Sunday, June 2, 2013

Looping the Abajo Mountains into Desert Landscape.

Telling visitors to Monticello about the road that loops through the Abajo Mountains gets them kind of excited; the idea of traveling up the mountain road into forest area, ATV trails, camping and lakes.  Now once you leave the boundaries of the Manti-La Sal Forest however, the road name turns to Harts Draw Road which leads down to Route 211.  Basically you now enter a whole new dimension of slickrock, shrubland and desert; those with a deep appreciation of nature and its wonderlands can't wait to explore.  Those who enjoy hiking, camping and ATV trails know its just a different way to have fun; instead of dealing with trees, it's sandstone, slickrock and sand...lots of sand.

Little bit of history and geological lesson coming up here now; the Four Corners area (where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet) is part of what is known as the Colorado Plateau.  While the Great Basin did encompass a good deal of Utah's land mass, our area of the state wasn't part of it.  However, it was underwater at sometime during the Earth's ever changing creation; reason why you can still find fossils of aquatic animals in many areas.  Long story short, the Colorado Plateau became a hodge podge of almost every ecosystem currently known to mankind; whether a resident or a visitor, you can't deny the diversified beauty of it all.  Ok, lesson over, lets get to photos, lots of photos.

As I mentioned in another blog post, the Abajo Mountain Loop Road comes to a turning point 10 miles from the Welcome Center and up the mountain road.  There are a couple of parking areas where you can look over the valley; at times all the green of the sagebrush can help you imagine what the area looked like underwater in those prehistoric eras.

As you head down Harts Draw Road there won't be any actual pull in areas, so park as close off the road as you safely can.  Simply go hiking over the slickrock and have a good workout; watch your footing though so you don't twist or break a foot or leg; step on cow patties (cow dung if you didn't know), or step on top of a Harvester Ant mound.  The ants normally won't attack if left alone, but will sting if provoked.

Or keep on driving until you reach the junction for Route 211; turn left for Newspaper Rock, the Six Shooters, Canyonlands and many other places to visit, or turn right to head back to Route 191.

You can basically pull off anywhere along the road and hike.  A good deal of the land is owned by ranchers, so if there is fencing, no trespassing and/or private property signs; these are big hints to stay off the land.

These lands are also open range, so the cattle roam free and will be walking, not just along the road side, but on the road itself.  Drive slowly, you don't want to frighten them into suddenly charging in front of your or someone else's vehicle.  There also may be calves around their mothers, so watch out that you don't injure them.

Now I just have to decide on whether to write about Marie's Place aka Home of Truth which is between Harts Draw Road and Route 191, or head back up Route 211 and tell you about Canyonlands and the Needles District.  Decisions, decisions....

Mary Cokenour

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