Navajo Lands

Before leaving Utah, we traveled north to Natural Bridges National Monument. We did a nice hike down to Sipapu Bridge and the Horse Collar Ruins.

Sipapu bridge is the second largest natural bridge in the US, and the sixth largest worldwide.

We then turned back south and headed down the Moki Dugway, which compared to the Shafer trail, was a super highway. The road was wide, graded and had a berm or guardrail on much of the cliff side. The road was easy passage for even two-wheeled sedans. Although we did see one Audi turn around at the bottom when the pavement turned to dirt.

Continuing south we hit the spot just north of Monument Valley that was the background of the movie scene in Forest Gump – “I’m pretty tired, I think I’ll go home now.”

We dropped back into Arizona and camped at Navajo National Monument. Usually it’s an empty park with great spots, but our favorite spots were taken so we tried a new one this time. The Ranger told us that someone had put the campground on the free camping app so the number of folks staying there has gone up significantly.

We signed up for the hike down to Betatakin, or Ledge House, an ancestral Puebloan cliff dwelling. The guide we had was Navajo and gave a great talk on the land, the plants and the people of the area.

We left there and drove across the Navajo Nation and through the Hopi reservation. We enjoyed an awesome lunch of lamb, white hominy and green chili soup with tostadas on blue corn fry bread. We then stopped for the night at Cottonwood CG just outside Canyon De Chelly National Monument.
The next morning, we drove the southern rim of the canyon out to Spider Rock. The views along the way into the canyon were beautiful.

We also did the hike down to White House ruins, the only place within the canyon you can go without a Navajo guide.

We then drove to our place on the Rim to end our fifth summer trek.

To recap this trip, we covered roughly 8,000 miles in 65 days.

We camped in 8 states (Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Washington, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado).

We visited 14 National Parks and Monuments along this trek – Sunset Crater National Monument (AZ), Grand Canyon National Park (AZ), Cedar Breaks National Monument (UT), Great Basin National Park (NV), Haggerman Fossil Beds National Monument (ID), Mt Rainier National Park (WA), Olympic National Park (WA), North Cascades National Park (WA), Yellowstone National Park (WY), Rocky Mountain National Park (CO), Canyonlands National Park (UT), Natural Bridges National Monument (UT), Navajo National Monument (AZ) and Canyon De Chelly National Monument (AZ).

We hit several very good breweries along the way, and I now have a greater appreciation for a well-made Rueben.

Our biggest culinary surprise on this trip, other than using the Volcano grill heat top after it sat in my cook box for a year, was the mouth-watering, freshly made everything served at the Front Porch Grill House in Eureka, MT. It’s way out of the way from everything, but I think we’ll figure a route that takes us back there again in the future.

People always ask, “where is the best place you have been?”. The answer is that they are all awesome. Any place that brings a smile to your face due to its natural beauty, makes your mind examine the wonder of the natural forces and ancient people that shaped the area, or just simply stirs a desire in your heart to see around the next bend is that “best” place.

Not sure what will be our next adventure, but stay tuned…..we’re not done Roaming yet.

2018 Owner’s Rally

EarthRoamer had a 20th anniversary rally just south of Moab, UT. Bill gave a great talk about how the company took shape and became what it is today. The original prototype was built in 1998 on a Dodge chassis, but Dodge would not give him a meeting to discuss the future commercial design, while Ford did. That’s why today the design is build on the F-550, with the first Ford version completed in 2003. Since then just over 200 have been built by the EarthRoamer team, where ours is S/N 110.

Roughly 40 vehicles from all over North America showed up for the rally. They had classes in the daytime to help owners understand the subsystems better and even covered winch and sand recovery techniques.

They also had a couple of drives out to the local Canyonlands National Park for some off-road fun. The rally stopped in Dead Horse Point State Park to see the expansive beauty of the area from the overlook. There was still some smoke from a forest fire to the west, but the view was incredible. If you look closely at the center of the picture you can see the dirt road we came down later in the day from the ridge off in the distance.

We then went to Canyonlands and took the Shafer trail down into the canyon. This is a picture of the rig we were following. What a great road and drive. It was two-way traffic too. Luckily, we were on the inside lane.

The road ran along many beautiful vistas within the park.

At one of these vistas we stopped for lunch. We jumped off the Shafer trail and onto the Potash trail that runs along the Colorado River and dumps you back into civilization right at the entrance to Arches National Park.

A great band from Salt Lake City, Opal Hill Drive, played that night at the rally camp at Area BFE. The band’s equipment and lights were powered by the single EarthRoamer’s camper batteries parked next to the stage – impressive. We even had a bright, full moon for the show.

We left the rally heading south towards Arizona but were quickly distracted by the southern entrance to Canyonlands NP, a place neither of us had been to yet. Along the way to the park entrance we passed Newspaper Rock, a rock filled with petroglyphs from native clans that marked their passing through the area for hundreds or even thousands of years.

We did a nice hike in Canyonlands, but it was a little warm and not much shade.

After the hike we continued south to Muley Point. Being Saturday night, I figured it would be hard to find a good camping spot on this majestic point, only to find out we had the place to ourselves. The San Juan River cuts a beautiful gorge through the valley below as Monument Valley sits on the horizon to the south.

The sunset lights up the plateau of Muley Point for a beautiful evening campfire.

West-Central Colorado

After spending a couple of days with Lou and Nancy in Fruita, CO we hit the road again. We had not camped in this area of the Colorado, so we went to explore a new spot. Just east of Grand Junction the ground rises to a large plateau above 6,000 feet that forms Grand Mesa. The recreational area was filled with dirt roads, campgrounds and lakes.

We talked to the Ranger at the visitor center and while they do have a lot of campgrounds, dispersed camping was permitted in the forest. We found a spot where many of the local aspen trees had begun to turn into the yellow fall colors.

EathRoamer, the builder of our rig, was having an owner’s rally south of Moab to celebrate 20 years in business. We hopped off the Mesa and onto Hwy 141 through the canyons heading west towards Utah.

The canyon made for a peaceful and beautiful drive as we closed in on Moab, UT. We even spotted a Big Horn sheep, but weren’t quick enough to get a picture.

The Dolores River canyon was beautiful and was once the sight of gold mining.

The flume used to move the excavated soil along to separate the gold still is visible today. This section of hanging flume ran for miles along the rock face. The gold flakes were too small to effectively separate out using this technique so the mining stopped many years ago.

We arrived at the owner’s rally at Area BFE, just south of Moab. The site was remote and had spectacular views. If you look closely there are a few EarthRoamers camped on the ridge in the center of the picture.