I drove to my usual first night stop, Farmington, New Mexico. Generally speaking, this 11-hour drive is beautiful and interesting, but uses divided highways, so it is more of a utility drive. With radio and CDs, plus frequent phone calls to my wife and friends, the time slides by.
• Hite Crossing and The Great Gallery
I drove from Farmington northwest, shooting along the way.
I arrived at the Horseshoe Canyon detachment of Canyonlands National Park by 1 p.m.
The 3.5-mile hike down and into Horseshoe Canyon is beautiful. There are pictograph panels all along the bottom of the canyon, culminating in the Great Gallery, an icon of the ancestral Puebloans.
The largest figures depicted at the Great Gallery are present in a scene at the beginning of the film Koyaanisqatsi, the title of which is a Hopi Indian word meaning “life out of balance.”
In addition to the signature piece, the Great Gallery, Horseshoe Canyon features three other impressive pictograph collections…
• Rain and Scouting
It rained in the San Rafael Swell, where I had hoped to hike, so instead I drove to Capitol Reef National Park, making some decent images along the way.
I mostly drove and scouted at Capitol Reef.
The last time I drove through the area in 2012, someone had erected a high chain link fence around this brick structure, ruining any possibility of photographing it again. My guess would be that the fence was intended to protect it from vandals, which is a shame.
This feature is between Hanksville and Caineville on Utah 24.
• Rain and Getting Stuck in the Mud Finding Sego Canyon
Rain was almost continuous in the morning. A spot of sunshine tempted me out in the afternoon, so I drove to Sego Canyon near Thompson Springs, Utah, a fairly deserted settlement.
In the process of searching for the Sego Canyon petroglyphs, I managed to get my car stuck in some surprisingly slick, deep mud on a road that looked drivable.
After trying for several minutes of trying to coax my car out of the mud, I walked about a quarter of a mile to a cemetery, where I’d noted passing a car with a couple of people in it. I asked them if they could help me get my car free, and one of them told me, “I can’t. I just hurt my back.” I didn’t really believe him.
After several more tries and giving up again, and with my shoes covered in an inch of filth, I finally coaxed my car out of the mire with a combination of my Pontiac’s traction control, built-up mud on the tires, and rocking the car back and forth.
It turned out I had overshot the petroglyphs, and they were on the paved road I had left behind.
• Capitol Reef National Park
I was up before dawn and out the door in Green River, Utah, in time to shoot a lovely sunrise at the Book Cliffs north of town.
I encountered perfect weather and excellent hiking at Capitol Reef.
I started the day with Hickman Bridge, an impressive natural arch at the end of a short spur trail.
Beyond the spur trail was the Rim Overlook Trail, which led to excellent views from the top of the park.
The weather remained cool and dry, with beautiful sunshine.
For some of the afternoon, I hiked the Grand Wash Trail, and though it was interesting and scenic, I found it fairly unchallenging.
After making mental notes of all the rest of Capitol Reef I want to visit, I took the long way back to Green River, through a mountain pass in the Fishlake National Forest, which took me above the 8000-foot snow line.
Finally, I drove across the San Rafael Swell on I-70.
• Driving to Socorro, New Mexico and Abó Ruin
Mostly a driving day, making my way from Green River, Utah, to Socorro, New Mexico. I was able to make a few neat images along the way, and I finished the day at the Abó Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument near Mountainair, New Mexico just before sundown.
• The Trinity Site and White Sands
The Trinity Site is where the first atomic bomb was tested at 5:29 a.m. Mountain War Time, July 16, 1945. In the middle of the forbidding Jornada del Muerto desert and the White Sands Missile Range, the 51,500-acre area was declared a national historic landmark in 1975. The Site is open only on the first Saturday in April and the first Saturday in October. No reservations are required, but I would urge visitors to arrive early – there was a surprisingly large contingent of tourists waiting at the Stallion Gate on the north end of the WSMR when it opened at 8 a. m.
In the afternoon, I had a great time hiking around at White Sands. The wind was up, so I didn’t shoot a lot, but it was a nice, relaxing last day of my vacation.