I love the desert. Healing in many ways, I was long overdue for a therapy session. Two weeks ago I took the long way through Southern CO with a definite goal en route. Should you pass through Pagosa Springs, CO, sit a spell in their famed, local hot springs. All those tension rubber bands wrapped around you will loosen. The 20-some pools are clean, vary in temps, contain different minerals and perch scenically above the San Juan River. Brave souls can dip into the river for a hot/cool contrast.
The entire circuit:
Hiking the next day near Cortez, CO in a little branch of Canyons of the Ancients:
Nature’s drain pipes. I find the sculpturing of sandstone fascinating:
And the sculpting of man-made objects:
Crossed into UT and headed to the Valley of the Gods. I passed by last April with no time to stop. This trip was ALL about having the time to stop wherever I wanted to.
Valley of the Gods is like a mini-Monument Valley. The buttes, columns and towers are dramatic. A 17 some mile dirt road scratches the surface through. Steep in parts, it’s still passable by passenger car but not in wet weather. Unable to capture all its splendor in one pic, here, a few. Also, this was mid-day light. Bright, harsh, it does not give you the detail of the rocks, a shame.
An aerial photo, lifted from Wikipedia: (Big thank you to the photographer, dsearls on flikr.com. He has lots of cool aerial photos in his profile.)
Made my way through the Moki Dugway, a dirt road that impossibly winds up the side of Cedar Mesa (pic posted last April but a new one here because I think it’s that cool) and camped up top.
After an evening of gawking at the San Juan Goosenecks below and seeing the sunset paint the dessert in gradients of orange to red, then finally midnight blue, I woke for a day of hiking. (Mental note, fascinating road below noted from my perch that I must return to. I now have some beta on it from a park ranger that shared some secrets.) Cedar Mesa, amid the Grand Gulch Plateau, has a lifetime of opportunities for exploration. Canyons, springs, and ruins marked on certain maps abound if you’re willing to look.
Slickrock. Looks like peanut butter, I think:
Made a point to stop at Natural Bridges National Monument, a neat little park home to three natural arches and worth a stop if you’re up there.
Reluctantly left the Mesa and headed north with a vague plan. More on that in the next post.
Spoiler alert! This caught my eye and GREATLY changed my itinerary: