The drive along 191 just south of Moab looking north at the Manti La-Sal Mountains.
All winter I keep my possible summer travels in the back of my mind and I’m formulating possible routes for it. The closer it gets the firmer the plans become until eventually I have a pretty good idea of when and where I’m going. Finally I post a blog with a proposed schedule of my travels so you all can join for some or part of the trip. This year went a little different than usual.
Because I receive royalties from Amazon for my Kindle book, I have to file a business return every year and pay self-employment taxes. When I was doing my taxes in April I realized that if I wrote a guide book about driving to Alaska, the cost of that trip could be a tax deduction. That was an idea that I really liked and a light-bulb went off in my head and I realized I could write a series of guide books and my every years travels could be a tax deduction–I liked the idea of paying less taxes!! This first one will be called “The Nomad’s Dirt Cheap Guide to the Best Drives in the Rocky Mountain States.”
Another shot along 191.
Utah has a huge variety of terrain. This alpine lake is just a few miles south from where I took the above shots on 191.
The result is that my plans slightly changed for this summer. Instead of going up the Rockies and over to Washington I’m going to spend all my time in the Rocky Mountain states of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. My goal is to drive as many mountain passes as I can and write a guide book rating and comparing them. Right now there are no guide books that offer the total package I’m planning on offering:
- The most unique thing it will have is to try to objectively rate the drives and say that, “If you only have two weeks, drive these roads and not those roads. If you have more time, include these roads but not those.” There are lots of books describing the drives, but there are none that risks subjectively comparing them.
- Another thing I want to include is a listing of free dispersed campsites along the drives so the readers can travel as cheaply as they possibly can.
- Finally, this book will cover all the Rocky Mountain states in one book. All the others you have to buy one state at a time.
Future guide books will cover dirt cheap travel to the Grand Circle (the 5 National Parks in southern Utah plus a few more) the Pacific Coast and Northwest, and the trip to Alaska. I’m hoping the comparative ratings and dispersed camp sites will set it apart from the other guides that are out there.
Much of Utah is on the Colorado Plateau which is a a giant area of uplift. As a result there are large breaks in the earth known as anticlines all across the state. This is the one you cross on 95 about 20 miles from where you leave 191.
The anticline is steep on one side and a sheer drop off on the other. The only way to put a road over it is to blast a canyon through it. This V notch was blasted out to make a way through the anticline.
This summer I’ll explore the Rocky Mountains, this winter the Grand Circle and next summer the Pacific Coast. That’s going to be a lot of driving and a lot of work so I need to make the most of my time as I possibly can. When I left Moab I knew many mountain passes up north would still be snowed in, so to give them time to thaw I decided to explore the northern route of the Grand Circle and start taking notes on that area. It gets cold in the winter so doing it now may be the best chance I get. I’ve driven all of it multiple times, but it’s been at least 5 years so essentially I’m starting all over again. This is the route I started off with:
- From Moab south on 191 to Blanding, UT.
- From Blanding west on 95 Hanksville.
- From Hanksville west on 24 to Capital Reef NP.
- From Capital Reef NP south and west on 12 to Bryce Canon NP.
As you drive along 95 you come to the Natural Bridges National Monument which I didn’t stop at. Very close to it is the White Canyon which is a gorgeous drive for about 20 miles.
I’ve got to tell you that this is one of the most stunning drives in the entire USA. If you doubt that, just consider that you see four National Parks, two National Monuments, a National Recreation Area and drive through several high passes in National Forests. As hard to believe as it is, much of the “normal” part of the drive is every bit as beautiful as those nationally recognized areas.
Soon after White Canyon you drop down to the Colorado River which is exceptionally beautiful. Once there you are inside the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area which includes Lake Powell. As you climb out from the Colroado River you come to the Hite Overlook where these photos were taken of the River. This photo is looking north.
Cody and I looking south from the Hite Overlook at the Colorado River. There is another river coming in from the left and that is the North Wash River. 95 follows it through a beautiful red rock canyon up to Hanksville.
In this post I’ll include photos from the first part of the trip and include others legs of the trip in later posts. As always I’m concerned that there will be too many travel posts so I will throw in more practical, inspirational and educational posts as we go along.
I also want to encourage you to write me with your favorite Rocky Mountain drives. It would be most helpful if you rated it on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “Don’t bother” and 10 being “Must See!!” Also, if you have dispersed camp there, please give me directions to where and when.
Here we’re leaving the Hite Overlook and heading into the canyon toward Hanksville. The river is down on our left.
We found a beautiful campsite right on 95 very close to the North Wash River.
Our camp on 95 at sunset.
We were camped at a trailhead and we walked back on the trail; it was an amazing walk! Here is Cody looking down at the trail.
Glowing red rock on 95.
Everywhere we went we saw gorgeous cactus in bloom because of the unusually wet spring weather.
More beautiful cactus.