930s.

Researching information about the road I found warnings like "stay away if you don't like heights", "wet conditions make tough driving along the muddy road", "avoid if unpaved mountain roads are not your bag" and "travel by the Dirt Road Code". Did we balk at the idea of heading into the unknown? Not at all. One website said "make sure to get a BLM Map". Well, of course, we just happen to have one. Virtually, anything is possible.

Ely, Nevada

Ely, population 4,000, was founded as a stagecoach station along the Pony Express and Central Overland Route. In 1906 copper was discovered and Ely became a mining town - suffering the same boom to bust cycles of most mining towns. Following the copper market crash in the mid 1970s, Kennecott shut down and copper mining disappeared. Due to the recent increase in demand for copper, Ely is once again a copper boom town.

Ely Business District c 1880

Hotel Nevada

Ely is one of our favourite places to stop. For years we have taken a short break to eat at the historic Hotel Nevada and today is no different. But, after all these years of visiting Ely, we are finally going to do those "we should do that some day" tourist attractions. But not before we hit the Hotel Nevada to eat.

The historic six-story Hotel Nevada in downtown Ely opened in July 7, 1929 during the Prohibition Era. It was the tallest building in Nevada until 1931 when a hotel in Reno overtook it. However, it is still the tallest building in Ely. Hotel Nevada was also the state's first fire-proof building. Live gambling was added in 1931 when the State legalized it. Hotel Nevada is still a popular lodging, dining, gaming, and tourist stop.

Nevada Northern Railway Museum

The first stop on our "Ely tourist tour" was the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. The railway arrived in 1906 establishing connections to the mines. The Nevada Northern Railway Museum is operated by a historic foundation dedicated to the preservation of the Nevada Northern Railway.

The Nevada Northern Railway East Ely Yards and Shops was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on July 29, 1993 as #93000693. The East Ely Depot was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on April 12, 1984 as #84002082.

Wild West Limited Train Ride

Now for the main event on our "Ely Tourist Tour". We booked ourselves on the Wild West tour - a trip back in time aboard a working century-old steam train. Advertising that there will be cowboys, horses, outlaws, and inlaws, we figured this was just what we needed for the next couple of hours. The promise of horse-thieving robbers holding up the trains give us a glimpse into all the exciting things we will experience "virtually". Nevada Northern Railway Train Rides

Locomotives 40 and 93 at East Ely Depot

Post Note - Day Five: My original plan was to finish the whole virtual trip before letting Karen know what I've been doing. Now, reaching Ely, I decided it was time to involve her. I'm having so much fun with it, I just had to share. I sent Karen an email inviting her to join me.

"You might want to travel along with me on our imaginary trip. We are on day 5 and just went over the Success Summit and have taken a train ride from Ely, complete with cowboys robbing the train. I'm having a ball. Most of the virtual trip is about history. So I don't steal anyone's photos, I'm digging around the historical photos. Man there is a lot of history along the way. No doubt this virtual trip is the longest and most extensive trip we've been on."

Needless to say that piqued her curiosity. She hopped on board, assumed her role as "navigational director", and promptly found some interesting forestry roads she wants to see. So the decision was made to spend two nights in Torrey and check out those roads - but only if we can stay at the Chuckwagon Motel - in a cabin. Well, of course. It didn't take her long to get into "virtual trip mode".


Day 6 - Ely to Beaver, Utah
Highways today were east on US 50, into the Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park on White Pine County Roads 16 & 45 and back to US 50, south on State 487, into Great Basin National Park on State 488 and back to NV State 487/UT State 21 to Beaver. Google Map

The Grand Circle

Just east of Ely, we officially entered the Grand Circle and we will remain there until we pass out of it north of Provo, Utah on our way home. The Grand Circle encompasses five states, ten National Parks, and numerous National Monuments, State Parks, and Recreation Areas. Grand Circle Book

Scenic Byways, All-American Roads and dusty mountain backroads criss-cross the five states like wiggly worms connecting the forests, lakes, mountains, canyons. deserts. and archaeological sites that make up the Grand Circle. At the heart of the Grand Circle is the Four Corners area and the Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway. Grand Circle Map.

US Highway 50, Nevada

US 50 crosses the central portion of Nevada, entering the west side of the state near Lake Tahoe and exiting the east side near Great Basin National Park. The route generally follows the historic corridor initially used for the Pony Express and Central Overland Route.

US 50 has a diverse route through the state, traversing the resort community of Lake Tahoe, the state capital in Carson City, State Historic Parks, petroglyphs, alpine forests, desert valleys, ghost towns, and Great Basin National Park. Connors Pass at 7,729 feet west of Majors Place in the Schell Creek Range is the highest point along US 50 in Nevada.

Loneliest Road in America

US 50 in Nevada was named "The Loneliest Road in America" by Life magazine in July 1986. The highway crosses several large desert valleys separated by seventeen mountain passes towering over the valley floors. Cresting some of the passes requires navigating steep 8% grades and hairpin turns through pine forests that reach elevations of over 7,000 feet.

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park

The final stop on our "Ely Tourist Tour" is Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park. Silver ore was discovered here in 1872. The Ward Mining District, located two miles north of the park, was then developed. In April 1875, the Martin & White Company from San Francisco invested money to extract silver ore, bought up several small claims, and built the smelting ovens for melting ores. The Ward Charcoal Ovens operated during the silver boom years of the Ward mines.

The State Park features six beehive shaped charcoal ovens that were used from 1876 through 1879 to process rich silver ore that was discovered in the area. Once mining ended, the ovens were used to shelter travelers and even had a reputation as a hideout for stagecoach bandits. The Ward Charcoal Ovens were added to the National Register of Historical Places on September 28, 1971 as #71000491.
Ward Charcoal Ovens c 1960

Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Great Basin National Park, established October 27, 1986, derives its name from the Great Basin, the dry and mountainous region between the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Mountains. The park protects 80,000 acres of the basin and range landscape. The Park is notable for its groves of ancient Bristlecone Pines that are nearly 5,000 years old and the Lehman Caves at the base of Wheeler Peak.

Wheeler Peak

Wheeler Peak with an elevation of 13,065 feet is the tallest mountain in the Snake Range and the second highest peak in Nevada, just behind Boundary Peak. The top of the mountain is covered by deep snow most of the year. The mountain is located in Great Basin National Park and was named for George Wheeler, leader of the Wheeler Survey of the late 19th century.

Wheeler Peak

Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive

The mountain-hugging Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is 12 miles of paved, steep road as it winds up to elevations of 10,000 feet. The average grade is 8%. The Scenic Drive beyond Upper Lehman Creek Campground is closed to vehicles longer than 24 feet. The upper nine miles of the road are closed in the winter.

The Scenic Drive goes past a pinyon-juniper forest in lower elevations. The air cools as much as 20-30 degrees during the climb. There are breathtaking overlooks of the Snake Range mountains. The Mather Overlook, is at an elevation of 9,000 feet and the Wheeler Overlook is the best place to see Wheeler Peak. Great Basin National Park Driving Map

Bristlecone Pines

Great Basin Bristlecone Pines are the oldest non-clonal species on the planet. These strange trees, shaped by wind, snow, and rains that twist them into almost human-like forms, have survived over thousands of years, overseeing the rise and fall of great empires, growing through ice-ages and catastrophic volcanic eruptions. Bristlecone pines in Great Basin National Park grow in isolated groves just below the tree-line.

Bristlecone Pine

Lehman Caves

Karen opted for the Lodge Room Tour that travels 0.4 miles and highlights the Gothic Palace, Music Room, and Lodge Room sections of Lehman Caves. I opted for the documentary film playing in the Lehman Visitor's Center.

Lehman Caves was established in 1922 as a national monument and was incorporated into Great Basin National Park when the park was established in 1986.

Lehman Caves is a large cavern at the base of the eastern slope of Wheeler Peak. It is made of light gray and white limestone that is honeycombed by tunnels and galleries containing a spectacular array of stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, flowstone, popcorn, and other cave deposits.

Rhodes Cabin

Next to the Lehman Caves Visitor Center sits the historic Rhodes Cabin. The cabin was built in the 1928 by Clarence and Bea Rhodes, who were Forest Service custodians of Lehman Caves at the time. It is one of several built to provide accommodations for visitors to Lehman Caves. Today it contains interpretive exhibits. Rhodes Cabin was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on February 25, 2975 as #75000180.

Clarence & Bea Rhodes Cabin

Garrison - Highway 21 Utah, Utah

Garrison was first founded as a cattle rustling and outlaw community in the 1850s. It later became the center of mining interests. Garrison is in Millard County, Utah just east of the Nevada state line. In fact, some of the town's structures are legally in Nevada. Garrison is currently home to a Utah Department of Transportation yard and office, but other than that, offers no services.

Frisco Ghost Town - Highway 21 Utah

A typical mining town at the foot of the San Francisco Mountain was fed by the fabulously rich Horn Silver Mine. By 1885 over $60,000,000 in zinc, copper, lead, silver, and gold were hauled away by mule train and the Utah Central Railroad. Water was shipped in as well as all supplies. Then the mine caved and people moved away, leaving only a few families of the 4,000 population to maintain their homes, stores, school and church. By the 1920's only memories and the shifting sands were left. Horn Silver Camp Silver Desert Camp Beaver County, Utah. Historical Marker Database

Frisco Charcoal Ovens

Charcoal-fueled smelting had been used in Utah since at least 1872. Overall, there were 36 beehive-shaped smelting kilns operating in the district. Five granite beehive-shaped charcoal smelting kilns, used between 1877 and 1880, have survived in Frisco. The kilns vary in size from 16 to 32 feet in diameter. The Frisco kilns were added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 9, 1982 as #82004793.

Frisco Charcoal Ovens (2008)

Milford - Highway 21 Utah

Milford, population 1,394, is in Beaver County, Utah. Although settlers had established ranches in the area in the 1870s, Milford was not developed until after the construction of the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad in 1880, when a station was established there. The train depot at Milford was used by the Union Pacific Railroad until it was demolished in 1979.

Milford Train Depot c 1936-1937

Minersville - Highway 21 Utah

Minersville, population 907, was settled in 1859 at the direction of Brigham Young so a lead mine could be operated on the site where Jesse N. Smith and three others had found lead the previous year. Minersville had 446 residents in 1870. Smith helped colonize different Mormon settlements, including Parowan in 1851 and Snowflake, Arizona in 1884. The Minersville City Hall was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on as #85000795.

Beaver, Utah

Beaver, population 3,112, is the county seat of Beaver County.

In 1847-1848, the Mormons developed a trade route from their new settlement at Salt Lake City through the Beaver River valley. The original route crossed the river three miles downstream from Beaver. In 1855, as part of improvements, the Mormon Road over the Black Mountains was realigned eastward. It was routed through a more wagon-friendly terrain.

Beaver was settled in 1856 by Mormon pioneers traveling this road. Beaver was one of a string of Mormon settlements along the road through Utah. By design, these settlements were located a day's ride on horseback apart, which explains the regularity of their spacing of approximately 30 miles apart. Beaver was developed between the settlements in the Pahvant Valley and the Parowan Valley.

Best Western Butch Cassidy Inn - Beaver, Utah

It was late afternoon by the time we reached Beaver. We booked into our favourite hotel - the Best Western Butch Cassidy Inn. This is just so appropriate as Butch Cassidy (Robert LeRoy Parker - April 13, 1866 - November 7, 1908) was born in Beaver and went on to became a notorious outlaw in the American West.

Post Note - Day Six: We planned to go to Torrey today - only 412 miles so it would be easy peasy. After spending so much time touring the Ward Ovens, Great Basin National Park, and Frisco Ghost Town, it was evident that it would be very late in the day when we were on the Canyon Scenic Byway (Highway 153) and dark by the time we reached Torrey. Even virtually, this seemed rather undesirable. It would be more realistic to hit the pass over the Tushar Mountains in the morning and arrive in Torrey in the afternoon. We can still do Karen's Forest Road Loop on the way to Torrey.

It sure takes up time doing everything. I guess that's why we have passed by some of the interesting things along the way over the years. This is a good time to play catch up.


Day 7 - Beaver to Torrey, Utah
Highways today were east on State Hwy 153 (Beaver Canyon Scenic Byway), Forest Road 137 (Kent Lake Road) and back on Hwy 153 over to Junction. From Junction a short stretch south on US 89 to Circleville and back to State Hwy 62 east to Koosharem, then east on Brown's Lane across to State Hwy 24, north on State Highway 25/Forest Road 640/Forest Road 36, north on State Hwy 72 to Forest Road 206 and turn around, south on State Hwy 72, and south on State Hwy 24 Torrey. Google Map

Beaver Canyon Scenic Byway - Hwy 153, Utah

The portion of State Highway 153 from Beaver to Elk Meadows has been designated the Beaver Canyon Scenic Byway as part of the Utah Scenic Byways and was designated a National Forest Scenic Byway on February 6, 1991. Just east of Beaver the highway enters Beaver Canyon alongside Beaver River and enters Fishlake National Forest. The Tushar Mountains are home to the largest mule deer herd in the United States.

Highway 153 (2010)

Forest Service Route 137 - Kent Lake Scenic Loop

About 10 miles from Beaver, just past the Ponderosa Picnic site, we decided to take the 12 mile Kent Lake Scenic Loop (Forest Service Route 137). It wasn't long before we hit gravel and the road narrowed to one lane. It continued to twist and climb passing several campgrounds and beautiful lakes. This road reaches an elevation of 10,082 feet. It is closed in the winter.

We met up again with Hwy 153 to continue east. As it descends from the mountains, it follows City Creek down the canyon, traversing a series of switchbacks and finally ends at Junction in the Sevier River Valley.

Junction, Utah

Junction, population 191, is the county seat of Piute County, Utah. The name Piute was taken from the Piute Indian Tribe. Junction was originally settled in 1880 as City Creek. The Piute County Courthouse, built in 1903, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on April 16, 1971 as #71000844.

Circleville, Utah

Circleville. has a small population of 489 but, wow - does it have a huge history. It was originally settled in 1864 by a group of Mormon pioneers from Ephraim. The town was named for the shape of the valley. Circle Valley is completely surrounded by mountains except where the Sevier River flows through it.

On June 28, 1866, the town was abandoned by the original settlers due to the Black Hawk War. A few settlers began to trickle back into the area in 1873 and the town was re-established in 1874 when Charles Wakeman Dalton crossed the mountain from Beaver with two of his wives and family.

Circleville Massacre - April 1866

In April 1866, the settlement was the site of the Circleville Massacre, a horrific incident of Utah's Black Hawk War.

Black Hawk and his band had killed many while trying to defend their rights to their land. A determined camp of Paiutes remained in Circle Valley trying to be friendly with the Mormons. However, the Mormons, who had been previously attacked in November 1865, and were unable to defend themselves, felt that they were in danger every moment. They were told to protect themselves against the Indians who were camped in the valley.

As a result a posse was formed and, after some resistance resulting in the death of one young Indian warrior, the Palutes were taken by gunpoint to Circleville and held under guard.

Chief Antonga Black Hawk 1830-1870

Guards shot and killed two Indians who were attempting to escape. In a subsequent town meeting, the decision was made to kill the imprisoned Indians. Twenty four people, including men, women, and children were struck on the back of the head to stun them and then their throats were slit. Circleville Massacre Wikipedia

We stopped at the park right on the highway to read the memorial. On April 22, 2016, a monument was dedicated in the town park to remember the Southern Paiute people slain during the massacre. Historical Marker Database

The Black Hawk War - Utah

The Black Hawk War is the name of the estimated 150 battles, skirmishes, raids, and military engagements taking place from 1865 to 1872, primarily between Mormon settlers in Sanpete County, Sevier County and other parts of central and southern Utah and members of 16 Ute, Southern Paiute, Apache and Navajo tribes.

Led by a local Ute war chief, Antonga Black Hawk, the conflict resulted in the abandonment of some settlements and hindered Mormon expansion in the region.

The years 1865 to 1867 were by far the most intense, though intermittent conflict occurred until federal troops intervened in 1872. Black Hawk War - Wikipedia

Butch Cassidy - Robert LeRoy Parker
(April 13, 1866 – November 7, 1908)

Butch Cassidy was an American train and bank robber and the leader of a gang of criminal outlaws known as the "Wild Bunch" in the Old West. Cassidy was born in Beaver, Utah Territory, the first of 13 children of Morman Pioneers Maximillian Parker and Ann Gillies. Robert Parker grew up on his parents' ranch near Circleville.

Parker Cabin - Circleville

While a teenager, Parker fell under the influence of an old rustler named Mike Cassidy. He soon left home to ride the outlaw trail. Parker worked on several ranches, in addition to a brief apprenticeship with a butcher in Rock Springs, Wyoming, where he got his nickname (by the word "butcher", which morphed later into "Butch"), to which he soon added the last name Cassidy in honor of his old friend and mentor.

Parker engaged in criminal activity for more than a decade at the end of the 19th century, but the pressures of being pursued by law enforcement, notably the Pinkerton detective agency, forced him to flee the country. He fled with his accomplice Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, known as the "Sundance Kid", and Longabaugh's girlfriend Etta Place. The trio traveled first to Argentina and then to Bolivia, where Parker and Longabaugh are believed to have been killed in a shootout with the Bolivian Army in November 1908. The exact circumstances of their fate continues to be disputed. Butch Cassidy - Wikipedia

The Wild Bunch

Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch gang performed the longest string of successful train and bank robberies in American history. This image is known as the "Fort Worth Five Photograph." Front row left to right: Harry A. Longabaugh, alias the Sundance Kid, Ben Kilpatrick, alias the Tall Texan, Robert Leroy Parker, alias Butch Cassidy; Standing: Will Carver & Harvey Logan, alias Kid Curry. (Fort Worth, Texas, 1900)

"Fort Worth Five" c 1900

The Friki Tiki Ice Hut, Circleville, Utah

Before leaving town we stopped at the Friki Tiki Ice Hut for an ice cream cone. The hut is housed in a 1950's style trailer with a grass skirt around it. Curiosity got the better of us. We just had to investigate. With reports like "best cherry nut ice cream ever" and "Bahama Mama shaved ice is to die for" it was impossible to resist. We had to indulge. We sat at the picnic table in the shade of a grass umbrella to finish our sweet treats! The Friki Tiki

State Highway 62 Utah

We backtracked on Hwy 89 to Hwy 62 turning east into the Kingston Canyon. This 42 mile route is incredibly beautiful. Hwy 62 winds and twists through the Kingston Canyon following the East Fork Servier River. Along this route of red rock cliffs is a grouping of hoodoos. The hwy then exits the canyon and follows the valley north through a lush farming area known as Grass Valley.

Fishlake Scenic Byway - Highway 25 Utah

Fishlake Scenic Byway, traversing 29 miles through the Fishlake Nation Forest, runs from State Route 24 to State Route 72. It passes though sagebrush flats to a high mountainous terrain before descending into the Fish Lake basin. It continues northeast (as Forest Road 640 and Forest Road 36) passing Johnson Valley Reservoir and ending at the junction of State Route 72.

The Fishlake Scenic Byway from State Route 24 to Johnson Valley Reservoir was designated on April 9, 1990 and increased in August 1992 from Johnson Valley Reservoir to State Route 72.

Pando Aspen Clone - The Trembling Giant

This incredible aspen grove is actually one single organism. Each of the 40,000 individual trees is a clone growing out of one massive underground root system. This Pando Clone is believed to be the world's heaviest living organism, as well as one of the world's oldest creatures. The grove is located about one mile southwest of Fish Lake. Pando Tree - Wikipedia

Fish Lake Lodge

We stopped at Fish Lake Lodge for lunch. Before entering the dining room, we explored the old Lodge and visited the Fish Lake Interpretive Center. The Center provides an abundance of information and history about Fish Lake, the area, and the Fishlake National Forest. We stopped at the gift shop before heading to the dining room where we were seated at a table along the windows overlooking the lake. A great view and relaxing meal. Who could ask for more?

Fish Lake Lodge was constructed between 1928 until 1933., and built of native spruce logs, the lodge measures 80 X 320 feet, and is one of the largest and most impressive log structures in the United States.

The Fishlake Cut-Off - Old Spanish Trail

Of the 1,200 miles comprising the trail, 35 miles are found on the Fishlake National Forest. The Fishlake Cut-off of the Old Spanish Trail was a 72-mile shortcut that skirted the western shores of Wahsatch Lake (Fish Lake). Reaching elevations near 9,000 feet, the trail crossed mountain valleys that provided abundant quantities of fish, grass, water, and cool summer temperatures for travelers using this alternate route. This "southern branch" rejoined the main Old Spanish Trail near Kingston, Utah. Historical Marker Database Also further reading USDA - Forest Service

Forest Roads #640 and #032

Just north of the resort area hwy 25 became Forest Road 640 which took us over the top of Johnson Valley Reservoir then became Forest Road 36 heading southeast generally following the Fremont River. We passed several recreation areas, campsites, and the Mill Meadow Reservoir before connecting with Hwy 72 and Hwy 24. There were a coupled of interesting areas noted on the map - Spatter Drip Canyon and Spatter Canyon but I was "virtually" unable to find out anything about them.

Thousand Lake Mountain Road Scenic Byway

"Thousand Lake Mountain Road is a 35-mile scenic backway that begins in Fremont and loops through the Cathedral Valley section of Capitol Reef National Park. The road climbs steep cliffs and towering rock formations, leading to stunning panoramic vistas. A high-clearance vehicle is recommended for the two hour drive along the mostly dirt and gravel but well-maintained road." Capital Reef Country

We drove to the entrance to the byway but I got cold feet. It had rained the night before and the entrance of sandy clay was deep rutted and wet. As usual, Karen was game - I was not. In addition, it was getting late in the afternoon and we still had to do our laundry in Torrey! Those are my virtual arguments.

Highway 24 Utah

We've travelled this stretch several times and if we were asked about this area we would probably say very pretty but rather unremarkable. And, we would be wrong. Today, checking out the history of the small towns of Fremont, Loa, and Lyman, I found out they are not so unremarkable after all. In fact, in the 6 miles between Fremont and Lyman I found nine historical markers. Who knew that Loa was named in 1876 after Mauna Loa, the beautiful 13,000 foot high volcanic mountain on the Island of Hawaii. Historical Marker Database

Bicknell, Utah

Another "unremarkable" town along Hwy 24 with a very specific name. Bicknell, population 327, was originally called Thurber, or Thurber Town, for A.K. Thurber, who in 1879 built the first house in the area.

In 1914 Thomas W. Bicknell, a wealthy eastern author, historian, and Education Commissioner for Rhode Island, offered a thousand-volume library to any Utah town that would rename itself after him. The town of Grayson also wanted the library prize, so in a compromise in 1916, Grayson took the name of Blanding, Mr. Bicknell's wife's maiden name. The two towns split the library, each receiving 500 books. Thomas W. Bicknell - Wikipedia

Nielsen Gristmill - Bicknell, Utah

The Nielsen Gristmill is located about three miles south of Bicknell at the foot of Thousand Lake Mountain. Constructed around 1893 for Hans Peter Nielsen by his son-in-law, Niels Hansen, the mill was known as the Thurber Rolling Mills. Water for powering the mill was channeled from the Fremont River. The Gristmill was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on June 18, 2975 as #75001835.

