When we left Flagstaff our plan was to take our time and detour through Bryce, Capital Reef and Canyonlands. But when we arrived at Page, AZ we discovered most of the roads in Bryce were closed due to snow so it looks our decision on which way to go was made by the weather gods. We took the turn off to Glen Canyon Dam.
This Dam has been controversial since it was built. Environmentalist fought the flooding of Glen Canyon and the changes that would and have occurred to the area. It’s believed that if they tried to build it today it wouldn’t fly -Glen Canyon would be a National Park for hiking and exploring, not for flooding. This was our first visit-you can look one way and see a beautiful blue winding waterway emptying into the dam. Then you can look the other way and see the electric transmission lines covering the hillside and smokestacks on the horizon.
We spent very little time around the dam. Viewing creations like this aren’t our thing-while man can create some incredible things, nature can never be out done. We took off in search of some boon docking on Smokey Mountain Road. Our information indicated that there were many side roads off of the main road that we could take so off we went for our adventure.
Once we turned around and headed out of the canyon we returned to a spot we had scouted earlier. At a pull out we set up camp, surrounded by canyon walls and rolling hills. We only saw one other pick up and one lone hiker in car. Peace and quiet.
We stayed here a couple of nights and then watching the weather we decided it was time to move on. We were looking forward to driving through Monument Valley-we had never been there either. You would never know we lived in the Southwest for 5 years and yet never made it to so many gorgeous spots !
We saw a sign for Mexican Hat Recreation area that looked promising, and it was . Perfect, far enough off the road to not hear the traffic, yet close enough to the San Juan River to hear the water rushing by. We were only 15 miles from our next destination, Muley Point. But based on darkness quickly descending on us we decided it was safer to spend the night here than trying to maneuver switchbacks in the dark.
The next morning we checked the weather forecast and all looked good for our expedition to Muley Point. We had read about the Moki Dugway switchbacks the night before. The road was described as being a “dangerous road”- “a staggering, graded dirt switchback road carved into the face of the cliff edge of Cedar Mesa. It consists of 3 miles of steep, unpaved, but well graded switchbacks (11% grade), which wind 1,200 feet from Cedar Mesa to the valley floor near Valley of the Gods.” We did our due diligence, checked for road closures along with the weather forecast- all systems were go-so off we went !
Whew, we finally made it to the top and the view was spectacular. Well worth the white knuckle driving.
I never knew this incredible place existed. And there was only one other person up on the rim, Joe from Las Vegas. He and his furry friend Buddy had spent one night on the rim and were getting ready to explore the rest of the rim in his Sprinter van. We gladly took his camping spot with this view and we parked about 5 ft from the ledge. We couldn’t believe how awesome this spot was.
It was still early afternoon, about 1pm when the sky started to darken and then the snow flurries started. Small little white snowflakes that quickly turned into a white out. We carefully moved Ruby the Wild Heart and parked among some small bushes to help block the winds. It snowed all afternoon and as darkness fell the snow turned into a super duper ice storm ! What, the weather called for sunny partly cloudy ! We both fell asleep to ice pelting the van . Then came the winds, I swear it had to be 40 mph or stronger. Ruby was literally rocking and all we could think of was praying, please God let us survive this night and please let us be able to get off of this ledge in the morning.
Were we frightened ? Yes just a little. The good news was we had enough diesel to heat us for about a week and a half if we rationed our heat and we had plenty of food and water to sustain us for even longer. Still, this little voice kept saying don’t stick around as soon as the sun breaks through get out of Dodge ! And we did, the new weather forecast called for 8 inches of snow down in the valley which we interpreted as at least 2 feet up on Muley Point . Fortunately , our new friend Joe had told us how easy the back road was that he used to get to the top. What a relief, we didn’t have to ice skate down the “dangerous” Moki Dugway switchbacks ! Hallelujah !!
I was never so happy to see a paved road ! We stayed on Hy 261 until we hooked up with Hy 95 where we saw our first snow plow !!
We could see the mountains of Utah in the distance and finally breathed a sigh of relief . We had survived our adventure on Muley Point. Will we return ? Absolutely, it’s too amazing of a spot to not make a return trip . But it sure won’t be close to the time of the year when the snow flies . Ha Ha .
What’s ahead ? Moab and our camp hosting gig. After this adventure that’s going to seem very very calm- something we need in our lives right now.
Safe travels my friends and happy trails. And may all your adventures bring you safely home.
“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.”