Originally we planned to travel through Nevada and central California for the month of March. Instead we caught a nasty case of the flu that laid us out for a solid three weeks. Come the 23rd, we were just barely feeling well enough to get the heck out of dodge and had 10 days left to enjoy before needing to be back in CO. With no plans but a heavy craving to go camping, we packed up, got in the truck and headed west. There was zero plan, no destination but 10 days later we had another unforgettable trip under our belt. Here’s how it unfolded…
We never get an early start our first day so, when traveling West, we almost always stop at McInnis Canyons National Recreation Area. It’s a beautiful area about 3 hours from our house that always makes for a great first night. Until this trip. We showed up, picked a spot and noticed that it was quite breezy. Within minutes of parking, a swift 30-40 mph wind picked up and created a wall of dirt that quickly engulfed our camp. Oh how I wish I would have taken a video clip to share. We got back in the truck and set out to find a better option, ending up at Highline Lake State Park outside Fruita.
The next day we packed up and set off down I-70, stopping for burgers at Ray’s Tavern in Green River. We’ve found that the more spontaneous stops made, the better the road trip.
We exited I-70 at Highway 24 with the intention of heading South and check out Goblin Valley State Park but when we looked North we spotted a dirt road begging to be explored so explore is what we did. We meandered around a bit until settling on the spot below. We had hoped to get closer to San Rafeal Reef but not all roads go where you hope they will. This would have been a fine spot aside from the wind that found us once again. From the moment we arrived it just got more and more windy. Waking up to 40mph winds does not make for a peaceful camping trip but wind during spring in Utah came as no surprise. Frustrated and not wanting to take the time to drive to an entirely new region of the country, we toyed with the idea of calling the trip a bust and going home. But going home was not an option, we knew we could find something better.
We wanted to see more of San Rafael Reef so we set off to find Temple Mountain Road. This turned out to be a gorgeous scenic drive that connects I-70 and Highway 24. We spotted several phenomenal campsites overlooking the reef and valley below but the wind was relentless. We decided to press on a few hours South to Stanton Creek Campground on the shores of Lake Powell in hopes of finding solace from the elements.
Kaia’s always hopeful that we’re going somewhere GREAT.
When we got to Powell, I looked at Mark and said “Do you see the water? It’s still.”. Then I tried really hard to not get too excited. Stanton Creek Campground is made up of a few miles of shoreline where you’re free to park and set up camp just about anywhere. We spent a good hour seeking out the perfect spot. We wanted to try our best to position ourselves out of the wind…just in case. Here’s where we ended up:
No wind! Back to being a happy camper.
That night Mark captured this shot of the moonlit sky. See the bright light on the horizon? That’s Mars. Pretty cool, huh?
With the lack of wind, we weren’t about to leave.
Mark enjoying a delicious meal in our multi-purpose camping utility trailer.
I think the vibrant colors and the contrast of the water against the red rock is what draws me to Lake Powell like a moth to a flame.
The last time we were here two years ago, the spot we’re currently parked in was under water evident by the water line on the surrounding rocks. This environment is changing at a rapid pace and I feel lucky to have enjoyed the lake at it’s prime many years ago.
Beside a fire, beneath the stars, there is no better place to be in the world.
It was now Saturday when Stanton Creek Campground turns from a remote retreat in to a popular attraction for all types of people. We quickly became surrounded by campers and decided it was time to move on. It was time for others to enjoy the perfection that we had.
We had no idea where we wanted to go but the ferry was running and it sounded like fun. So that’s what we did. It took us from Bullfrog Marina to Halls Crossing Marina. In other words, from middle of nowhere Utah to middle of nowhere Utah.
It was a truly beautiful driving day. Stunning scenery around every bend. When Highway 95 took us to Comb Ridge, Mark began scouring the map for a place to camp. He found a road that appeared to be on top of the ridge, alongside the cliff so we sought it out and hoped for the best.
We were rewarded with this:
It was Saturday and there were only two spots on this road that overlooked the valley below. We were the only ones around.
When you find a spot like this, all life’s worries melt away. You can’t help but simply live in the moment and appreciate the grandeur that surrounds you.
Mark, being the pilot that he is, couldn’t help but admire the steady ridge lift from the wind hitting the cliff and consequently rising above it. The perfect spot for a little RC glider flight.
The best part was, we were just close enough to the edge of the cliff that we were blocked from the wind.
With such great ridge lift, Mark was shocked there were no gliders or paragliders flying in the area. Then came this guy. The motor was off, he was silent and flying solely off the ridge lift. Had we not seen him coming, he would have scared the bejeezus out of me.
He did several passes providing us our entertainment for the night.
A few days later we set off to Monticello to restock supplies and stopped for a bite at The Peace Tree Cafe, an awesome find in rural Utah. I absolutely love small town restaurants. The character can’t be beat.
While in Monticello we looked over the forecast and saw high winds expected across Western Colorado and Eastern Utah starting the next day. We decided to end our trip on a good note and make our way home.
But our trip wouldn’t end there. In our effort to avoid interstates, we looked for a new route back to Colorado and discovered a magical part of the state we’d never heard of…the Dolores River Valley. From Highway 191 in Utah, we took Highway 46 in to Colorado. (Utah hwy 46 became Colorado hwy 90) After passing the state line we came to the scene below. Snow-capped peaks and red rock canyons as far as the eye could see.
From Bedrock, Colorado we took a left on Y11 Road to follow the Dolores River over to Highway 141.
The Dolores River as seen from Highway 141.
Off Highway 141 we found this spot. A nice, quiet place to call home for our last night.
The beauty of the Dolores River Valley really blew us away. I imagine we’ll be back soon.
There you have it. If you’ve ever wondered how, why or where we do what we do, maybe now you have a little better idea why setting off on the open road and seeing what’s out there to be discovered is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
And…sometimes the best plan is having no plan at all.