Nielsen Gristmill c 1875-1899

Torrey, Utah

The town was established in the 1880s by Mormon settlers. Its proximity to Capitol Reef National Park, Fishlake and Dixie National Forests, and Scenic Byway 12, make Torrey the perfect hub for tourists.

We booked into our cabin at the Chuckwagon Motel. While Karen went to the deli, I started doing laundry. We went for a drive around town then spent the rest of the evening relaxing on our porch.

Chuckwagon Motel (2008)

Torrey Schoolhouse

The historic Torrey Log Church-Schoolhouse in Torrey, Utah was built in 1898 as both a schoolhouse and a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The one story log structure served as the school until 1917, and as a meetinghouse until 1928. The Torrey School was listed in the National Register of Historical Places on May 14, 1993 as #93000411.

Torrey School (2008)

Post Note - Day Seven: Wow! Day Seven took four full days on the computer to drive. For the first time on this trip, as soon as we turned onto Highway 25, I was in totally uncharted territory and I felt lost. It was necessary to research more to get a feel for the area. I got totally derailed when I found the Pando Aspen Clone. I have never heard of such a thing and ended up spending a long time reading the information.

Also, I never did figure out where the Thousand Lake Mountain Road Scenic Byway begins and ends. The Cathedral Valley (part of Capital Reef National Park) is certainly one area I'd like to see. I could find the road to Cathedral Valley but could not find the "loop". All indication is that our vehicle would have no trouble on the road but The NPS Website says "The south end of the Hartnet Road near Highway 24 requires fording the Fremont River. There is no bridge over the river. Do not attempt to cross the river during floods or other periods of high water." What? I'm almost afraid to let Karen know it even exists.

It takes no imagination to settle in at Torrey. We've been there so many times, I can "feel" it. I can even smell the "old wood" of the Chuckwagon General Store mixed with the smell of fresh baked bread as you walk in the door. I can hear the wood door with the screen slamming behind me as the curly-cue spring pulls it shut. Amazing the things that your senses remember, isn't it?


Day 8 - Torrey, Utah - Capitol Reef National Park
We decided to spend one more night in Torrey to visit Capital Reef National Park and Grand Staircase Escalante. Karen is also determined to find the backroad a friend told her about years ago. And, yes there is still the intriguing Cathedral Valley Loop. Highways today were east from Torrey on State Hwy 24 to the Cathedra Valley Loop. Once back on Hwy 24, we drove the Scenic Drive in the Park, then back on State Hwy 24 to Torrey. Google Map

Capitol Reef National Park

We stopped at the Visitor's Center to pick up the tour maps and ask about Cathedral Valley. As expected, the navigational director overrode all my objections. We were on our way - a new adventure, a new road, and a very scary river ford. I cant even imagine what that would be like. I get an adrenaline rush just thinking about it. With maps in hand and our safety checklist "mostly" filled (minus a shovel) we were on our way.

We were in familiar territory on the the first part of the route along State Hwy 24. We've been this way many times and over the years have stopped at most of the pullouts, overlooks and tourist attractions.

Goosenecks Point Overlook

Three miles before the visitors centre, the Goosenecks Overlook is 800 feet above the meandering Sulphur Creek carving its way through the oldest rocks exposed at Capitol Reef. The canyon rim has no barriers. I get weak kneed and view everything from the safe distance of 10 feet back. There's even a bench for me to sit on. Karen has no problem looking over the edge.

Gooseneck Overlook (2008)

Fruita Schoolhouse

We stopped at the Schoolhouse. We've been here before but never walked around the building or looked in the windows. It is quite impressive.

The property for the Schoolhouse was donated by the Behunin Family. The early pioneers in the community (then known as Junction) built the one-room schoolhouse around 1892-1894.

Fruita Schoolhouse (2008)
The log building also served as a meeting house and church. The Schoolhouse was was Fruita's only public structure. Besides being Fruita's only school, it served as a church. The building also functioned as the community center for dances, elections and celebrations. In 1964, the National Park Service restored the structure to the 1930s period. The Fruita Schoolhouse was listed in the National Register of Historical Places on February 23, 1972 as #72000098.

Fruita Petroglyphs

The petroglyph figures can be seen along a sheer cliff that parallels Hwy 24 just east of the Visitor Center in Capitol Reef.

The Petroglyphs cover several rock panels and the diversity of images is amazing. Boardwalks and viewing platforms have been established to make it easy for visitors to see them.

Fruita Petroglyphs (2013)
Fremont petroglyphs (carved or pecked into the rock) depict people, animals and other shapes and forms. The human-like figures are often elaborately decorated with headdresses, ear bobs, necklaces, clothing items and facial expressions. A wide variety of animal-like figures include bighorn sheep, deer, dogs, birds, snakes and lizards. Abstract designs, geometric shapes and hand prints are also common.

Behunin Cabin

The Elijah Cutler Behunin Cabin was built to house Elijah Cutler Behunin's family in 1883–84.The Behunins lived there for only a year, leaving for Fruita after a flood threatened the house.

The one story sandstone structure measures 13 feet by 16.5 feet with a single room. Elijah and his wife and their 13 children all lived within the home. I cant imagine living in a one room cabin let alone with 13 children.

Behunin Cabin (Wikipedia)
The cabin was renovated in the 1960s by the National Park Service and represents the most intact example of a settler cabin in Capitol Reef National Park. The Behunin Cabin was listed in the National Register of Historical Places on September 13, 1999 as #99001094.

Cathedral Valley - Capitol Reef National Park

Cathedral Valley was named in 1945 by Frank Beckwith and Charles Kelly, the first superintendent of Capitol Reef. The upward-sweeping, tapering lines, and three dimensional surfaces reminded them of the temples and Gothic-style Cathedrals.

The monoliths are composed of the earthy, buff-pink Entrada Sandstone. Deposited 160 million years ago, this fine grained sandstone crumbles easily to a fine sand which is rapidly removed by water. Therefore, slopes do not form and Entrada cliffs tend to rise sheer from their base.

Cathedral Valley Loop

Now for the main event! The information says it will take 6-8 hours to complete the loop. Karen figures, since we are not hikers, we can do it in 3-4 hours. She's probably right. Of course, everything is virtually perfect. The roads are all freshly graded, the weather is warm with no chance of rain, and the river ford is low enough that we can easily cross it. Cathedral Valley - NPS

The Cathedral Valley Loop passes through a stark desert characterized by beautiful sandstone monoliths and desert vistas. Many of the Valley's structures have interesting, highly descriptive names. Cathedral Valley Loop

The Fremont River Ford

With map in hand we found the turnoff to Hartnet Road and were immediately confronted with the Fremont River. NPS River Ford Map

The NPS Website says "Do not attempt to cross the river during floods or other periods of high water. The ford has a hard packed, rocky bottom and water levels are normally a foot or less deep." So how exactly are we supposed to know if the water is high or not and exactly how high is too high?

Fremont River (Wikipedia)

I don't like words like "normally". Should I send Karen out with hip waders to wander into the water that "should, normally, maybe, might" be passable to check the depth? Hip waders were not on our check list!

Let's just assume I managed to get through the river still breathing and without having a heart attack! After all, we still have the whole Cathedral Valley Loop to finish!

Bentonite Hills (9 Mile Mark)

The Bentonite Hills appear as softly contoured, banded hills in varying hues of brown, red, purple, gray, and green. The hills were formed during Jurassic times when mud, silt, fine sand, and volcanic ash were deposited in swamps and lakes. Bentonite clay (altered volcanic ash) absorbs water and becomes very slick and gummy when wet, making vehicle or foot travel difficult or impossible.

Bentonite Hills (Wikipedia)

Lower South Desert Overlook (14 Mile Mark)

National Park Service says that Jailhouse Rock, elevation 6123 feet, and the Lower South Desert are visible from the end of the road, but it is worth making the additional ¼-mile walk for its unobstructed vistas. The shelf suddenly drops off, affording a terrific view of the sandy South Desert below. I'll assume we take this short hike - but once we get there reality might settle in.

Jailhouse Rock (Wikipedia)

Upper South Desert Overlook (27 Mile Mark)

The Upper South Desert Overlook views the same valley from the opposite side. All indications are that we will be able to walk to the overlook from the parking lot without a strenuous hike - that the short 1/10 mile trail to the rocky outcrop overlooking the South Desert is level and easy to cross.

Upper Cathedral Valley Lookout (30 Mile Mark)

We drove the short trail to the overlook but passed on the hike to the Cathedral Trail along the base of the wall. All indication is that we don't want to take the hike to get up close and personal with the cathedrals, rock castles and spires. We will leave that up to more able bodied enthusiasts.

Cathedral Mountain (Wikipedia)
Shortly after the Overlook, the top of the loop turns right as FR 022 and FR 206 continues to eventually meet up with Hwy 72. This is the road I was looking for yesterday. Now I'm glad we waited or we would have missed half the loop. The return journey passes the Cathedral Valley Campground then starts down a series switchbacks into the Upper Cathedral Valley.

Cathedral Valley Corral

An interesting structure appears at this point on the map but it doesn't look like tourists have access to it. I wasn't able to find very many pictures of it either. The Cathedral Valley Corral was constructed around 1900 by local cattlemen. The corral site uses sandstone cliffs as part of the enclosure. The Cathedral Valley Corral was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on September 13, 1999 as #99001093.

Cathedral Corral (Wikipedia)

Gypsum Sinkhole (33 Mile Mark)

We took the spur road to see the Gypsum Sinkhole. We took the short hike to the edge of the hole. With no railings, I just couldn't get close. The Gypsum Sinkhole was formed when groundwater dissolved a buried gypsum plug. The cavity left behind collapsed under the weight of overlying rock layers. This collapse has created a massive sinkhole 50 feet wide and 200 feet deep.

Volcanic Dikes

The dikes and sills seen in Cathedral Valley formed as recently as 3-6 million years ago. Dikes and sills are the result of molten lava flowing into vertical joints (dikes) or between horizontal layers of sedimentary rocks (sills), then solidifying. More resistant to erosion than the surrounding layers, the lava rock outcrops provide a stark and rugged contrast, forming jagged ridges and pointed outcrops. (NPS)

Volcanic Dikes (NPS)

Black Basalt Boulders

Black basalt boulders strewn across the landscape are remnants of lava flows that capped Boulder and Thousand Lake Mountains about 20 million years ago. Short glacial periods on these peaks broke up the underlying basalt. Glacial outwash and mudslides, along with the natural process of erosion, helped move the boulders far from their original location. (NPS)

Black Basalt Boulders (NPS)

Glass Mountain (42 Mile Mark)

Glass Mountain is a large, exposed mound of selenite crystals. Selenite is a variety of gypsum in the form of glassy crystals. Gypsum was deposited as sea water evaporated 165 million years ago and then buried under other sediments. The gypsum migrated upwards through fractures in the sediments forming layers and, very rarely, domes like the Glass Mountain called a "gypsum plug."

Glass Mountain (Wikipedia)

Temples of the Sun and Moon (42 Mile Mark)

Temple of the Sun at 5,822 feet elevation and Temple of the Moon at 5,665 feet elevation summit are located in the the Park's Middle Desert of Cathedral Valley District. The free-standing monoliths tower over 400 feet above the surrounding terrain.

Temple of the Sun (Wikipedia)
The rest of the loop went relatively quickly as there were no more overlooks and pullouts just a fantastic drive through the valley back to Hwy 24. At least we don't have to ford a river on the way out!

