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Monday, May 10, 2010

Day 29 Bluff, UT (Leg: 0, Trip: 2,136)

Today was an interesting day where our key activity turned out to be somewhat of a dud and our serendipity unplanned activity was the most interesting! We started out this morning on the way to Natural Bridges National Monument. I used my GPS to plot a course and it came up with us following a road called "Comb Wash Road." I suspect that the road is actually a trail following a wash because we never did find that road. This was actually to our advantage because we wanted to visit Valley of the Gods which was further on down the state highway past the mythical Comb Wash Road.

So we found the turnoff for Valley of the Gods. It is a dirt/gravel road that is slow going all the way. It goes for 17 miles! And it seemed like 34 miles for sure! The road is bumpy and in many places there are track prints from heavy equipment so it is like driving on a continuous washerboard. (Hopefully you are old enough to know what a washerboard is!) Several times you actually go down through a creek bed and some of those had a good amount of water in them.

But the scenery you see makes it all worth it! When we entered the drive, there was a kiosk with some information. The rack for trail maps was empty which was too bad because most of the features have names but we didn't know them, so we gave many our own name.

I apologize in advance, but there are a lot of pictures today!

Railroad Engine Rock

The Duck

The Puppy

The Schooner

You Name this one

The Cruise Ship

The Nutcrackers

The Nutcracker Face-off

Rock a bye baby, you are about to fall

Odd Man Out

The Hand of God

The Leaning Tower of Utah

After driving for what seemed like forever, but was only 90 minutes or so, we were really wondering if this road would ever end. Or would there just be a sign that said "the end" and now we would have to go all the way back. Instead we came to, of all things, a bed and breakfast! Valley of the Gods B&B is out here in the middle of nowhere. You can see more about it at It just seemed so totally out of place. Would the visitors have to drive the same road we did to get there?

As it turned out, the answer is no, they don't. The next hundred yards of gravel road brought us to the state highway. So we patted ourselves on the back with congratulations of having survived the "Valley of the Gods" road (though our car wasn't so sure) and bid goodbye to the gravel roads.

Wrong! The state highway had to climb up a mesa. To do that, there were many switchbacks and steep grades. And because rocks are constantly falling, there are about 3 miles of the climb that are unpaved. So back to gravel road it was for awhile as we slowly climbed up the mesa.

Once we reached the top, the state highway was paved again and soon led us to a ranger station where we verified our destination. Natural Bridges NM was only about 10 miles away. The visitor center there was quite nice, but the park was a let down.

There are three natural bridges caused by the meandering water cutting into rock and wearing a hole through the rock which grows with time. Each bridge had a trail down to it, but these were steep, usually at least 500 feet down, and often used ladders on part of the trail. Since we were already close to 7,000 feet in elevation, we didn't do the trails.

Instead we stopped at each observation point and tried to get pictures of the bridges. The best pictures are from the bottom of the canyons looking right into the bridge. Our pictures from the observation point left a lot to be desired. After seeing all the other parks we have so far on this trip, these features just didn't measure up. If we had seen them first, maybe we would have felt different about them.

Sipapu Bridge (see the trees in the middle?)

Kachina Bridge

Owachomo Bridge

Tomorrow we leave for Moab, UT where we will visit both Arches NP and Canyonlands NP. We are hoping to squeeze in a visit to Capital Reef NP after than then head home.

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