I’ve been living in Utah for over 9 years and I knew that if I ever left without seeing the Southwest I would never forgive myself. So when I hit my three-year mark at my company and got extra “paid time off” hours (PTO) I figured I better use it.
Josh and I made a list of places that we wanted to see on the trip (13 to be exact) but we made no reservations or set-in-stone-plans. We rented a nice SUV and packed for anything and everything (camping, hotel staying, etc.).
[Josh and the rental]
[Getting the show on the road]
We headed out to Blanding, Utah on Friday, June 29th. I had to work a full day in the field so we got a late start and ended up getting to our hotel a little after midnight.
[Road to Blanding]
The next morning we got up early and headed to the first place on our list: Edge of the Cedars Museum.
[Artifacts in the Museum]
[Me climbing down into the structure]
After seeing what would be the first of MANY ancient puebloan sites, we headed to something more natural: Natural Bridges National Park.
However, on our way over to the park we got distracted by the Bulter Wash Ruins, which are located in the famous Comb Ridge (a 120 mile long monocline).
We did the short hike to the overlook and stood in awe at the cliff dwellings and the amazing geographic feature they were lying in.
[If you look closely you can see ruins in the three upper shelters]
We left the site and headed towards our original destination: Natural Bridges.
The park is small and consists of a loop that you can drive and then do short walks to see the bridges and a cliff dwelling ruin.
[Scenic hike to Horse Collar Ruin]
[Horse Collar Ruin]
[Me and Owachomo Bridge]
After seeing the bridges, we headed south on a scenic drive. We had no idea what we were looking for or heading to so we just drove. While looking at my map I saw something called the “Valley of the Gods”. Should we go find it? Sure! Why not?!
All of a sudden the nice paved road we were driving on turned to dirt and there were flashing signs warning us to slow down. Then we saw this:
It was a huge 1200 foot drop from the mesa top to the valley floor so we took it slow and enjoyed the desert view.
When we arrived in the valley, we followed signs and found the “Gods” (isolated mesas and cliffs).
We drove the dirt trail through the valley and got a lot of pictures from the car since is was so hot!
[Hot as Hades!]
I was amazed at how much we had seen in one day so I proposed to Josh that we leave Utah behind and head over towards the Colorado border…. Maybe spend the night at our next destination… or not…
We turned towards the east and headed to our next listed destination: Hovenweep National Monument.
We followed our atlas, arrived at the park, talked to the rangers at the visitor center, and then headed into the site.
The trail loop was short, but hot! We hiked along the ridge tops and took in what lay in ruin before us.
[Eroded Boulder House]
[Unit Type House]
[Rim Rock House and Eroded Boulder House]
Little is know about Hovenweep as no archaeological excavations have been conducted. There are speculations, of course, but nothing has been truly investigated. The area was not inhabited very long and the towers are large and unique. This place blew my mind!
After exploring the ruins, we headed to Mesa Verde Colorado where we spend the next three nights camping in the park.