The Gifford Homestead

Before heading back to Torrey, we drive the length of Scenic Drive in the Park and on our way out stopped at the Gifford House near the Park's visitor's center for pie and coffee. The Gifford farm lies in the heart of the Fruita valley. It is is operated by the Capitol Reef Natural History Association and offers many local and handmade items for sale. In addition to the farmhouse, the Gifford homestead includes a barn, smokehouse, garden, pasture, and rock walls.

Gifford Homestead (2008)

Capital Reef - Dark Sky Park

Capital Reef National Park is a Dark Sky Park. In fact, several National Parks have this distinction. A Dark Sky Park is a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment. International Dark Sky Parks

The International Dark-Sky Association recognized Capitol Reef National Park as an International Dark Sky Park in 2015. Torrey hosts an annual Heritage Starfest in the fall.

Burr Trail vs Notom-Bullfrog Road

We debated tonight which route we wanted to take from Torrey to Bluff. There are a few options.

  1. The top route through Hanksville direct to Bluff.
  2. The lower route over the Burr Trail to the Bullfrog/Halls Ferry.
  3. The middle route down Notom-Bullfrog Road to Bullfrog/Halls Ferry.

We have never been on the Notom-Bullfrog Road. A look at the map shows that this "maintained dirt road" running along the eastern side of the Waterpocket Fold, meets up with the Burr Trail at about the half way point. It connects connects Capitol Reef National Park with the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The draw back would be that we would miss the scenery on Hwy 12 and the switchbacks on the Burr Trail. The Notom-Bullfrog Road might just be the mystery road that Karen heard about years ago. Notom-Bullfrog Road

As much as we would like to drive this new road, in the end we opted for a trip down Memory Lane - Hwy 12 and the Burr Trail to the Ferry. I guess we are still putting things on our bucket list for future years!

Post Note - Day Eight: I really think that if we had just forded the river then turned around, Karen would be happy to call it a done deal. In reality we might just do that. But once we had Cathedral Valley in our sights, I felt the need to reach the the finish line. I got really bogged down today. With no idea what to expect, I spent a lot of time reading the NPS pages, tourist articles, and personal blogs. Somewhere in between the most adventurous off-roader to the squeamish white knuckle granny, we needed to find our comfort zone.

Torrey hosts an annual Heritage Starfest in the fall to celebrate it's Dark Sky status. I thought about virtually changing the dates so we could attend the Festival tonight - but I think we are too tired after today's touring (and I'm not sure how the residents of Torrey would feel about the change.)

I know that Karen is going to argue the merits of taking the Notom-Bullfrog Road instead of the Burr Trail. I'm going to stand firm on this debate. I have some surprises up my sleeve for tomorrow.


Day 9 - Torrey, Utah - Hells Backbone Road
Highways today were south on State Hwy 12 from Torrey to Boulder. Just south of Boulder we turned west on Hells Backbone Road/FR 153 which turns into Pine Creek Road/Posy Lake Road to Escalante and back on Hwy 12 heading south. Just south of Escalante we turned onto Reservoir Road to Escalante Petrified Forest State Park then back on Hwy 12 heading north. A few miles later, we turned east on the Hole-in-the-Rock Trail to Devil's Garden and back to Hwy 12, then north to Boynton Overlook, over the Hogback, through Boulder and back to Torrey. A long time on the road but only 174 Miles. Google Map
Highway 12 (2010)

All-American Road: Scenic Byway 12

State Route 12 also known as "A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway" connects Panguitch on Hwy 89 and Torrey on Hwy 24.

Between Torrey and Boulder, Byway 12 crosses the eastern flank of Boulder Mountain with spectacular views. On a clear day travelers can see more than 100 miles into Colorado and Arizona.

Before the Boulder Mountain section of Highway 12 was paved, snow and mud closed the dirt road from late November until late May. Even in the summer months, traveling the unpaved road over Boulder Mountain could be a bone-rattling adventure.

In 1977, the Utah Department of Transportation began to prepare the Boulder Mountain road for paving. Eight years later, in 1985, nearby residents gathered with highway officials on Boulder Mountain to celebrate completion of Highway 12 pavement.

Anasazi State Park Museum - Boulder, Utah

I don't know how many times we've blown through Boulder in our rush to get to somewhere else, but today we stopped to visit the Anasazi State Park. The Park features the ruins of an ancient Anasazi village referred to as the Coombs Village Site. Ancestral Puebloans were likely the descendants of an Archaic Desert culture known as the Basketmaker culture.

The Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) village was likely occupied from 1050 - 1200 A.D. It is one of the largest communities west of the Colorado River and is located near what is considered to be the border of the Ancestral Puebloan and Fremont cultures. Anasazi State Park Museum

Anasazi Replica Dwelling

Outside the museum, there is a life-sized, six-room replica of an ancient dwelling. Inside, we viewed a short video and toured the Museum. There are artifacts excavated from this site and a store where we found an amazing selection of a jewelry, pottery, and baskets - just the treasures we needed to buy!

The Coombs Village Site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on January 1, 1976 as #76001815.

Magnolias Street Food

This is the second time this trip we've stumbled on great food served out of a converted bus on the side of the road. With our Museum Tour finished, it just seemed like a good time to have lunch. After all, we have been on the road a whopping 37 miles now. Magnolia's Street Food

Hells Backbone Road

There are two roads between the towns of Boulder and Escalante. One is the beautifully paved Scenic Byway 12. The other is the jaw dropping, back wrenching, heart stopping Hell's Backbone through the Box-Death Hollow Wilderness. Well OK then. Let's go. Just south of Boulder we turned west on the Hell's Backbone.

Hell's Backbone, named for the very narrow ridge traversed by the road where the land on both sides falls away vertically, was built in the early 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (the CCC). The CCC crews dubbed it the Poison Road – one false step, and down you go. The name alone should be a deterrent. It just seems ominous. More Reading - Historical Marker Database

Hell's Backbone Bridge (Wikipedia)

Hell's Backbone Bridge

One comment I read (referring to Hwy 12 vs Hell's Backbone) was "both roads boast ridiculously beautiful scenery, but only one has a bridge that can make an acrophobic's heart skip a beat."

If I had told Karen this was the main attraction, we just might be on solid ground bouncing across the Burr Trail by now. She might be OK. (It's not above water.) If not, she can always "walk" across it.

In any event we are on the infamous "Hell's Backbone Bridge" with a history all it's own. Halfway along the route, the road crosses the historic Hell's Backbone Bridge. This show stopper is 109 feet long, 14 feet wide and is 1500 feet above the valley floor. The bridge actually rests on a narrow strip of rock but it does have railings!!

The historic wooden bridge was built in 1933 and replaced in 2005 with the current steel and concrete bridge but you can still see remnants of wooden beams beneath the structure and beside the road. 1935 Photo

Grand Staircase Escalante

This part of our day is in the The Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument. We've travelled through here many times, going in all directions, but today is actually something new for us as we are exploring the area.

The land is among the most remote in the country and was the last to be mapped. There are three main regions: the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante (Escalante River). All regions are administered by the Bureau of Land Management as part of the National Conservation Lands system.

The Grand-Staircase-Escalante National Monument was originally designated by President Bill Clinton in 1996 protecting 1,880,461 acres. In 2017, the monument's size was cut in half by President Trump. Conservation, angling, hunting, and outdoor recreation groups filed suit to block any reduction in the national monument. The cases were still pending at the 2020 election. Wikipedia

Petrified Wood (Wikipedia)

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park was created in 1963. The visitor center was built in 1991, and features displays of plant and marine fossils, petrified wood and fossilized dinosaur bones.

The wood is multicolored (mostly red, yellow, white, and black). A 50 foot log in the Park is one of the most complete fossil logs known from the Morrison Formation. Wikipedia

Hole-in-the-Rock (Wikipedia)

Hole-in-the-Rock Trail

We took one quick side trip from Hwy 12 to the Hole-in-the-Rock Trail. We did not be spending much time on this road - just going as far as the Devil's Garden.

The historical Hole-in-the-Rock Trail, established in 1879 by the Hole-in-the-Rock Expedition, ran east-southeast from the town of Escalante to Bluff.

The 180 mile route is named for the place where the Mormon pioneers constructed a descent to the Colorado River. The natural crevice on the 1,000 foot cliff above the Colorado was enlarged by the party to lower the wagons down to river level, where it could be forded. The portion of the trail below the Hole-in-the-Rock Trail is now flooded by Lake Powell.

The actual Hole-in-the-Rock was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on November 3, 1975 as #751000165 and the Hole-in-the-Rock Trail was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on August 9, 1982 as #82004792.

Devil's Garden (Mile 12 Mark)

The Devils Garden is a protected area featuring hoodoos, natural arches and other sandstone formations. The United States Geological Survey designated the name Devils Garden on December 31, 1979. Many hoodoos of varying sizes and shapes are scattered throughout the Devils Garden, with a particular group of four prominent hoodoos, with no official name, being a popular photographic subject. We took the time to have our lunch at one of the picnic tables provided.

Four Hoodoos (Wikipedia)

The majority of the interesting sandstone formations are located in a compact area adjacent to the parking lot.

The formations in the Devils Garden were created, and continue to be shaped, by various weathering and erosional processes. These natural processes have been shaping sandstone layers formed more than 166 million years ago during the Jurassic period's Middle epoch. Wikipedia

Boynton Overlook (2008)

Boynton Overlook - Hwy 12

Boynton Overlook gives visitors a bird's eye view of the riparian area along the meandering Escalante River. The overlook was named for John Boynton, a cattle man caught in a confrontation over a woman that ended with murder in 1878. Today, the overlook serves as a welcome stop to experience the sights and sounds of the Escalante River Canyon. (BLM)

The Hogback (Scenic USA)

The Hogback

Heading north again on on Hwy 12 we reached The Hogback. It takes every once on concentration to "keep it between the lines" navigating the series of "S" turns. I remember the first time we were on this section and suddenly realized we were on a balance beam - no shoulders, no rails and nothing but steep cliffs on both sides of us. We will do anything for an adrenaline rush.

Torrey

By the time we got back to the Burr Trail turnoff, we decided not to go to Bluff tonight but to go back to Torrey and head down the Notom-Bullfrog Road in the morning. It seemed like a good compromise - we did the Hells Backbone today and can do the Notom-Bullfog Road tomorrow. Also, this new plan gives us time on our way to Bluff to visit Natural Bridges National Monument - one of the few Trail of the Ancients places in the Bluff area that we have not done yet.

Post Note - Day Nine:

Today had a new twist. Now that I've involved Karen, she has this urge to make sure the navigation is correct. In reality she did want to take the Notom-Bullfrog Road instead of the Burr Trail (although there wasn't really an argument). The difference was she was sitting right beside me at the computer - while I drove (of course). I just smiled and said "no, I have something else in store for us". However, by the time we finished the day, we realized we didn't have time to get to to the Bullfrog Ferry before it's last sail at 5:00 pm. We could make it "virtually" run later, but in the end we decided we would go back to Torrey and take the Notom-Bullfrog Road tomorrow. She just smiled and said "so I win after all". I'm not sure if that is a "win win" or a "lose lose" but we are back in Torrey for our third night.

It amazes me how much there is to see in areas where we thought we had seen it all. We had no idea the Hells Backbone existed and we questioned how we could have missed it. Also the history of the Hole-in-the-Rock and the Trail is familiar, but we didn't realize exactly where it is.

I've given up trying the shorten the verbiage for each day. It really doesn't matter how long this page is, there is no rule that says we have to save space, and it absolutely doesn't matter in any way how long this trip takes. We have no itinerary, there are always hotel rooms available for us, gas stations are conveniently located where we need them and of course money is not a factor. There is no doubt about it. We are enjoying this virtual trip.


Day 10 - Torrey to Bluff, Utah

Part 1 - Torrey to Bullfrog Marina

Highways today were east from Torrey on State Hwy 24, south on Notom-Bullfrog Road, west on the Burr Trail Road, up the switchbacks, north on Upper Muley Twist/Strike Valley Overlook Road, and backtracking down the switchbacks to the Notom-Bullfrog Junction. From there we continued south on the Burr Trail/BLM 12000 to State Hwy 276 to Bullfrog Marina. Torrey to Bullfrog Marina

Part 2 - Halls Crossing to Bluff

Although State Hwy 276 crosses Lake Powell on the Charles Hall Ferry and continues on the other side of the lake, Google Maps will not pick that up so the second part of highways today is from Halls Crossing to Bluff. Exiting the Ferry we continued on State Hwy 276, west on State Hwy 95, north on State Hwy 275 into Natural Bridges National Monument and back out, east on Hwy 95, then south on State Hwy 261 to the top of Moki Dugway where we turned onto Muley Point Road. We stopped first at Muley Point East before continuing to Muley Point West, backtracked to Hwy 261 and continued south to US 163. We turned west on Hwy 163 and turned onto Road 2161 to Mexican Hat Rock and out, then east on US 163 and US 191 to Bluff. Halls Crossing Marina to Bluff

Capitol Reef National Park Visitor Center

As recommended, we stopped at the Visitor Center to get maps and road information. While Karen was doing that, I shopped in the visitor center bookstore. I managed to find a good book on the history of Fruita, the Loop the Fold road guide, and a packet of beautiful Grand Circle pictorial postcards. Who sends postcards anymore? I guess we do now. Postcards CRNP

Capitol Dome & Navajo Dome

Capitol Dome, the iconic landmark from which Capitol Reef National Park gets it's name, is situated 2.5 miles east of the Park's Visitor Center on Hwy 24. It's summit, at 6,120 feet towers 800 feet above the Fremont River and State Route 24. The similar Navajo Dome with an elevation of 6,489 feet and a distinctive pointed top is a half mile west of Capitol Dome.

Capitol Dome (Wikipedia)

Notom-Bullfrog Road (Mile 9.1)

About 9 miles east of the Visitor Center, we turned south onto The Notom-Bullfrog Road. This road is paved for the first 10 miles, gravel for the next 6 miles, and then 17 miles of infrequently-graded dirt, clay, and sand. It runs parallel to the eastern slope of the Waterpocket Fold. The massive Henry Mountains are on the east side of the valley.

NPS refers to this area as "Geological Features of the South District". Most of the drive down the Notom-Bullfrog Road is simply a scenic drive along the eastern edge of the Waterpocket Fold and "becoming immersed in the geology of Capitol Reef".

The Golden Throne and other "muffin" or "biscuit" shaped formations of Navajo and Page sandstones can be seen from the road. It runs through a section of Bentonite Clay with colorful shades of gray, blue, purple and red in the popcorn-textured slopes. For us, the most interesting is always the pale Navajo Sandstone that contrasts sharply with the dark red chevrons of the Carmel Formation.

Waterpocket Fold

The Waterpocket Fold is a 100-mile long warp in the Earth's crust, running north-south from Thousand Lake Mountain to Lake Powell creating a dramatic landscape of rugged cliffs, canyons, striking natural bridges, and intricate arches. The fold is a classic monocline, a "step-up" in the rock layers. Movement along the fault caused the west side to shift upwards more than 7,000 feet higher than the layers on the east. (NPS)

Tilted Morrison Formation - Notom Road (Wikipedia)

Geology of Capital Reef Area

The Permian through Jurassic stratigraphy of the Colorado Plateau. From top to bottom: Rounded tan domes of the Navajo Sandstone, layered red Kayenta Formation, cliff-forming, vertically-jointed, red Wingate Sandstone, slope-forming, purplish Chinle Formation, layered, lighter-red Moenkopi Formation, and white, layered Cutler Formation sandstone. (It all just looks red to us.) Wikipedia

Stratigraphy (Wikipedia)

Desert Varnish

Desert varnish is the thin red-to-black coating found on exposed rock surfaces in arid regions. Varnish is composed of clay minerals, oxides and hydroxides of manganese and/or iron, as well as other particles such as sand grains and trace elements. The most distinctive elements are manganese and iron. The color of rock varnish depends on the relative amounts of manganese (black) and iron (red/orange) in it. (NPS)

Desert Varnish Burr Trail (2010)

Slot Canyons

The Notom-Bullfrog Road provides access to three of the most popular Slot Canyons - Burro Wash, Cottonwood Wash, and Sheets Gulch for those strong enough to endure a strenuous hike. Not us. We just kept going.

A slot canyon is a long, narrow, deep and tortuous channel or drainageway with sheer rock walls that are typically eroded into either sandstone or other sedimentary rock. Some slot canyons can measure less than 3 feet across at the top but drop more than 100 feet to the floor of the canyon. They are subject to flash flooding.

Many slot canyons are formed in sandstone and limestone rock, although slot canyons in other rock types such as granite and basalt are possible.

Cottonwood Wash (Wikipedia)

Notom (Pleasant Creek) Ghost Town (Mile 14.0)

The Notom area, four miles south of Hwy 24, was originally settled in 1886 by jack-of-all-trades Jorgen Christian Smith. A linguist of German ancestry, he was a blacksmith as well as the man area settlers turned to for medical help. Although the settlement grew large enough to have its own post office and a branch of the LDS church, it ultimately lost its inhabitants and ceased to exist as a town. At its largest population, Notom had 23 families. The settlement was first called Pleasant Creek, but the postal authorities requested a change since that name was already in use. Today Notom is the jumping off point for exploration of the eastern edge of Capitol Reef National Park and is home to the Sunlit Oasis. Capitol Reef Ghost Towns

Hoodoos (Mile 17.6)

The Entrada Sandstone is wind-blown sand deposited along the shoreline of an ancient sea. Slightly more resistant strata within the sandstone protect the softer material below, allowing the hoodoos to form. The Entrada is exposed at several other locations in Utah, such as Arches NP, Goblin Valley SP, and Cathedral Valley in Capitol Reed NP. Loop the Fold CRNP

Summerville Formation (28.1)

The Summerville Formation, a finely-layered rock with narrow bands of mudstone, siltstone, sandstone, and gypsum, is exposed to the east. It formed along the western shore of a shallow inland sea, as currents deposited sediments. When areas of seawater were cut off in small basins, the water quickly evaporated, leaving behind gypsum, sometimes in thick layers. Loop the Fold CRNP

Oyster Shell Reef (Mile 32.3)

At approximately the 32 mile mark there is a dense oyster shell reef dominated by the oysters shells - another form of life from Capitol Reef's distant past. These 100-million-year-old oysters reflect a time when a sea inundated this area and created the brackish marine conditions necessary to support this form of life. The shells of these oysters were concentrated in the beach deposit preserved as the Dakota Sandstone.

Oyster Shell Reef (NPS)

Morrison Formation (Mile 39.6)

For more than half a mile, the road passes between two layers of the 150 million year old Morrison Formation. On the east are multicolored, rounded hills, of soft claystone and volcanic ash in the younger Brushy Basin layer, formed in a wetland floodplain environment. To the west is the tan coloured, erosion-resistant Salt Wash layer, which is coarse sandstone and river deposited gravel and cobbles. Loop the Fold CRNP

Brushy Basin Morrison Formation
(Britannia Sample)

Navajo Sandstone and Carmel Layer (Mile 39.8)

The viewpoint provides views of the steeply tilted eastern face of the Waterpocket Fold. The red, angular exposures of the Carmel layer contrast with the tall, white Navajo Sandstone slopes. The softer Entrada and Summerville layers have eroded downward more quickly, and form the valley floor. Loop the Fold CRNP

Navajo Sandstone & Carmel Layer (Wikipedia)

Strike Valley

Just before reaching the Burr Trail turn, the Notom-Bullfrog Road enters Strike Valley.

Strike Valley is the product of rock layers eroding at different rates, depending on how soft or hard they are. Erosion-resistant rock layers form into ridges, or hogbacks, while the softer layers erode into valleys parallel to the ridges. Strike Valley is the most obvious evidence of the Waterpocket Fold in Capitol Reef National Park

Mancos Shale Strike Valley (Wikipedia)

Burr Trail Switchbacks (Mile 42.9)

We weren't going to pass up the opportunity to go up and "down" the switchbacks on the Burr Trail so once we reached the Burr Trail junction, we turned west. Apparently, cars ascending the switchbacks have the right of way. Also, you are not supposed to stop on the switchbacks but I don't think that rule applies to our virtual "up and down". No doubt we will be stopping and taking an abundance of photos.

Burr Trail Switchbacks (2010)

The Burr Trail

The Burr Trail is a backcountry route extending from the mountain town of Boulder down through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument into Capital Reef National Park and then to Bullfrog in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The route covers about 68 miles. Originally, only the switchbacks were named the Burr Trail. Today, the entire road from Boulder to Bullfrog is known as the Burr Trail.

Burr Trail 2010)
The Burr Trail was used by cattleman in the late 19th century to move cattle back and forth between winter and summer ranges. It was named after John Atlantic Burr, who was born in 1846 aboard the SS Brooklyn somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. He and his family lived in Salt Lake City, then later moved south and established the town of Burrville, Utah, in 1876. John Burr soon developed a trail to move cattle back and forth between winter and summer ranges and to market. This cattle trail through the rough, nearly impassable country around the Waterpocket Fold, Burr Canyon, and Muley Twist Canyon came to be known as the Burr Trail.

Upper Muley Twist and Strike Valley Overlook

We also decided to check out the Upper Muley Twist Canyon Trail and Strike Valley Overlook. We are not sure if we can get to the Strike Valley Overlook as all indication is we need a four wheel drive but will drive as far as we can go anyway. The Upper Muley Twist Canyon Road is located one mile west of the top of the Burr Trail Road switchbacks. Passenger cars can be driven about 0.3 mile in to the Upper Muley Twist Canyon trailhead. High clearance vehicles, typically requiring four wheel drive, can drive 2.9 miles up the canyon to the Strike Valley Overlook parking area.

Lake Powell - Charles Hall Ferry

Once we finished our shenanigans on the switchbacks, we backtracked to the Notom-Bullfrog junction and turned south on Burr Trail/BLM Road 12000 to connect with Highway 276 to Bullfrog Marina and the Charles Hall Ferry. Hwy 276 crosses Lake Powell by ferry landing on the south end at Hall's Crossing. Ferry service between Bullfrog Basin and Halls Crossing began in 1985. Our ferry ride, as usual, was very relaxing.

Lake Powell (2008)

Lake Powell is a man-made reservoir on the Colorado River in Utah and Arizona. It was created by the flooding of Glen Canyon by the Glen Canyon Dam, which also led to the 1972 creation of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area public land managed by the National Park Service.

The reservoir is named for explorer John Wesley Powell, an American Civil War veteran who explored the river via three wooden boats in 1869. It primarily lies in southern Utah, with a small portion in northern Arizona.

Upon completion of Glen Canyon Dam on September 13, 1963, the Colorado River began to back up. The newly flooded Glen Canyon formed Lake Powell. Sixteen years elapsed before the lake filled to it's highest water level on July 14, 1983. The lake level fluctuates considerably depending on the seasonal snow runoff from the Rocky Mountains.

Trail of the Ancients - Utah

Although we've been in the Grand Circle for quite a while, officially, we are now driving on part of the Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway. The Byway has many different segments in Utah and Colorado, combined together to form the Trail of the Ancients. The route highlights the archaeological and cultural history of southwestern Native American peoples.

The Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway traverses the widely diverse geological landscape of the Four Corners region of the Colorado Plateau. It was the first National Scenic Byway that was designated solely for its archaeological sites. The entire route is approximately 480 miles long.

The National Scenic Byway connects prehistoric sites of Native Americans, including the Navajo, Utes and early puebloan people, who lived and farmed in the Four Corners area from about 1 CE to about 1300 CE (Common Era). There were people hunting and gathering for food in the Four Corners region by 10,000 B.C. or earlier.

Trail of the Ancients - Highway 276 Utah

The entire route of Highway 276 is part of the Trail of the Ancients. State Route 276 (split by Lake Powell) runs through the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and crosses Lake Powell via the Charles Hall Ferry, the only auto ferry in the state of Utah. Travel time over the water takes approximately 25 minutes. The ferry's northern port is Bullfrog and it's southern port is at Hall's Crossing.

Clay Hill Pass Historical Marker (2008)

Clay Hill Pass

In 1879 the L.D.S. church sent missionary families to San Juan Country to make settlement and better relations with the Indians. These pioneers, consisting of 83 wagon, came through the Hole in the Rock. On March 5, 1880 they reached the top of this hill, camped, and worked eight days building a road three miles long to bring the wagons safely to the bottom, a drop of 1,000 feet. Historical Marker Database

Natural Bridges National Monument (2008)

Natural Bridges National Monument
Trail of the Ancients - Highway 275 Utah

We have tried several times to visit the Monument but we always seemed to be under time restraints. This time we planned our day to include a tour of the Park. Highway 275 runs approximately 4 miles northwest, from the junction of SR-95 to the east entrance of Natural Bridges National Monument. The route forms part of the Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway.

The Park

Natural Bridges National Monument was designated a National Monument April 16, 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt. In 2007, the International Dark-Sky Association named Natural Bridges National Monument the first International Dark-Sky Park. During the summer, the park provides astronomy ranger programs under spectacular starry skies.

The Bridges

The Park features a large natural bridge carved from the white Permian sandstone of the Cedar Mesa Formation that gives White Canyon its name. (More of that "Permian" and "Formation" talk!)

The main attractions are the natural bridges, accessible from the Bridge View Drive, which winds along the park and goes by all three bridges. The three bridges in the park are named Kachina, Owachomo, and Sipapu which are all Hopi names.

A natural bridge is formed through erosion by water flowing in the stream bed of the canyon. During periods of flash floods, the stream undercuts the walls of rock that separate the meanders (or "goosenecks") of the stream, until the rock wall within the meander is undercut and the meander is cut off. The new stream bed then flows underneath the bridge. Eventually, as erosion and gravity enlarge the bridge's opening, the bridge collapses under its own weight. There is evidence of at least two collapsed natural bridges within the Monument.

Owachomo Bridge (Wikipedia)

Potential Owachomo Bridge Collapse

Potential bridge collapse is possible especially along the span of Owachomo Bridge in Armstrong Canyon which is only 9 feet thick at the crest of its span.

Earthquake potential is high along the Moab Fault in nearby Arches National Park. Ground shaking from earthquakes may impact the bridges causing catastrophic failure of one or more of the bridges.

Horsecollar Ruin (NPS)

Horsecollar Ruin

Horsecollar Ruin is an Ancestral Puebloan ruin visible from an overlook a short hike from Bridge View Drive. The site was abandoned more than 700 years ago but is in a remarkable state of preservation, including an undisturbed rectangular kiva with the original roof and interior, and two granaries with unusual oval shaped doors whose shape resembles horse collars (hence the site's name).

Bears Ears National Monument (Wikipedia)

Bears Ears National Monument

We will travel in and out of the original Bears Ears National Monument during this trip as a lot of Utah's Trail of the Ancients is inside the Monument.

Bears Ears National Monument, was established by President Barack Obama by presidential proclamation on December 28, 2016. The monument's original size was 1,351,849 acres. The monument protects the public land surrounding the Bears Ears and the Indian Creek corridor.

A proclamation issued by Trump on December 4, 2017, reduced the monument to 201,876 acres an unprecedented and exceptionally large reduction in the history of U.S. national monuments. Legal scholars have argued that the reduction is not authorized by law. Several federal lawsuits have been filed challenging Trump's action.

Bear Ears Buttes from Hwy 261 (Wikipedia)

Bear Ears Buttes

The Bears Ears Buttes that resemble the top of a bear's head, are most commonly appreciated from afar as they are set back in rising topography of the Manti-La Sal National Forest. The best place to see the iconic view of the Bears Ears is from State Route 261 traveling north towards Highway 95. These twin buttes stand over 8,700 feet in elevation. They are sacred places to many Indigenous Tribes and Pueblos who share spiritual connections to the area.

Trail of the Ancients - State Highway 261

We backtracked from Natural Bridges National Monument, then headed east on State Hwy 95 for a couple of miles to the turnoff of Utah State Highway 261. State Route 261 runs 34 miles from the junction of State Route 95 just east of Natural Bridges National Monument to the junction with U.S. Route 163 three miles north of Mexican Hat.

Highway 261 is part of the Utah section of the Trail of the Ancients. It is also completely within the Bears Ears National Monument. The road turns to gravel at the top of Cedar Mesa before it's descent down the steep switchbacks of the Moki Dugway.

Muley Point (American Southwest)

Muley Point

We turned at the top of Moki Dugway to take the road to Muley Point. We'd ventured on this route several years ago quite by accident and decided to do it again. To reach Muley Point, take the first (unmarked) road west at the top of the dugway, and travel the 5 mile gravel road to the overlook. The Muley Point Overlook provides a million dollar view of the Goosenecks, vast sweeping desert valley, and distant Monument Valley.

Moki Dugway

Highway 261 makes you feel like you are on top of the world - and you are!! We never tire of it. Arriving back on highway 261 is a good feeling for us. As much as it never seems to change - it really never stays the same. Karen even notices when some rocks have moved or a part of the road is changed - sometimes made wider and sometimes missing a shoulder.

Hwy 261 Switchbacks (2007)
Hwy 261 Switchbacks (2007)

Highway 261 provides some excellent scenery and some amazing overlooks, but it is not for those who are afraid of heights. Karen and I have come to claim it as our own special road.

We have more pictures of hwy 261 that any other place we're travelled. We have been on this road almost every year since 2002. I've been on it several times on extra trips. We don't even try to explain any more how this road makes us feel - it just does.

San Juan Goosenecks (2008)

Goosenecks State Park

We visited this State Park in 2008 and again in 2018. For this trip we opted not to take the time, firstly because it's not really worth the cost and secondly the same vista overlook from Muley Point is far superior. Nevertheless, the Goosenecks are pretty spectacular and it is also interesting to note that Goosenecks State Park is part of the Trail of the Ancients and one of the stops listed in the itinerary.

Painted Desert from Hwy 261 (2019)

Painted Desert

The Painted Desert seen in the Four Corners area runs from near the east end of Grand Canyon National Park and southeast into Petrified Forest National Park. The Painted Desert is known for its brilliant and varied colors, that not only include the more common red rock, but also shades of lavender. It was named by an expedition under Francisco Vázquez de Coronado on his 1540 expedition.

Mexican Hat (2008)

Mexican Hat Rock

We decided to head west on US Hwy 163 to the Mexican Hat Rock. This curiosity is named for it's resemblance to a sombrero, or a "Mexican Hat."

The rock rises above the west bank of the San Juan River. Mexican Hat is a caprock of Cedar Mesa sandstone atop a pedestal and talus cone of the Halgaito Formation, a bed of red shale and siltstone. (Oh boy! I'm getting quite good at "geology" talk.)

Bluff, Utah

The Town was founded in April 1880 by the famous "Hole in the Rock" expedition of Mormon pioneers, whose mission was to establish a farming community on the San Juan River. After forging about 200 miles of their own trail over difficult terrain, the weary settlers arrived at the site in April 1880. The pioneers built their cabins in close proximity to each other to form a fort. The town survived despite hostilities from Navajos, Utes, belligerent cattlemen, outlaws, and nature.

Bluff is located in the scenic and very sparsely-populated southeastern Utah canyonlands. The town was named for the bluffs near the town site.

Bluff is bordered on the south by the San Juan River and the Navajo Nation, to the east by farmland to the west by vast panoramic landscapes of Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley, and to the north, 300-foot sandstone bluffs, from which it derived its name. Bluff Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on November 2, 2995 as #95001273.

Desert Rose Inn (2010)

Desert Rose Inn

We registered at the Desert Rose Inn and quickly unloaded the car before heading to the Twin Rocks Cafe for dinner. Now all we had to do was simply relax and tour around the area. In 2008 we used Bluff as our home base as we visited the surrounding area. We will re-visit many of those areas again on this trip.

Fort Bluff Historic Site (2018)

Fort Bluff Historic Site

Before heading back to our hotel, we toured the Fort Bluff Historic Site. The grounds include actual wagons and other artifacts from the Hole in the Rock journey, the rebuilt old log meetinghouse, replicas of cabins, Ute and Navajo dwellings, the ruins of the Kumen Jones home, and the original Bluff Relief Society building. Hole in the Rock Foundation Bluff Fort Historic Site and Visitor Center

Post Note - Day Ten:

It was extremely difficult to document today's virtual drive down the Notom-Bullfrog Road as most of it is about the "geology of the Capitol Reef area". It took me a very long time and no matter how much I read, I couldn't wrap my head around the "Permian, Jurassic and Triassic" periods and the various "Formations". In the end, the "Loop the Fold Road Guide" that I ordered from Capital Reef National Park came to my rescue. This clear and concise booklet, complete with photos, really told me everything I needed to know. Although we've always marveled at the beauty of it all, we never really knew what we were looking at.

Once we were on the Burr Trail and heading to Lake Powell, we were back in familiar territory - so much so I didn't have any trouble describing the area and finding our own pictures taken from the many times in previous years that we've been in the area.

We will stay in the area now for a few days until we are ready to move on to the Colorado portion of the Trail of the Ancients.

Staying at the Desert Rose Inn is always a highlight of our trips. We do know that the cabins no longer have two beds (at least as of the last time I was there) but we will make them have two beds for us on this trip.


Day 11 - Bluff to Monument Valley, Arizona
Highways today were west on US Hwy 191, into the Sand Island Petroglyph site and back to US 191, then US 163 to the loop through Valley of the Gods, and south on State Hwy 261 back to US 163. We continued west on US 163, turned right into Gouldings, then back across US 163 into Monument Valley Tribal Park County Road 42. Google Map

Twin Rocks Cafe

First things first. Off to the Twin Rocks Cafe for breakfast. We also ordered lunch to go. The Cafe serves indigenous Native American dishes, including fry bread, chicken soup with homemade noodles, and Navajo tacos. Adjacent to the Cafe is the wonderful Twin Rocks Trading Post gift shop featuring Native American jewelry, baskets, rugs and housewares. Irresistible.

The Navajo Twins

Twin Rocks Cafe is named for the two towering Twin Rocks behind the Cafe. These geologic masterpieces are named for the mythical Hero Twins of Navajo legend. Sculpted by wind and water throughout many millennia, these towers have stood guard over numerous civilizations, the earliest of which was established in approximately 650 A.D. These silent sentinels now watch over a town of 250 modern day pioneers who choose to call Bluff home. Four Corners Region

The Navajo Twins (2007)

Sand Island Petroglyphs

The Sand Island panel stretches more than 100 yards, and is covered with ancient Anasazi markings, handprints, horned animals, hunters and numerous Kokopelli. They are estimated to be anywhere from 800 to 2,500 years old. The petroglyphs span nearly the whole time humans were known to inhabit the Four Corners area. The Sand Island Petroglyph Site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 11, 1981 as #81000585.

