March 5, 2009

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument – Day 4

The Hole in the Rock road is within the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument. You can see a winding ribbon of the road in this view from Fifty Mile Bench.

This was the route taken by Mormon pioneers intent on settling southern Utah. At the end of the road, they reach a 45 degree dropoff to the Colorado River. In order to get down, they spent weeks moving rocks and carving out a path for men, stock, and wagons. The wagons had to be lowered by ropes.
Years ago, while camping on Lake Powell, we hiked from the lake up to the ridge the pioneers descended. The path was steep even for hearty hikers.

This time, though, we weren't going to river or lake, but attempting to reach Fifty Mile Mountain. We rode our horses up a jeep road to Fifty Mile Bench.

Much of the path was sandy. We were able to trot and canter there, making good time.

After a particularly arduous stretch, the horses got a much-deserved snow cone break.
The view from Fifty Mile Bench was vast.
But just above the bench, the track narrowed and most of it was slick or covered with snow. We'll have to come back and reach the mountaintop another day.
On the way down, we saw this window rock, a testament to the power of water and wind acting on sandstone. Amazing, isn't it?

A jackrabbit stood absolutely still in the blackbrush, hoping we wouldn’t notice him.

When we stopped to take his picture, the little guy spooked and raced away. Lucky for him, Daisy didn’t notice him. She was probably too tired by then to have made a respectable chase anyway.
By early afternoon, we were back at our trailer.

We decided to make part of the long drive back home that day. The reasonable stopping place was Hans Flat Road near Canyonlands, where we’d camped earlier in the week.
We arrived just as twilight descended.

And later, Steve took this photo:

As it turned out, returning for another night at Hans Flat led to an unexpected and happy consequence the next day.
For more Skywatch, click here.


  1. I always love your posts. There are just so many wonderful places to see in Utah! Excellent photos!

  2. Great series of shots. Looks like a great place to explore!

  3. Wow, what an adventure. Great photos as always!

    Have a great weekend!
    Regina In Pictures

  4. Nice skies. I may just have to visit Utah.

  5. What a fantastic collection! Wonderfully adventurous!

  6. Beautiful skies, scenery with history lessons to boot. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Looks like a great place to visit and ride. I'm in a place with some similarities, but also many differences. We have mountains, but they are wet and green. We have a lake, but it is called Powell Lake not Lake Powell. And lastly, we live in a place called Hole in the Wall, not Hole in the Rock. So you see, same but different. - Margy

  8. Interesting history and a wonderful hike! The area is so beautiful. I could not imagine the work in creating a usable trail down a 45 degree grade. I like the night picture too.

  9. This has been an excellent adventure. Seems to soon to go home.
    I'm going to have to spend more time this summer exploring the Escalante.
    Wonderful post and photos.

  10. Beautiful. I agree with Louise and I, too, always look forward to your posts and pictures.

  11. More great photos from your trip!!! I've loved every minute of the trip..The view from Fifty Mile Bench was incredible. And seeing that hole in the rock---wow!!!!

    Thanks Janie for sharing!

  12. Jane,
    these are fantastic photos. I love the scenery

  13. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    These are just gorgeous! I've only been to Utah once, but I think it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. Just love those red rocks!

    The sky shots are especially nice!

  14. Beautiful! Our kids are just getting old enough now to develop an appreciation for the peculiar beauty that is Utah.

    You asked what our project was? In 1994 we were asked to review the stretch of road between Escalante and Torrey and recommend scenic overlooks etc. The project was for the BLM and they were trying to get ahead of the tourism that nearly wrecked Moab- they wanted to be better prepared to handle the crowds. This area is part of the 'Circle Tour' which is hugely popular with Europeans and surprisingly unknown to so many Utahns.

  15. It's amazing to be able to see the geology all around, and in such vivid shapes and colors. Out east it's all covered with vegetation ... or most of it.

  16. I can't imagine taking a wagon train through that rough country. It's amazing so may made it.

    Thanks for showing us this part of the country!

  17. That was much better than reality tv! Looks like it was a spectacular trip. The vistas were incredible. I loved the last shot of the moon.

  18. Beautiful! As always!!! Loved the horses' snow-break!

  19. Jane, what a wonderful series of posts. The photos are great and the trip spectacular. There is such beauty in the Creator's handy work. Thank you so much for sharing this journey.
    Smiles :}

  20. Janie: What a neat look at both the skies and the terrain of your rugged country.
    I will do some more fox shots on Saturday.

  21. I can't imagine what those first pioneers must have thought when they saw that terrain. They must have been very hardy people.
    Your photo journal is so onteresting. Thank you for sharing the trip.

  22. A snow cone break! That's great! What fun! Makes me want to get out there. :) Awesome skies, too.

  23. The hole in the rock picture is very cool. I love the sunset picture too, beautiful. The bunny pic is kind of sad, he looks so worried. I am relieved to hear that Daisy didn't notice him, I was really hoping your blog post wasn't going to end in redrum.

  24. Amazing pictures, you must feel really close to god when you get out into the wilderness like this.

  25. A wonderful post with great adventure and smashing skies.

  26. Wonderful Sky Watch, what a wonderful day you had in the most beautiful scenery ending with a spectacular sunset and night sky, Wow!

    thanks for your comment at Country Captures, I appreciate it.

  27. What a life you are leading! :) Truly truly a dream life for a person like me.

    The photo with a hole is so good!!

    My Spirit in Bedse
    Birdhouses, Birdbath, Birdfeeders



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