Four Corners Roadtrip, 08.16
I began planning for a long vacation (two weeks) earlier in the year. It had been six years since taking that much time off. I began looking at a big route through the Four Corners Area (UT, CO, NM, AZ) back in the beginning of the year. Websites bookmarked, read and a Google map made that at least provided a rough outline of destinations.
So final preparations were made, gear gone through and repacked. Since I was going to be on the road for 12 days or so, I tried to pack lighter than normal. The ARB Rack for the truck came in literally that friday afternoon, so I spent a few hours friday night installing it, which provided a nice spot to store the Oz Tent and a few other pieces. Was up early the next morning, got groceries and hit the road.
The Grand Canyon was my first real scenic stop, although I did wander through the Planes of Fame air museum south of the park, so there are some new aeronautical details here. I camped at the east end of the park (mild rain), the weather was nice, but it was quite touristy.
From there I went up the the Navajo National Monument, it was much more low-key and there was abundant camping in an established site, no charge and pit toilets. Moderate rain that evening. Got up early the next day and made my way through Monument Valley, Mexican Hat, Goosenecks and after that its a bit of a blur of where days and locations align. I have notes and an APRS track, so if you would like to know specifics, just drop me an email.
Valley of the Gods is located right outside of Bluff UT, and is a smaller version of Monument Valley. Its located on BLM land, so dispersed camping is permitted. I took a spur road out on top of a small mesa and set up camp. It was a beautiful spot, and then the weather blew in.
When I say the weather blew in, boy do I mean it. I watched the system build and at 1130 that night the wind picked up. Blowing hard and I could hear gear moving around, so at midnight I got up as it started sprinkling and took the table down, checked all the stakes and basically buttoned up anything that was likely to blow away. By the time I got that done it was raining, then it really began pouring. Full on monsoon with 30 mph winds. Pretty much just laid in bed and waited for the tent to blow away with me in it. It held up, one minor leak on the windward side where the window comes together. I left the top vents open and this proved to be a mistake. When I set up camp, the slope of the tent was into the wind but when that system came up, the wind changed 180 degrees, so now was blowing against the square/upright part of the tent. Even with the top vents blocked off from inside, it was a bit humid and eventually wet. So, up early the next morning for a nice breakfast in Bluff, then an hour in the coin-op to dry everything out. I stayed in a hotel the next night, lol.
From there, I took in the Four-Corners Monument, Shiprock, drove the back-way over Cedar Mesa (along the Cockscombs), down through Moki Dugway and then backtracked up towards Ouray, CO.
I was headed to Ouray for the second annual 200 Series meetup for a few days of wheeling in the Land Cruiser with a group of other 200 Series owners. After that I made a loop through Mesa Verde and cut my loop a bit shorter and headed straight down to Canyon De Chelly. That is a really neat spot, if you haven’t done so I definitely recommend adding it you your bucket list.
Then it was time to head westward, so I proceeded through the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. I will go back there some day, I didn’t get to spend much time there, but it seems to be a large park with lots to explore. Considering its location (next to nowhere) it was pretty busy with tourists.