Sand Island Petroglyphs (Visit Utah)

Hobbs Wash Historical Marker - Bluff, Utah

About 6 miles west of Bluff, we stopped at the Hobbs Wash Historical Marker.

As winter storm approached, four nearly starved scouts, George Hobbs, George Morrill, Lemuel Redd, Sr. and George Sevey, sought shelter for the night in this area on December 27, 1879. The scouts were exploring for a feasible route for the 250 Mormon (Hole-in-the-Rock) pioneers to follow from their encampments above the Colorado River gorge 100 miles west of here. George Hobbs: "Night overtook us, we camped in this small canyon, this being our third day without food. I cut my name in the rock with the date I was there, not knowing that I would survive the journey." Erected by Hobbs Family. Hobbs Wash - Historical Marker Database.

Comb Ridge Historical Marker - Bluff Utah

One mile further down Hwy 163 we stopped at the Comb Ridge Historical Marker.

In 1880 Comb Ridge presented a major obstacle for the Mormon pioneers who were blazing a wagon road through the terribly rugged terrain between Escalante, Utah and the Four Corners Area. The 250 men, women and children of the expedition were fulfilling a "call" from their church to establish a settlement along the banks of the San Juan River.

When they reached the base of Comb Ridge, the Pioneers traveled south down Comb Wash to the San Juan River. At the juncture of the San Juan River (four miles south of here) they labored on a road over the southern slope of Comb Ridge which they named San Juan Hill. Weakened by past barriers and nearly six months under the most trying of circumstances, Comb Ridge proved nearly too much for their worn out wagons and teams. Within days of crossing over Comb Ridge, the pioneers began to establish their settlement, Bluff City. Erected by Hole-in-the-rock Association. Comb Ridge - Historical Marker Database.

Valley of the Gods (2010)

Valley of the Gods - 17 Mile Loop

Valley of the Gods is a scenic sandstone valley near Mexican Hat. It's tall, reddish brown mesas, buttes, towers and mushroom rocks are similar to those rock formations found in Monument Valley, but that is where the likeness ends. Valley of the Gods has no gimmicks, tacky gift shops, stores, gas stations, signs, human inhabitants or tourist facilities - just a unblemished display of an extraordinarily beautiful landscape.

Redesignation Under Dispute

Valley of the Gods was was formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument. On December 4, 2017, Trump issued a proclamation (which is still under dispute) reducing the area of Bears Ears National Monument, proclaimed by President Barack Obama in December 2016. The new boundary excluded the Valley of the Gods. The area, however, remains protected public land administered as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern and managed by the Bureau of Land Management, as it was before the monument designation.

Valley of the Gods (2007)
Valley of the Gods (2008)

US Highway 163

US Highway 163 runs 64 miles from the junction with US 191 just west of Bluff, Utah to the junction with US Highway 160 on the south side of Kayenta, Arizona. The southernmost 44 miles of its length are within the Navajo Nation. The highway forms part of the Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway. US Highway 163 cuts through the heart of Monument Valley.

Over the years, Monument Valley has been the setting for more Western movies than any other site in the United States. Many movies have footage in Monument Valley, including, just to name a few Thelma & Louise, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Easy Rider, Back to the Future III, Forrest Grump, and Mission Impossible.

Hwy 163 Monument Valley (2008)

Forrest Gump View Point - Hwy 163

The view of Hwy 163 heading west toward Monument Pass is probably one of the most photographed roads in the southwest. It is now known as Forrest Gump View Point. This is the point where Forrest Gump, after running for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days and 16 hours, suddenly stops and declares ""I'm pretty tired. I think I'll go home now."

If you know the area, you realize he's heading in the wrong direction - but who are we to question movie settings. We once saw a movie scene that featured a runaway semi truck barrelling out of control down the Moki Dugway on Hwy 261 (which in itself would be next to impossible) and finally splashing into the Colorado River at the bottom. The true bottom of the Moki Dugway is Valley of the Gods and the closest river is the San Juan - ten miles away. It is nowhere near the Colorado River - at least not within "splashing" distance.
Goulding's (2008)

Goulding's Museum & Trading Post

We stopped at Gouldings and toured the Museum and Trading Post. Goulding's is in the heart of Monument Valley. The backyard is a towering red wall that protects the buildings. It looks like pieces of it could crumble at any moment and crush what lies beneath. A museum is housed in the original Trading Post and home of Harry and Mike Goulding. The Gouldings made lifelong friends of the Navajo people.

Goulding's Trading Post Museum is comprised of several different areas: The Trading Post Bull Pen, The Ware Room filled with historical photographs and crafts, The Josef Muench Room featuring the artwork and photography of Mr. Muench, and The Movie Room filled with movie stills, call sheets, posters, and other items from Hollywood's Golden Age.

The upstairs living quarters have been restored to how Harry and Mike Goulding's home appeared in the late 1940's and 1950's. John Wayne's Cabin which was used as the personal quarters for the commanding officer in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. Goulding's Trading Post and Museum

Gouldings Trading Post was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 20, 1980 as #80003941.

Monument Valley Tribal Park

The parking lot hums with tour guides in vehicles. For the unsuspecting, it appears that you need some sort of all terrain vehicle or at least a beat up truck. However, brave as we are, we struck out unguided and hit the first wild, bumpy, rutted, steep and (maybe we shouldn't be doing this) road. Of course, we loved every minute of it. It wasn't long before everything smoothed out and we toured on the park's 17 mile road for several hours. Map of Monument Valley Loop

The Mittens and Merrick Butte (2008)

The Mittens

Probably the most photographed view in Monument Valley is that of the Mittens. When viewed from the south, they appear to be two giant mittens with their thumbs facing inwards. West Mitten Butte is 1 mile from park headquarters. The summit of West Mitten Butte is 6,176 feet and East Mitten Butte is 6,226 feet in elevation. The Mittens form a triangle with Merrick Butte.

John Ford Point (2008)

John Ford Point

Harry invited movie director John Ford to Monument Valley to view the landscape for use in films. John Ford Point was used in a scene from The Searchers where an American Indian village is attacked. Film director John Ford used Monument Valley as a location for many Westerns between 1939 (Stagecoach) and 1960.

North Window (2008)

North Window

Elephant Butte and Cly Butte create a picture frame for East Mitten Butte, 3 miles to the north. The parking area is just off the main road and there is a short hike to the gap. From this angle, you cannot see the thumb of the Mitten. North Window is another most photographed stop on the loop.

Monument Valley (2008)
Monument Valley (2008)

Dreamcatcher Evening Experience

We decided to book this tour. This was something new for us. After all the years whizzing by the Park, we decided to stay and take in the Dreamcatcher Evening Experience.

For the most part, the first two hours of the tour followed what we did this afternoon with the exception of Big Hogan Arch, the Sun's Eye Arch, the Ear of the Wind Arch, petroglyphs, and the Totem Pole. At the Navajo Hogan there was a demonstration of how the Navajo prepare their wool and their craft of rug weaving.

Once the sun started to set, we had a sit down Navajo dinner near Rain God Mesa and then Navajo dancing performance and storytelling around the campfire. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day.

Gouldings Lodge

Another new treat for us. We are actually staying in Monument Valley for the night. By the time we did the two tours through Monuments Valley, we were ready to head back to the hotel and relax. It took me forever to download the pictures that Karen took today. I think she beat her 2008 record.

We sat out on the balcony off our room and just "listened to the silence" and "star gazed". It was too dark to see the Valley, but we knew it was out there. We will have the perfect view in the morning.

Post Note - Day Eleven:

Today was just so easy. We've been on US Hwy 163 between Bluff, Valley of the Gods, and Monument Valley so many times we could almost describe it mile by mile. While searching through our pictures for this virtual trip, I stumbled on the picture we have of Karen standing on the passenger seat straight up through the sun roof to capture the view heading toward Monument Pass - now known as Forrest Gump View Point. The picture she took from that vantage point is the one I used for our Hwy 163 picture today.

There are a couple of new things we "virtually" did. First of all staying at Goulding Lodge for the night is something we've talked about but never done. The second difference is booking ourselves into a tour. We rarely take tours unless we feel we could not see everything without it. Also, it seemed rather unrealistic to repeat in the evening tour what we just did in the afternoon, but the rug weaving demonstration, Navajo dinner, dance show, and campfire just seemed like a good way to end the day.

On a side note. The picture at the top of this website is from our 2008 visit to Monument Valley.


Day 12 - Monument Valley to Canyon de Chelly, Arizona
Highways today were US 163 south to Kayenta, County 591 to the Vendor's Village and back, east on US 160, south on Indian Route 59 to Many Farms, south on US 191 to Chinle and east on Indian Route 7 to Canyon de Chelly (pronounced "de Shay"). Before touring the Monument, we headed east on Indian Route 64 (North Rim Drive) to Massacre Cave Overlook and back to the Thunderbird Lodge in the Monument. Google Map

Kayenta Vendor's Village

We visited the Kayenta Vendor's Village to pick up our trip dreamcatchers. Mine has red in it and Karen's has blue - to match our car colours. Of course. Karen also bought some turquoise earrings and other jewelry gifts for the girls.

Before leaving town, we crossed over Hwy 160 and stopped at Burger King for lunch.

Navajo Code Talkers - Kayenta

Hidden inside the Kayenta Burger King is an in-depth exhibit on the famed WWII counterintelligence program. In 1986, the Kayenta Burger King opened. It was owned and operated by the son of a Navajo Code Talker, Richard Mike. Mike decided to put the war memorabilia he had collected from his father on display in his new restaurant. "We have here in Kayenta more Code Talker memorabilia than the Pentagon does," Mike said in an interview. Burger King Navajo Code Talkers

Fort Wingate, N.M. 1942
(U.S. National Archives and Records)

Navajo is a unique tonal language, mutually unintelligible with even its closest linguistic relatives. The first Navajo Language Dictionary was not produced until 1943, making Navajo a particularly good language for speaking in code. The Marines recruited several young men (29 in the first class), pulling them out of reservation boarding school and working with them to build the eventual code. The original 29 Navajo Code Talkers were sworn in at Wingate, N.M. in 1942.

Navajo code talkers were recognized as skilled and accurate. The Navajo Code was never broken, and technically remained a state secret until the Vietnam War-era.

The Navajo code talkers received no recognition until 1968 when their operation was declassified. In 1982, the Code Talkers were given a Certificate of Recognition by US President Ronald Reagan, who also named August 14, 1982 as Navajo Code Talkers Day. In 2001, the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and all others were awarded Congressional Silver Medals.

Chester Nez, 93, the last of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers, passed away on June 4, 2014 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Navajo Shadehouse Museum, Kayenta

Between the Burger King and Hampton Inn is the Navajo Shadehouse Museum - a self guided tour with open air exhibits explaining Navajo religious beliefs and customs, including a mud-covered sweathouse and two traditional Navajo dwelling known as hogans. The center also features native craftspeople, ceremonial dances and storytelling.

Kayenta Hogan (Waymarking)

Two walk-in hogans - traditional Navajo dwellings and ceremonial sites - reflect the importance of parental protection, in both the literal and spiritual sense.

Interesting to note is that hogans built with vertical, leaning, teepee shaped log walls that shed rain and withstand wind are "male," protecting inhabitants like a father. The round or palisaded hogans, made of horizontally stacked logs curving inward to form a domed roof are is considered "female" because it cares for those within like a mother.

Highway US 160 - Church Rock

U.S. Route 160 travels east/west across the Navajo Nation and Northeast Arizona. The vast majority runs through rural and sparsely populated sections. Most of US 160 in Arizona is also known as the Navajo Trail.

