Southern Utah Wanderings | Day 1

Saturday, October 3, 2009 | Starting Odometer: 143517

I woke up early on Saturday morning, finished loading up the Jeep and then headed out for a quick breakfast with Amanda before starting on my week-long trip to Southern Utah. After breakfast I hopped onto I-70 west and made my way to Green River and then south to Hanksville, where I topped off my fuel tank and filled my extra gas containers, just in case. Heading further west on UT24 I soon reached Capitol Reef National Park and decided to stop at the Visitor’s Center to see if they had any maps or books I was interested in. The park and Visitor’s Center was very busy, so i quickly looked around and then got out of there. There were lots of different license plates from all over the country seen in the parking lot, but the majority seemed to be from California. I wanted to get a quick overview of the park, so that I could plan a winter visit here with Amanda; when it should be less crowded. I ended up taking the ‘Scenic Drive’ that ended in Capitol Gorge. It was a nice scenic drive alright, but there were still too many people around for my taste. I will need to bring Amanda back in the winter so we can do some hiking an exploring with less people around.

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A few photos from within Capitol Gorge…

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This one was taken along the ‘Scenic Drive’ on my way back to the highway.
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After finishing up the ‘Scenic Drive’, I needed to get away from the crowds. I headed back east on UT24 again and left the park. I turned off at the Fremont River ford, so that I could make my way north towards Cathedral Valley. When I reached the ford, I found two pickups stopped and trying to figure out how to cross. They watched me cross the Fremont to gauge just how deep the river was (the water level didn’t even come halfway up my tires). Later along the trail when I stopped for some photographs at the Bentonite Hills, one of those trucks caught up to me and I found out the other party turned around and headed back instead of crossing the river.

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An old drilling rig along the road.
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The Bentonite Hills
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A little further along the trail I took the side spur trail to the Lower South Desert Overlook and took the short hike.

Jailhouse Rock in the South Desert from the lower overlook
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Hiking out to this overlook
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After the hike, I tried to make my way over to the Cathedral Valley campground where I hoped to spend the night. However, just before reaching the campground I met up with that same truck that I passed at the ford again, and this time he had two new people in the bed. He was surprised to see me again, as he figured I was well ahead of him, not realizing I had stopped to take a hike. It turns out that the two people in the bed of his truck had hiked to the Upper South Desert Overlook and when they returned to their truck, it would not start. They wanted to know if I had jumper cables. Since I always like to be prepared for anything, I of course had some. We headed back to their truck, hooked up the cables, and did manage to get their vehicle started. I had done my good deed for the day 🙂

I finally made my way back to the campground and was happy to see that only one of the six sites was taken. I picked out a site and quickly setup camp. I wanted to get back out before sunset and get some photos. My first stop was the Upper South Desert Overlook again, where I took the half mile hike to a pretty cool overlook.

Final hike to the Upper South Desert Overlook
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Crack in the rock and the Henry Mountains in the distance
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Next I made my way over to the Cathedral Valley Overlook. I hung around here for a while and then decided to head down into Cathedral Valley for sunset. Unfortunately, some clouds ended up rolling in shortly before sunset.

Cathedral Valley from the overlook
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Down in Cathedral Valley
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Just before the sun set, i ended up heading back up to the Upper South Desert Overlook again.

Self portrait
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After sunset, I headed back to camp, had a bite to eat, did a little reading and was fast asleep pretty early.

Ending Odometer: 143789 | Total Miles: 272


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