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Friday, October 26, 2012

The Eye Of The Beholder

After wandering for four days in Utah's wireless wilderness... a veritable internet vacuum... subjected to buffeting winds of Old Man Winter, as he tarred, feathered and run Ms Autumn clean out of "town," suffering through a 50% off sale on comfortable temps that slashed mercury down to the low 20's and drained my four el-cheapo Walmart Marine-turned-Security Guard batteries to 11.89 volts... we are now safe and warm in Hanksville, Utah, a graveyard of automobile and mobile home wreckage, and Hick-town poster child straight out of the 1950's. That Verizon saw fit to cover this salvage yard is a mystery. 

Mind you, I am not complaining. No, that would be like biting the Almighty Hand that feeds cherry centered cordials to your eyes, heart, mind and soul. Man, have we ever made some warm memories to keep us warm in our old age... below, on top of, in and around, the San Rafael Swell. The really cool part is, we haven't even scratched the surface. A return here is priority, so we can complete our mission... which is to explore, while providing the curious with an internet storybook filled with photos and offbeat descriptions of cool places to go and things to do and see while there. Now, for the first time in a treadmill life, I can finally say I have a job I love! Too bad it doesn't come with a paycheck.

Getting there

About ten minutes west of Green River, Utah, home of an worthy museum that features wild and wooly river exploits by John Wesley Powell, the San Rafael Swell juts skyward from the earths crust like some fossilized spiney-backed sea serpent. Highway 24 conveniently intersects Interstate 70 at the base of the swell. Your adventure starts now. 

All I can tell you is to get a good guidebook back at the Green River Museum and have at it. This is BLM land so boondocking is abundant all along the serpent's back, from the Interstate to Hanksville, and it's cut with a summer's worth of slot canyons to explore. If you have a fear of closed in places, then enjoy sun and big sky by slick rock hiking above canyon's rim. The slick rock is mountain bike friendly and fun to play on, but I suggest elbow and knee pads, and a good helmet. 

We turned off on Goblin Valley Road, headed west toward the Swell. A  BLM campground snuggles right up against the Serpent where pavement turns into a dirt road. The road continues, entering the mouth of a canyon and winding through some great biking country before spitting you back out on the Interstate some 20 miles distant. We could have boon docked Goldie any number of places on that road, but choose the BLM camp for its one iffy bar of signal. 

Horseshoe Canyon Hike To Rock Art

Bobbie studied her guidebook and suggested we explore Horseshoe Canyon for it's rock art... known to be some of the largest (tall) panels of figures around. Horseshoe is long 35 miles off highway 24, to the east of Goblin Valley Road. It's sand covered in places, rough in others, with a mishmash of wash out and chatter-jaw thrown in between. Allow some time. Don't go if there is a real threat of rain as this the road is often red clay... which transforms into the slickest goo, the kind that balls up in ones fender wells and eventually locks tires. Enough said.

Now go grab a beer while I turn the presentation over to iPhoto, each worth a thousand of my grubby words... 

A poor light day...

Looks like Native Americans aren't the only ones that left their mark... Dinosaurs were here too.

Now that's an Amphitheater...

Try to spot Bobbie... it gives you an idea how big this cave is

Panels in the Amphitheater... top and below.

This is a sand-slog hike... it gets to you after a few miles

Catch the main panel rock art in the next post... I'm tired of Hangin' in Hanksville...
We appreciate your comments :))
mark and bobbie... in the middle of nowhere.
Don't forget to bookmark the places you want to visit!!!


  1. Horseshoe Canyon is one of my favorite rock art sites in UT. What an eerie beautiful place.

    If it's any consolation it got down to freezing here in Prescott. We are thinking of heading south soon!

  2. It's 49 during the DAY in San Antonio, Texas with a Texas-sized thunderstorm and lots of rain. It lasted two hours. Should be over with.

    Hanksville is definitely in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE!

  3. I haven't been in Horseshoe Canyon since 1998, and it was in the fall. I don't think the colors were quite this magnificent, however, and I know I wasn't the photographer that you are! One of the precious places on the planet. Hanksville Hell is the gateway to heaven, the gorgeous red heart of the earth between Boulder Mountain and Needles, with Mt Ellen watching over all. Hope you can hike that mountain if it isn't all snowed in. The road up there is wild. I would go last week in September and stay till mid October, never knowing if it would be 85 degrees or snowing. I miss it.

  4. Your photos have Edward Abbey written all over them. Thanks for the memories.


  5. The San Rafael Swell is on our bucket list.
    Wonderful pictures of Horseshoe Canyon.

  6. OK, this is now on my list, but in just a little warmer weather. Gorgeous. That cavern is Huge! Time to head to Zion?

  7. Yup, we've got to get back to southern Utah again one of these days. Great pics!

  8. Finally, an Internet signal!!! :)))
    You wimps :))
    I'll be joining you in the not too distant future. thanks

    Travel Bug
    Well, I've heard Texas needs some rain :))
    and Hanksville is the middle of nowhere in the middle of nowhere! Thanks, enjoy the rain.

    Sounds like you have explored this country!
    It is amazing how fast the landscape changes from Hanksville to Capital Reef... Bang! Your eyes are bleeding :))
    There is snow on all these mountains already... on the tops, anyway. thanks

    Thanks you, Now if I could just get my words to Edward Abbey all over them :))
    I always appreciate your comments, Gumo.

    Jean and Skip,
    By the time I'm done with you, your "bucket" will be mighty heavy! :)) Thanks for your comment.

    I'm filling your bucket too :))
    That amphitheater reminded me of the great room at Carlsbad Caverns. Zion, yes... we are in route. Enjoy Texas,

    Jim and Gayle,
    We'll meet you there and play tour guide... for a nominal donation :))
    I'm talking beer, of course :)))))))

    George and Suzie,
    Thanks for your "love." You are most welcome, and more coming.


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