Once we headed east on hwy 160 we were in pretty barren land. Stuck in the middle of nowhere is Church Rock. It is located 7.5 miles east of Kayenta near the mouth of Church Rock Valley.

Church Rock (Wikipedia)

Thunderbird Lodge and Trading Post, Canyon de Chelly

We arrived mid afternoon and booked into the Navajo owned and operated Thunderbird Lodge, the only hotel actually located within Canyon De Chelly National Monument. The hotel also took care of our Sunset Tour reservation. The Lodge sits on the site of a trading post built in 1896, and its cafeteria-style restaurant is located in the trading post's original building. Adorning the walls of the dining room are excellent examples of Navajo Rugs and artwork available for purchase.

The Thunderbird Lodge Trading Post and rug room sells some of the regions finest Native American jewelry, crafts and Navajo rugs as well as mementos, clothing and other items.

Canyon de Chelly, Arizona

Canyon de Chelly National Monument (pronounced "de Shay") was established on April 1, 1931 to preserve the archeological resources that span more than 4,000 years of human occupation. The monument, located entirely on the Navajo Nation, covers 83,840 acres and encompasses the floors and rims of the three major canyons: de Chelly, del Muerto, and Monument. Canyon de Chelly National Monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 25, 1970 as #70000066.

Canyon de Chelly - Edward Curtis (1904)

Throughout the history of Canyon de Chelly, paleo-Indians, ancient puebloans, Hopi and Navajo have lived here. Ancient Puebloans built stone villages under sheltered overhangs. The Hopi lived and farmed on the canyon floor, but all that remains of their time are petroglyphs chipped in the walls. The Navajo first occupied the canyon 600 years ago.

The Battle of Canyon de Chelly

The Battle of Canyon de Chelly was fought in 1864. It precipitated the Long Walk and was the final major military engagement between the Navajo and the Americans. The battle ended with the fall of the main Navajo settlements of Canyon de Chelly.

At the time of the American Civil War, the Navajo Nation was the largest in the Southwest. Colonel Kit Carson had been waging a campaign against the Navajos destroying homes, food and supplies. Brigadier General James H. Carleton ordered Carson into the Navajo stronghold in Canyon de Chelly.

Colonel Kit Carson sent troops through the canyon, killing 23 Indians, seizing 200 sheep, and destroying hogans, as well as peach orchards and other crops. The Navajo in Canyon de Chelly had already suffered attacks from Ute warriors. The raids by the Utes and soldiers had taken its toll on some of the Navajos. The destruction of the Navajo camps, crops and supplies came at a crucial time for the Navajo. Cold, hungry and tired, many realized they would not be killed by the soldiers if they came in peacefully. By the summer of 1864 Carson had accepted the largest Native American surrender in history. Nearly 8,000 people had surrendered and were soon moved to the Bosque Redondo reservation. The deadly journey became known as "The Long Walk of the Navajo".

The Long Walk of the Navajo

The "Long Walk" started in the beginning of spring 1864. Bands of Navajo led by the Army were relocated from their traditional lands in eastern Arizona Territory and western New Mexico Territory to Fort Sumner (in an area called the Bosque Redondo) in the Pecos River Valley. The march was very difficult and pushed many Navajos to their breaking point, including death.

The Long Walk of the Navajo

They were never informed as to where they were going, why they were being relocated, and how long it would take to get there. The distance itself was cruel, but the fact that they did not receive any aid from the soldiers was devastating. Not every person was able to trek 400 miles. Many began the walk exhausted and malnourished, others were not properly clothed. Many died during the Long Walk and with the conditions at Fort Sumner being equally grim, many others perished there as well.

Finally, after four years of captivity, the first reservation "experiment" the U.S. government used to manage the Navajo population was deemed unsuccessful, and the Navajo were permitted to return to their land in Canyon de Chelly - the "Long Walk" home. This is one of the few instances where the U.S. government permitted a tribe to return to their home lands.

North Rim Drive - Indian Hwy 64

Before heading to our Sunset Tour, we drove the North Rim Drive. The North Rim Drive overlooks Canyon del Muerto. The North Rim is a little over 15 miles to the last overlook. It over overlooks several historically significant sites within the canyon. Ledge Ruins Overlook is closed due to safety problems. North Rim Drive

Antelope House Overlook - 8.5 Miles

The Antelope House ruin, below a vertical, 600 foot cliff, takes its name from the antelope paintings on a nearby cliff wall. Beneath the ruins of Antelope House, archaeologists have found the remains of an earlier pit house dating from A.D. 693.

Across the wash from Antelope House, an ancient tomb, known as the Tomb of the Weaver, was discovered by archaeologists in the 1920's.

Antelope House Ruins (Wikipedia)

Mummy Cave Overlook - 13.2 Miles

Mummy Cave is named for two mummies found in burial urns below the ruins. Archaeological evidence indicates that this giant amphitheater consisting of two caves was occupied from 300 A.D. to 1300 A.D. Between the two caves are 80 rooms, a three story structure, and three kivas. Much of the original plasterwork is still intact and indicates that the buildings were colorfully decorated.

Mummy Cave (American Southwest)

Massacre Cave Overlook - 13.2 Miles

Massacre Cave Overlook has short paths to two viewpoints - Massacre Cave and Yucca Cave. Massacre Cave was named after an 1805 Spanish military expedition killed more than 115 Navajos at this site. Accounts of the massacre differ. One version says there were only women and children. The Spanish version says there were 90 warriors and 25 women and children. Also visible from this overlook is Yucca Cave, which was occupied about 1,000 years ago.

Massacre Cave (American Southwest)

Sunset Tour - Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Access to the floor of Canyon de Chelly is restricted. You must be accompanied by an authorized guide. The shake-and-bake tours are in rugged military-type trucks. We figured the 4 hour, 24 mile sunset tour might be a bit cooler and we hoped the "shake" part wasn't too bone jerking. The tour makes frequent photograph stops at the ruins, Navajo farms, and rock art.

The tour gave us a new perspective from the valley floor of the cliff dwellings we viewed from the North Rim Drive this afternoon. To it were added more dwellings and petroglyphs that are not visible from the Rim Drives.

White House Ruin

The White House, below a sheer 600 foot desert varnish cliff on the south side of Canyon de Chelly, is one of the most famous ancient dwellings in the Monument - a two-level dwelling with one part on the valley floor and the other in an alcove 50 up the cliff.

The White House was occupied between 1060 A.D. and 1275 A.D. It is named for the white plaster used to coat the long back wall in the upper dwelling.

White House Ruin (2008)

Spider Rock

The park's distinctive geologic feature, Spider Rock, is a sandstone spire that rises 750 feet from the canyon floor. At one time it was connected to the ridge between Canyon de Chelly and Monument Canyon. The erosion process worked at different rates along the ridge, leaving Spider Rock behind. According to traditional Navajo beliefs, the taller of the two spires is the home of Spider Grandmother.

Spider Rock (Wikipedia)

Spider Grandmother

Spider Grandmother (Hopi Kokyangwuti, Navajo Na'ashjé'ii Asdzáá) is an important figure in the mythology, oral traditions and folklore of many Native American cultures, especially in the Southwestern United States.

When she is called upon, she will help people in many ways, such as giving advice or providing medicinal cures. "Spider Grandmother" is seen as a leader, a wise individual who represents good things - a constant helper and protector of humans. She spent time on the the rock aptly named Spider Rock.

Pictographs and Petroglyphs

Canyon de Chelly National Monument preserves the distinct architecture, artifacts, and rock imagery of the Archaic people (2500-200 B.C.), the Basketmakers (200 B.C.-A.D. 750), the Pueblo (750-1300), the Hopi (1300-1600s), the Navajo (1700-present), and the Spanish interactions with these peoples. Their history is documented by hundreds of images etched and painted on the canyon walls.

Kokopelli Cave Petroglyphs

The petroglyph panel from Kokopelli Cave shows several hand prints, a snake, as well as two human-like Kokopelli - one playing the flute while lying on its back.

Kokopelli is a fertility deity, usually depicted as a humpbacked flute player (often with feathers or antenna-like protrusions on his head). Like most fertility deities, Kokopelli presides over both childbirth and agriculture. He is also a trickster god and represents the spirit of music.

Kokopelli Cave Petroglyphs (Wikipedia)

The Spaniards

This procession of riders astride horses is believed be a Navajo rendering of Spaniards. Painted directly onto the rock face in the Canyon de Chelly, both animals and their riders appear in silhouette. Specific details—the cloaks and hats (some white, some colored with red), the rifles and cross—suggest the painter observed this party of travelers with keen eyes. This procession is thought to represent the punitive expedition led by Antonio Narbona against Navajos in 1805.

The Spaniards (Wikipedia)

Post Note - Day Twelve:

Today took a very long time. It was just so informative, I had trouble moving along. We've travelled this route before so it was really an eye-opener to find out some things about the area we have missed. Who knew there was a Navajo Code Talkers display in the Burger King in Kayenta and a Hogan Display in the parking lot? We have never stayed in the Hampton Inn right next door so just by fate - we missed it. We've seen other Code Talkers Exhibits in our travels, but doing in depth research about the Navajo Code Talkers was quite amazing.

Once we arrived in Canyon de Chelly, I dug out our old pictures from 2011. We had some excellent ones from the South Rim White House Overlook but nothing from the North Rim. What we couldn't do (without going on a tour) is get close to the various ruins and petroglyphs.

I'm not sure, in reality, if we would take the "shake and bake" tour. Probably not. I don't like to be jerked around. Memories of Universal Studios and Alaska come to mind! Since a virtual tour is "free", I was tempted today to rent our very own "private" tour of the Valley - but the "shake and bake" sounded a little more exciting (and virtually I wouldn't get jerked senseless).

The last time we were in Canyon de Chelly, it was so hot we could hardly breathe. We watched as hikers wove their way down to the White House Ruins and almost "perished" in sympathy for them.

Tomorrow we head back to Bluff to continue with the Utah portion of the Trail of the Ancients.

To Page 2 - Canyon de Chelly to Calgary

Trail of the Ancients - Utah
Trail of the Ancients - Colorado
San Juan Skyway - Colorado


Reference and Maps

Covid 19 Information

The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in January 2020 and a pandemic in March 2020.

Recommended preventive measures included social distancing, wearing face masks in public, ventilation and air-filtering, hand washing, covering one's mouth when sneezing or coughing, disinfecting surfaces, and monitoring and self-isolation for people exposed or symptomatic.

Authorities worldwide have responded by implementing travel restrictions, lockdowns, workplace hazard controls, and facility closures. Borders - closed; international travel - halted; schools and businesses - closed; sports and churches - shut down. The home became the workplace. All entertainment and personal events including club meetings, weddings, baptisms, and even funerals were cancelled.

The response to the pandemic has resulted in global social and economic disruption, including the largest global recession since the Great Depression.

As of March 31, 2021, more than 130 million cases have been confirmed, with more than 2.8 million deaths attributed to COVID-19. And, it's far from over yet.

As of December 21, 2021, more than 290 million cases have been confirmed world wide with more than 5.44 million deaths.

Karen and I both caught Covid so we both part of the statistics. As of June 2022 cases are no longer being reported. With rapid test available to everyone, and no requirements to report positivie cases, the cases are just being estimated based on hospitalizations and deaths.

As of December 2021, there are five dominant variants of Covid spreading among global populations: the Alpha varient, the Beta variant, the Gamma variant, the Delta variant and the Omicron variant. Each varient is getting weaker with less hospitalizations and deaths.

On my final posting in June 2022, there are 539 million cases worldwide and 6.32 million deaths.

Covid Statistics

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