A fall meander from TX to CA

Old Mar 27th, 2021, 09:54 AM
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A fall meander from TX to CA

In late September we needed to drive back to CA from TX and decided to make a road trip out of it. We had no plan and winged it for the most part. NM had a quarantine so CO seemed like a good place to head and also to escape the heat. Pagosa Springs was a town we had driven through previously and thought it might be worth a stop. It was 14+ hours from where we were starting our drive so we broke it up by overnighting in Roswell NM chosen solely because it was past mid-point along the route. I booked a hotel room with a kitchen and we drove straight there and stayed in our room until we left the next morning.

We arrived in Pagosa Springs after two long travel days just happy to have gotten that over with. We stayed at the Club Wyndham in a one bedroom condo overlooking the golf course. Our unit was older but fine. It looked like they were in the process of remodeling the lake front units.




Dinner of leftover BBQ

The next morning we hiked up Reservoir Hill for a view of town and spent the rest of the day soaking at The Springs. We bought passes that included the adult terrace, got there early enough to grab two chaise lounges and stayed up there the whole time. Pools had capacity limits as low as 2 and up to 6 but we had no trouble finding an available pool. Could've been because it was a weekday. There was also food and drink service. It was bliss.



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Old Mar 27th, 2021, 11:21 AM
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We decided to head up to Ouray. It was now a Thursday and I only managed to get a one night reservation at the Riverside Inn. We took a beautiful drive up 550, something we were unable to do the last time we were in the area due to a snowstorm. Getting to Ouray we found the town mobbed and were glad we were only staying one night. We took a short drive to Ridgway to get out of the crowds. Dinner was on the patio of Brickhouse 737. I can't remember exactly what we had but do remember it was good. The most memorable part of the evening were the 3 mule deer bucks casually strolling down the middle of the Main Street.




Molas Pass


Silverton


Ouray


Ridgway

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Old Mar 27th, 2021, 11:47 AM
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It was time to head some place quieter. The southeast corner of UT was an area we'd never explored other than a short trip to Monument Valley. Basing in Bluff seemed like the best option and I found Bluff Dwellings which looked like our kind of place so booked 3 nights there. It was a scenic drive leaving CO with views like this along the way.



We stopped at Newspaper Rock.



And the Needles district of Canyonlands on our way to Bluff. The smoke haze was much more noticeable in UT but nothing like what we'd experienced earlier in the month at home.


Along the Cave Spring trail








Big Spring Canyon

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Old Mar 27th, 2021, 01:47 PM
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Patty - I think you were in SW CO around the time we were there as part of our 10 day home state road trip. We only passed through Ouray this time; a Saturday in late September, and could not believe how busy it was. We visit Ouray often and have never seen it like that. On our most recent visit in early March, I overheard a local tell someone that 2020 was the busiest year Ouray had seen in years. I believe it.

Pagosa Springs was also packed when we drove through in June. Half of Texas seemed to be there. It wasn't too bad in September though.

In September the smoke was pretty bad until we reached Ouray and Durango, where the skies were clear and smoke-free.
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Old Mar 27th, 2021, 02:11 PM
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Melnq8,
It was October 1st by the time we got to Ouray. Pagosa Springs wasn't terribly busy so we were expecting Ouray to be similar. It was our first time there. We were heading south and only made it to Ridgway last time before it started snowing and decided to abort our drive.

I'd been following the smoke maps and knew that the smoke was pretty bad in other parts of CO. We were very lucky to only encounter a few days of distant haze on our trip. This was our backyard earlier in September in the middle of the day.


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Old Mar 27th, 2021, 02:35 PM
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Bluff Dwellings opened in March 2020 and promptly closed until summer. There was still some ongoing construction and this is what the final build out will look like.



It's beautifully sited with all rooms having a patio facing the cliff.



The onsite Cedar Shack Cafe was open on weekends serving a limited menu of things like pizza, salad, wings for dinner and breakfast burritos in the morning. We utilized it for a few meals during our stay and as it was counter service we brought our food back to our patio and by one of their fire pits.



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Old Mar 27th, 2021, 03:30 PM
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We started our next morning driving through and wandering around Valley of the Gods. There was surprisingly plenty of available dispersed camping considering it was a weekend. This whole corner of UT was very quiet and we only ran into a handful for people wherever we went.







We then drove up the Moki Dugway to Muley Point Overlook with distant views of Monument Valley.





Our last stop was Goosenecks State Park which I think rivals Horseshoe Bend with the benefit of having far fewer people.



As it was getting hot, we headed back to Bluff to look for lunch and hang out by the pool. In addition to the cafe at our resort, there were 3 open restaurants in Bluff. We tried them all. None were bad and I would eat at any of them again. All were operating outdoors only with counter service with the exception of Comb Ridge which had table service. Today we stopped at the cafe next to Twin Rocks Trading Post. The trading post also had some beautiful items for sale all made by local artisans.





