Mike and all other Ed4 Members, With tanks full of petrol, my friend, Anton, and I set off for this year’s adventure jeeping in and around Moab, Utah. With my Rubicon on its 14 foot trailer behind my Cummins powered Dodge, a bag full of Esprit de Cprps shirts, and a truckload of fun expectations, we followed Interstate 80 eastbound. I do so love to go tripping!
We crossed the snow covered Sierras and stayed with retired friends of ours in Reno. It was god to renew old acquaintances and catch up with one anothers’ lives. Reno, by the way, has annexed all the way to Boomtown—to grab tax dollars from the big Cabella’s there.
Across the Nevada eastern sagebrush plains we cruise, with audio comfort (country music) radio, 750 AM while we enjoy the small farms and scattered communities that comprise eastern Nevada. Overnight in Elko, Nevada where we feasted on an ethnic (the real thing) Basque meal at the Star and Bar Family Restaurant. You just cannot eat it all. As we surveyed available restaurants in Elko on Anton’s Apple phone/computer, we read re the King’s Buffet, “Avoid this place. Nonedible food served here!” Wow!!!!! We eschewed the place!
Through Wendover, Nevada and into Utah. The great salt basin awaits the traveler, all the way to Salt Lake City. We’d just begun when the winds kicked up, and a whiteout happened. Very fine salt and alkalai dust covered the windshield, nearly obscuring all ability to see ahead. Big rig trucks only fifty yards ahead disappeared in the whiteout. Fortunately, the wind ceased blowing, and we could see to continue. We did NOT have to pull over and wait out the windstorm.
We overnighted in Orem, Utah, before continuing on via highway 70 through central Utah. After a potty stop at the Skull Valley Station (Love that name!), we made it into Moab, Utah. High 60’s and low 70s all the while we were in the area, with gusty winds.
We spent one day in Arches National Park, photographing and hiking. The hike up the slickrock mountain to the Delicate Arch was about all I wanted to handle! Near the top, we traversed the “Inca Trail”, a narrow ledge wrapping itself around the sandstone mountain. With sheer walls of stone on the inside, and several hundred feet of drop on the outside, it was interesting walking. Hang on to whatever you don’t want to lose to the wind gusts! At the top, the most famous arch in Utah awaits. It sits at one end of a semicircular bowl that drains at a steep slant to a lip where one could fall hundreds of feet to waiting rocks below. Balanced rock, Courthouse Rock, Park Avenue, and a myriad of other beautiful sights await those who venture into Arches National Park.
With scenic driving up the Colorado River for the first 30 to 40 miles, we crossed the river and headed up the mountain to run the Dome Plateau run. Obscacles in the desert included serious stairsteps in gullies, and the challenge of staying on the route. Side roads go everywhere, and were NOT mentioned in the guidebook we were using. Caution!!
Our most interesting run was to the south of the Canyonlands National Park. 70 miles from Moab, we turned onto highway 111 and entered the Needles area of the park. 32 miles later, we came to a private gas station and market (the ONLY one in the world!) where we paid $5.00 to top off our tanks before starting the Elephant Hill Trail. This would be a great Club run!! Rated difficult, but not prohibitively so, it has something for everyone!! We zigzagged our way up the first hill, and traversed a drive in and back down where the turn is too sharp to do going forewards. That was cool! We soon came to the “squeeze rock” passage. Barely enough room for a Jeep to pass, and about a hundred yards of the squeeze to do (mirrors folded in). Some stretches of relaxing trail lead to the silver stairs ledges, and miles farther, a side spur was taken that led us to a parking area at the end of the trail. A half mile hike took us up, over and down to an overlook above the confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers. Very nice from about 1000 feet above the confluence. Next, we drove the last part of the Elephant Hill trail loop, and returned to Moab.
During our driving in the Needles area, we saw one herd of deer numbering at least 250 members in no more than a quarter of a mile of roadside. We also saw REAL cowboys a hundred miles from anywhere herding twenty cows or so along the meadow adjacent to our road of travel. Can you say real Americana?!!! Photos of all we saw were, of course, regularly taken.
Unfortunately, we did not hook up with Tom Vella in Moab, so we did not get to do a run together. Our days there only included Sunday in Moab at the same time.
A two foot deep snowfall blanketed all of central Utah and most of Highway 70. Not inclined to drive with chains on for 500 miles, we fled tthe snow by going south into Arizona. Highways 191, 160, 98, and 89, brought us via Monument Valley, to Zion National Park. We stayed two nights while enjoying the scenic views and hikes around the park. The Emerald Pools hike was the best we took by far. A waterfall drops about 100 or more feet from a curtving ledge into the emerald colored pool below. The trail goes behind the waterfall maybe fifty feet or so, and one can look down the stream from behind the waterfall. We stayed in the Desert Pearl Motel, however, there are mumerous RV and camping parks in Springdale, Utah (the city within Zion National Park—but not part of the park) a traveler could use.
Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell were great sights to see during our driving to Zion. We also got to see a herd of buffalo, a flock of wild turkeys, and a herd of deer right near the entrance to the mile long, windowed tunnel you must take to enter Zion National Park from the direction we used. It costs $25 for a car and $40 for our truck with trailer/jeep to use the tunnel. Very worth it I’d say!
We concluded our trip with two nights in Las Vegas and one in Ventura before driving home up Highway 101. The monorail, the Stratosphere, and the views of the “strip” were good. A night at the German HofBrau House with good food and drinks in Las Vegas plus prime rib at Lowery’s House of Prime Rib topped off the trip.
We returned tired but satisfied. The wheeling, the sights, and the people we met made it a great vacation. Next year, we’re thinking of a trip to Silverton, Colorado and those very high altitude zigzags in the trail. Anyone interested? It would be nice to coordinate it with others.