Saturday, November 15, 2008

What I did on my summer vacation

My husband Charles and I often travel to southern Utah. We love to take the “blue line” roads whenever possible. We found a good one that goes through the community of Antimony (named after the metal discovered there in 1880). The highway is little traveled, scenic and ends just outside Bryce Canyon National Park. Nights were spent in state parks like Kodachrome Basin, arguably the best State Park facility anywhere.

We headed south on the Cottonwood Canyon dirt road, in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Large signs indicated that high clearance and 4-wheel drive were required. They were right. The road is on a lot of clay, but fortunately it hadn’t rained recently and none was forecasted. However, no grading or maintenance had been performed in a long time leaving it almost impassable. We spent four hours navigating the road, mostly in 4-wheel drive. We learned later that park rangers were telling travelers that the road was impassable and closed.

A primary destination of our journey was White Pocket and South Coyote Buttes, a permit area in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness on the Utah Arizona border. Access is through miles of deep sand road, so we reserved a guide service with special vehicles. White Pocket is a relatively unknown and unique spot on the Paria Plateau. I expected ridicule for bringing my pink umbrella. Turns out, our guide Susan used an umbrella and brought extras for others.

The Slot Canyons in this area are particularly beautiful, with red and gold sandstone colors. Then we signed up with Slot Canyon Hummer Adventures for a three hour tour to visit Secret Canyon, a section of Waterholes Canyon on the Navajo Res. I want a Hummer. 'Them' things go straight up.

Our last stop was at Moise, Montana, North of Missoula, location of the 20,000 acre National Bison Range. We took the 19 mile Red Sleep Mountain Drive twice, once in the afternoon and once at 7AM the next morning. It was great viewing and picture taking of bison, antelope, black bear, white tail deer and elk. All in natural habitat but used to vehicles on the road. Elk were bugling and fighting in the morning. It was a great way to finish our trip.

Then we had a short 8 hour drive home!