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Old Mar 28th, 2021, 07:28 AM
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Wow! That looks absolute gorgeous. Great pictures too. I'll definitely have to put this on my itinerary next time I'm in the southwest.
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Old Mar 28th, 2021, 12:58 PM
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The following day we went to Natural Bridges National Monument. We drove the one way loop to the overlooks and took two short hikes down to Sipapu and Owachomo bridges.




Sipapu Bridge




Owachomo Bridge

On our way back to Bluff we stopped to see Mule Canyon Kiva.





And took another short hike to House on Fire ruins.









We weren't ready to leave the next day so extended our stay by another night when we got back to the hotel.

Last edited by Patty; Mar 28th, 2021 at 01:52 PM.
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Old Mar 28th, 2021, 01:51 PM
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On our third morning we went to Hovenweep National Monument. We found Bluff to be a great base for day trips in different directions within an hour or so.







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Old Mar 28th, 2021, 02:55 PM
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Thanks, Flurnim. We loved this corner of UT.
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Old Mar 28th, 2021, 03:36 PM
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What gorgeous photos. I'd never heard of House on Fire - I'll definitely try to fit the Bluff area in next time I'm in the general 4 corners area.
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Old Mar 29th, 2021, 08:03 AM
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Thanks, janisj. I found this planner very helpful https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/fi...ip_Planner.pdf

Some additional maps here https://www.blm.gov/programs/nationa...ment/brochures

This site had good info too https://bearsearsmonument.org/bears-...-monument-map/
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Old Mar 29th, 2021, 09:38 AM
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We needed to decide which direction to head next. As it was a little warm for us at this elevation we thought we'd head for higher ground. I found a room at the Red Sands Hotel in Torrey near Capitol Reef which we had only briefly visited before. We needed to backtrack in the direction of Natural Bridges but this gave us a chance to see a few things we'd missed earlier. Our first stop was a failed attempt to find the Butler Wash dinosaur tracks. I don't know if we were looking in the wrong place or they were just really faint. Next was a short hike to the Butler Wash ruins overlook.





Followed by a visit to Cave Towers.





The drive along 95 was fairly picturesque and we made note of the location of a slot canyon hike past Hite for next time. We drove through Capitol Reef but did not stop due to limited parking. We decided that an afternoon by the pool was better than dealing with crowds and that we'd return early the following morning.



I did a check for dinner options and Cafe Diablo which we had enjoyed last time had since closed. The restaurant at the Rim Rock Inn seemed like a decent choice. I made a call and they could fit us in at an outdoor table if we arrived early. The food was OK, the view was very nice and I didn't see a whole lot of other options. I had actually wanted to stay in one of their cabins but they were booked.
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Old Mar 29th, 2021, 11:53 AM
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The next morning we headed out early to hike to Hickman Bridge. It was beautiful in the morning light. By the time we got back parking was overflowing.







We then hiked part of Grand Wash before heading back into town for a late breakfast at Paizlee's.







Searching for our next stop I was hoping to find some place to stay in Boulder or Escalante (ha ha!) but the best I was able to do was Tropic. We've stayed in Tropic before and actually like the little town but the cabins we liked were of course not available so we ended up at the Red Ledges motel. We made a few stops along 12 and had lunch at Escalante Outfitters. The contrast of covid protocols between Bluff/Escalante and Torrey/Tropic were like night and day. It hardly seemed like we were traveling in the same state.


Still hazy in the distance


View from Kiva Koffeehouse - I'd love to stay at one of their cottages

We were hoping to grab dinner at idk BBQ which was just a truck in Cannonville the last time we were in the area but now has a brick and mortar location in Tropic but they were having an equipment malfunction so we ended up next door at Rustlers along with it seemed everyone else who had wanted to eat at idk BBQ. There was quite a wait for a patio table but they were very nice and agreeable in letting me leave my phone number and calling me when one was ready. Unfortunately I can't really recommend the food.
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Old Mar 29th, 2021, 04:15 PM
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Our plan in the morning was to hike Willis Creek slot canyon but that was abandoned with rain clouds and drizzle. Instead we hiked at Red Canyon which we hadn't done before. It turned out to be a nice morning,









In the afternoon we went to Bryce and just walked along the rim. We lucked out with a parking spot just as someone was leaving.





Tonight we were very happy to find that idk BBQ had reopened.
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Old Mar 30th, 2021, 06:56 AM
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Enjoying your report Patty. We'd planned a January UT National Parks trip, but cancelled because COVID was raging. You've given me some ideas for when we reschedule.
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Old Mar 30th, 2021, 12:55 PM
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Thanks for continuing to follow along, Melnq8.
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Old Mar 30th, 2021, 01:22 PM
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I’m enjoying your TR, and remembering some of our trips to the area. It would be so nice to get back there before we are too old to hike.
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Old Mar 30th, 2021, 05:49 PM
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Very nice! I am enjoying your trip and photos. It's all so beautiful!
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