4 Corners, Valley of the Gods, Natural Bridges

Trip Start Nov 15, 2011
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Trip End Nov 14, 2012


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Where I stayed
Valles RV Park

Flag of United States  , Utah
Friday, May 4, 2012

Our drive yesterday took us south along Scenic Highway 89; on one side of us were the red rocks of Bryce Canyon and Grand Staircase-Escalante, and on the other the north rim of the Grand Canyon, the scenery was fantastic. We continued on through Glen Canyon to Page, headed north-east to Kayenta and then between the Oljato Monument Valley and Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.  The views just continue to be awesome.

We finally arrived at our campsite at Mexican Hat; another very basic site, but cheap.  The 'town' has the only gas station for miles, a motel, a snack bar, and a few houses.  The town is named after a rock formation which looks like a Mexican hat.  As the sun was setting we walked along by the San Juan River; the rocks were so red, and the sky was beautiful.

Today we started at Four Corners, where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico meet.  After that Cliff wanted to do some off-roading so we took the 17 mile dirt track through the Valley of the Gods.  The valley contains tall, red, isolated sandstone mesas and cliffs standing high above the desert floor; some have been given fanciful names but we couldn't always recognise them, and they are constantly changing with erosion anyway.  The road was very steep and bumpy in places, winding, and not only went up and down but side to side as well. It is supposed to be a two-way road, but hardly seemed wide enough, and all the traffic was coming towards us.  We had to stop to get photos - the rest of the time Christine was hanging on with both hands! 

After that we had the choice of returning to the campsite or going to Natural Bridges National Monument; Cliff chose Natural Bridges.  We hadn't gone far along the road when we encountered a large sign saying '10% grade, 5mph switchbacks, narrow gravel road for 3 miles, 800 feet ahead'.  While in the Valley of the Gods Christine had been photographing the cliffs on the edge of the valley, because of the colours - we had no idea that we were about to drive up the cliff face!  Cliff's comments ranged from "oh look at the view, quick take a photo" when the drop was on Christine's side of the road, to "ohhh sh*t!!!" when it was on his side, especially as there are no barriers on the edge of the road.

We eventually made it to the top and continued slowly on our way, only to be stopped by some cows being herded down the middle of the road - not sure what was wrong with the huge grass verge they could have been using!

At Natural Bridges we drove round the one way (narrow) road, and climbed over a few rocks to see the bridges.  It's amazing how these things are formed.  Then it was time to head back, and we discovered that the quickest way was back the way we had come - down the cliff face!  It actually didn't seem so bad coming back, and the views were stunning.
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