Exploring the Book Cliffs

After weather sent us scurrying from the San Rafael Swell, we headed to the Book Cliffs. Although I-70 passes along their base from US-6 east to Grand Junction, they’re a relatively unvisited area. Our adventures in the Book Cliffs started in the (ghost?) town of Thompson. The remaining residents have put up a sign with a map detailing the recreational activities available from their little town:

We camped out for the night as it was getting dark and headed to the petroglyph (rock art carvings) AND pictograph (rock art painting) panels in Sego Canyon. Most of my experience with rock art in the Southwest has been with petroglyphs so I was really excited to see the pictographs:

After we checked out the rock art (and waited for the sun to peak over the canyon walls), we headed up Thompson Canyon to the end of the road then returned to head up Sego Canyon and the ghost town of Sego. Sego was a coal mining town that appears to have operated off and on from the 1890s through 1948.

The road goes about 15 miles up into the Book Cliffs and dead ends at the Ute Indian Reservation. We were able to drive almost all the way up (about 13 miles) and walked the rest of the way. The views were incredible!

I even spotted bear tracks in the sand near the end of the road:

We headed down the canyon and turned onto Book Cliffs Road (clearly marked as a 4×4 road…). It was quite an adventure, as the road dropped into a deep, narrow canyon and climbing back out wasn’t the easiest thing to do but Forrest and the van managed just fine (I tried to manage the chaos in the van and Sprocket slept…).

Eventually, we cut back south to I-70 and skipped east to Book Cliffs Over The Top Road. According to the map it was possible to make a loop up one canyon, over the top of the plateau, and then dropping down another canyon.

As we suspected, the top of the plateau was still pretty muddy and we had to skip our plans for making a loop. Despite the fact our plans had changed, it was awesome to be that high and have views out in every direction. I’m sure we’ll be back with the jeep in a more hospitable season to explore some more!

Fellow Adventurers!: Hanging out with Simply Adventure

Last week, Simply Adventure passed through Moab. Katie mentioned that they were looking for things to do so I suggested that we meet up and take a quick hike into Hidden Valley. We ambled up the trail comparing notes about living on the road and the places we’d visited and were planning on visiting. It was so much fun to talk to people who truly get how we live—van life +adventure=awesomeness.

At the top of the valley, we set out to see the petroglyphs. In all my hikes up the canyon, I had never seen them. It’s one of the coolest petroglyph sites around Moab: they’re on a cliff overlooking Behind The Rocks, the river, and off towards Canyonlands & Deadhorse Point with the La Sals behind you.

After our seven and a half mile “quick hike,” we were all hungry and decided that this occasion called for a trip to the Moab Brewery (good burgers, expensive meh beer). We toasted to new vandwelling friends and had an excellent time.

The next day, we’d hoped to go jeeping but the day started out cold and wet. I joined Katie and Niko on a trip to Arches. I hadn’t been since my first trip to Moab in spring 2009 so I was more than happy to go back. We visited Sand Dune and Broken Arches in the north part of the park before hiking to Delicate Arch.

A huge thank you to Simply Adventure for sharing some fun!

Simply Adventure is spending 2013 on the road in their yellow Sprinter climbing and emphasizing land stewardship and conservation. Katie blogs about their adventures at The Morning Fresh, tweets from @TheMorningFresh and @SimplyAdventure, and can be found on Facebook.

Charlie Bell Pass Petroglyphs

Sunday, Forrest, Sprocket and I headed out to Charlie Bell Pass to meet up with Sylvia (who was mountain biking out to the trail head). We were curious to see the petroglyphs and she’d kindly agreed to show us where they were.

On the way home Sylvia and her bike joined us in the jeep. Sprocket was happy to have company: