October and November 2018
Fall is a great time to visit southern Utah and the southeastern part of the state is relatively convenient to reach from central New Mexico. I wouldn't be able to get away for a long trip, only for a couple of nights in October. But when November rolled around I decided to squeeze one more short trip in before the end of the season. Both trips are covered in this post, which will be light on narrative, but with lots of photos. I will break the post in two for more efficient distribution of photos.
(I also took a number of videos, but those will have to wait until I upgrade my computer this winter. I will update this post when those are uploaded to YouTube. If you are subscribed to my blog notification list (see link above) I will let you know when the post has been updated.)
For both trips I left the Albuquerque area mid-morning, driving my usual route up US-550 to US-64 through Farmington, then west to Shiprock, into Arizona and north on US-191 to US-163 and the east entry to Valley of the Gods in October, or to Mexican Hat Rock in November.
Part 1 of 2
Remember to click on a photo to view a larger version.
Thursday, October 25th
Valley of the Gods
|First look at the central area of the valley|
This BLM recreation area is one of my favorite places to disperse camp. I love to admire the towers, pinnacles, buttes, and mesas with their strata, and colorful rocks and soils. The wide vistas also beautiful. There were quite a number of other visitors in the area, but there was room for all.
|The road leads us into the towers|
|Glancing back, I noticed the great light on this bluff and the pattern in the clouds.|
|Looking far to the south we can see interesting landforms.|
|Beautiful view from a campsite along Lime Creek, but it was too windy this afternoon.|
I looked for a campsite near the northern portion of the road. I found a beautiful spot overlooking Lime Creek, but it was strongly buffeted by the wind, situated as it was. I moved to another spot, near one of the towers, that was farther from the edge of the canyon and therefore less susceptible to wind gusts.
|Looking down on my campsite with the last of the sun's rays touching the far off bluffs.|
|Sunset silhouettes of the towers.|
|Just a little color left in the sky|
Friday, October 26th
Dawn was chilly, but beautiful. When the sun had cleared the bluff to the east I tried to get an image of the moon above Castle Peak.
|Sun touching the towers and the moon about ready to sink behind.|
Here is a Spherical Panorama taken near my campside just after dawn. Click-and-drag to move your viewpoint. I highly recommend you click the four-cornered icon in the lower right corner to open the image in full screen.
|Aerial view of my campsite in the early morning light|
After breaking camp I proceeded toward the west entrance of the valley.
|Castle Butte and tower from the other side.|
Here is a Spherical Panorama taken from the other side of the towers. Click-and-drag to move your viewpoint. I highly recommend you click the four-cornered icon in the lower right corner to open the image in full screen.
|Bridge across the San Juan River|
When I reached the pavement I headed down to Mexican Hat. I got gas and had lunch at the cafe next to the bridge.
|View east, up the San Juan River. Taken in the same spot as the photo above.|
Mexican Hat Rock
After lunch I stopped at Mexican Hat Rock. I'd never even noticed it before this trip. If you're not looking the right direction at the right time, you wouldn't even see it. There is a small sign and a dirt road off the east side of the highway that leads to the rock.
|Mexican Hat Rock with the San Juan River|
The county road dead ends at a gravel pit, but if you take the small spur around the north side of the rock it leads down to near the San Juan River. There are about 3 dispersed campsites along there, none particularly close to the water. I chose to head back to Valley of the Gods for the evening.
This ends Part 1. Continue on to Part 2.