Monday, April 9, 2018

Last week in Bluff, Utah

It's Monday and we're in settled into our lovely site at Portal RV Resort in Moab, Utah.   We always enjoy the time we spend here and are looking forward to exploring this fantastic area.

turning into Portal's driveway....many improvements since we were last here.

site M29 faces a pretty pond and natural area

we have a large site with a shade pergola

Sunday morning, after a delicious breakfast with the Lowes, we made the relatively short drive up from Bluff.

beginning to see the distinctive Moab rock formations with the snow covered La Sal Mtns. in the background

Today we spent a little time getting reacquainted with the town, grocery shopping and getting the Jeep's flat tire fixed.    Well, that is what we planned on doing but when we talked a little about the tires, we decided to just bite the bullet and buy four new ones.     We'd planned on buying replacements once we got home, more aggressive tires that would be safer for us since we spend quite a bit of time bouncing around on unpaved roads.    We'll be here, doing just that, for the next three weeks so the decision was to get those better tires now when we can really use them.

Getting back to our time in Bluff.....

We spent most of our time on those back country roads.    One day, as we followed a dirt road toward the San Juan River (where we wanted to eat lunch) we found ourselves at the end of the unfenced Bluff airport runway.

we kept our eye on the sky as we drove past the runway 

Luckily there is little or no air traffic at this tiny airport so we just kept going past the runway's end.     Through a cattle gate (yes, we closed it after we went through...) and on toward the river.  Our Benchmark map showed the road ending at the River and we always try to eat lunch near water if we can.   Sort of correct....

There's the San Juan River.....down there

The road did end at the River, but about 200 feet ABOVE the River... the map didn't show that.    Since none of us wanted to scramble down that far just to eat lunch, we turned around and took a spur road to it's end. 

Moqui marbles!

We set up our chairs on the slick rock amongst piles of very interesting stones and rocks.   Sound like fun?    We had a ball eating lunch and sorting through the rocks, finding many to add to my collection.   Simple pleasures, I know.

Another day we drove down the back of Comb Ridge on Butler Wash Road but didn't take it the entire way because we didn't find it very interesting.   There were several interesting hikes to Native American ruins off the road, but my knee still isn't up to much so we just turned around.

I'm fascinated by Comb Ridge.   It's huge pale spine seems to dominate the landscape and I found myself giving directions using it as a reference for everything.    It is a linear north-south trending monocline nearly 80 miles long and tilted at a 20 degree angle.

Image result for comb ridge utah
aerial view

There are long dirt/sand roads running it's length, one the upper side (Butler Wash Road) and Comb Wash Road below.    One day we drove through a huge cut in the Ridge and then took the lower road to it's end, on route 95, about 25 miles.

It was a very dry and dusty road.   There is virtually no humidity in the air here and the resulting static electricity causes the sand and dust to cling to the Jeep in most interesting patterns.

We stopped here and there to wander off and explore an interesting rock formation, or an unusual color, or to let Lewis "stretch his legs".

One day we drove through a fascinating area similar to Monument Valley, called Valley of the Gods.   We had done this drive before but it never fails to impress us.

The size and shape and color of the formations on this loop road just floor us.
It is public land, land that belongs to all of us.  People are free to camp amongst these giants and enjoy everything this area has to offer. 

lunch in the rocks

huge monolith....
can you see the jeep at it's base?

We were still trying to find a way to the San Juan River.   We have seen places where people were camping on it's shoreline, and places where river rafting companies were putting in, but we wanted to find a  place all to ourselves.  We thought Lewis would enjoy a dip in the cool water and it may wash off some of the dust clinging to his curly body.   We wanted him to be black again!

this formation reminded me of the flame stitch pattern on my dining room chairs!

We drove around behind a rock formation called the Mexican Hat.   The river runs behind it, through a thick margin of reeds and locust.    In one direction I saw two campers but the path leading off in the other way seemed rough and narrow, but empty.

see the campers on the left?

  Dave walked down to check out the conditions before we turned and headed off on our mission.

my driver checks the road conditions ahead

It was rough with deep sand and only two tracks to follow, but we had it all to ourselves.

10 or 15 crows on the cliffside yelled something nasty as we passed by

It ended at a bend in the river, just where we wanted to be.   No scrambling through the thorny underbrush to reach the water.

this is exactly what we had in mind!

The water was fast moving and beautiful.   Lewis went right in but there was some deep mud at the shoreline that made it difficult for him to enjoy himself so we walked along the narrow shore towards a rocky area jutting into the stream.

At one point he chased his stick into the water and fell into a deep hole.  He couldn't get out the way he went in and there were a few tense moments as he clung to the rock trying to get a purchase.   Eventually he turned and found another way...he's a trouper.

We had one more fun adventure with friends.   I'll tell you about that tomorrow.

cough cough......


  1. Love your site! You will never regret buying good new tires! We loved Valley of the Gods even more than Monument Valley. The road was much better and to get up close to the rock is a huge plus. Glad y'all had a super time. What beautiful photos. I don't think there is an ugly place any where in Utah!

  2. Wow! Portal's entrance has really changed. You'll have to stop and take a few photos for us to see the changes. Is there a pool behind the new building? What's in the new building? You have a lovely site! Perfect!

  3. What tires did you select for the Jeep? Good tires are a must off-road, but need to behave well on-road. Your search for the perfect river/lunch spot certainly paid off. Another awesome adventure!

    1. BF Goodrich T/A KO2 tires. So far so good!

    2. You'll like those, I've had them on the truck and Jeep since 1997 - not the same set - but they do wear well, strong sidewalls, air down nice. Gotchya is lesser wet traction on the road. Never a flat!

  4. I was going to ask you about the tires too. I think we're going to replace ours in the next few days, before doing anymore of the rock runs we've been doing for weeks. I definitely want beefier sidewalls! Lewis is sure having a ball on his day trips. That's a great pic of the Jeep below the monolith!!! Had no idea you could get to the water behind Mexican Hat - what a fun find :-)

  5. Your photos of the Raplee are like paintings! Love it! And that aerial view of Combs Ridge is fascinating.