A Trip to Southeast Utah - Part Two

June 05, 2014  •  2 Comments

The next morning of our trip was a drive up Potash Rd/Shafer Trail.  This road starts north of Moab and ends on the Island of the Sky plateau in Canyonlands National Park.  The first part of the road travels down-river on the Colorado until it reaches a potash plant.  From the potash plant to the plateau it is a dirt road mostly wide enough for just one vehicle. 

As we proceeded down the paved portion along the Colorado River, we came upon some petroglyphs on a cliff face not ten feet from the road, supposedly created by the ancient Fremont Indians.  Images included man-like figures and animals.  A short time later we found an a small arch, also adjacent to the road called Jughandle Arch, named because it is long and narrow along the side of a cliff.

Driving down the road a bit more, we came to the potash plant.  Here we found some ponds with the oddest color of blue water either of us had ever seen.  Later, John found out from an employee of Motel 6, whose uncle worked at the potash plant that dye was put into the water to make it evaporate faster so the potash could be harvested earlier.

Continuing up the road, we mostly took in the sights stopping to shoot images whenever one of us saw something interesting.  It wasn't too long before we arrived at the drop-off that Thelma and Louise drove off in the movie Thelma and Louise.  There were several Jeeps there.  A group of people were on a jeep outing.  We had seen them earlier and tried our best to let them get well ahead of us but they were all lined up along the point.  It was not long before they left and John and I were able to take some shots.  When we left the area, we made a wrong turn and ended up on a narrow ridge above the Colorado River.  John had to get out of the truck and help me turn around - had my camper shell on and I was a bit nervous about backing up.

It was not long before we found ourselves gaining in altitude and we started to climb the Island in the Sky.  The road was good but narrow with few turnouts if we met a vehicle coming from the opposite direction.  On one of the hairpin curves I misjudged a bit and thought we may have to back up in the middle of the turn - did not relish that.  Luckily, we made the turn, missing the wall of the cliff by a couple of inches.  It was not long before we arrived at the top and headed back to Moab on the pavement.

                                                                                      Eastward View From Shafer Trail

Later that afternoon we headed for Arches National Park.  Neither John or I were particularly interested in shooting images of the iconic arches but we did enjoy the drive thru the park and stopping at several places to shoot.  At one of the towers we stopped to photograph, two people were rapelling.  It was pretty cool.  We arrived near the end of the loop drive thru the park just as the sun was beginning to set.  After shooting for a while we met another photographer by the name of Bill who was just wandering around the Desert Southwest in his truck.  He had left the little woman at home and was looking for places to shoot.  He had three weeks to kill.  John and I told him of some cool places to visit and then headed out for supper.

We ended up eating at a Susie's Branding Iron Restaurant, a short drive to the south of Moab.  What a great place - seemed geared more to the locals than all the touristy places in Moab.  It was the kind of place where the waitress refers to you as honey, does not tell you her name and that she will be your server tonight.  I had fried chicken that was excellent and John  had either a steak or brisket.

We left Moab the next morning on our way to Goblin Valley.  John had previously been to a place called Sego Canyon and wanted me to see it, so that is where we headed.  At the mouth of Sego Canyon is an old railroad stop called Thompson's Spring.  There are a few residences but not much is there anymore.  Heading into Sego Canyon, we found evidence of mining and some pictographs and petroglyphs created by the ancient Fremont natives and the Ute tribe of Utah.  John and I were befuddled by some structures in the canyon which we thought might be a water or rail line for the miners.  John later found out that it  was the remnants of a small-scale rail line.

                                                                        Abandoned House in Thompson's Spring, Utah

 Pictographs in Sego Canyon, Utah.  Pictographs are painted images while petroglyphs are etched into the rock

Soon, we were on the road again for Hanksville, Utah.  The main "tourist attraction" in Hanksville is the Hollow Mountain store.  The store is carved into the side of a cliff.  The main section of the store has a regular ceiling but if you go in the back, you can see the rock roof.  Here we got some coffee and bought a couple of books.  Later, we drove in and around Hanksville and shot some images of old buildings and an older log home that had been moved into town.

Later in the afternoon, we struck out for Goblin Valley.  It has really changed since my last visit there with my son, Brian.  The road is now paved, you must pay to get into the park and there are modern camping facilities.  It was actually kind of disappointing until we got to Goblin Valley itself.  The cloud cover was good but the threat of rain was in the air.  I hiked down into the valley and was pretty overwhelmed by all the photographic opportunities.  After about 30 minutes or so, it started to drizzle rain so we headed back to Hanksville to check into our motel.  My plans are to return to Goblin Valley, camp a few nights and really take advantage of the place.  At the motel, we met a young couple who were, if I remember correctly, from Canada.  They were bicycling across the US and were hoping to get up to Alaska before heading home.  They were really interesting.

That night we ate at Duke's Slick Rock in Hanksville.  I had a BLT and John had either a steak or brisket.  They served us some corn cakes with a butter honey combination that was pretty delicious.  Another good place to eat.

The next morning we ate at a diner/convenience store next door to the motel.  As part of the price for the motel, they gave us a voucher for a free continental breakfast at the diner.  While there, we again saw the cycling couple from Canada and spoke with them for awhile before we hit the road for Flagstaff, AZ.  We had a nice drive to Flag and we both were looking forward to again eating at Miz Zips's.  After checking into the Motel 6, we found another 50's style diner closer to the motel so we decided to give it a try.  The name of the joint is the Galaxy Diner.  We ordered the requisite cheeseburger and chocolate malt, only this time, I got onion rings instead of fries.  They were delicious as was the cheeseburger.  Although the malts were also tasty, they were not as good as the malts as Miz Zip's.  The next time we are in Flag, we will hit Miz Zip's, but if you are ever in Flag, either place has a great cheeseburger.

Next morning we headed back to Kingman.  On the way home, we started planning our next road trip together.  Perhaps another sunset photo tour in Monument Valley and a return to Hanksville where there is mucho stuff to see.  And maybe SW Utah.  Who knows?

This was a great road trip and for me, very spiritual.  What fun I am having.













desert southwest landscape photography

We had a lot fun on this trip. I'm just glad we did not get hung up with another driver coming down Shafer Trail. On the way back to Flag, we were originally planning on going down the Moki Dugway, a dirt road that descends almost a sheer cliff but it was raining a bit and we decided not to. It was a good decision because we got to go thru a portion of the Glen Canyon Recreation area that John had not previously seen. It was a beautiful drive descending down to the Colorado River.

Great story, could picture you going to all those neat places. Unfortunately could also picture those awful curves around the mountain!
Glad you had such a great trip...your pix are wonderful!
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