|BLM Visitor's Guide|
|San Rafael Reef (Route 24 near Goblin Valley State Park)|
Now back to the road with no name sign; I've seen it referred to as "Temple Mountain Road", "Temple Junction" and "Hidden Splendor Road"; I like the hidden splendor theme and you'll see why once you get past the tall walls of weathered rock.
Anyway, once you hit the dirt road, it is referred to as "Temple Mountain Trail", since that is the first named formation you'll end up near. It is pretty impressive and I made sure to take photos from several angles to get its complete story. This area was mined heavily for uranium, so you will come upon abandoned mines, equipment and building ruins. Look, but don't touch, or go into, as they are unsafe.
|San Rafael Swell|
By the way, you're now traveling though the San Rafael Swell; a giant dome-shaped anticline of sandstone, shale, and limestone that was heaved upward during the Paleocene Laramide Orogeny Era (60-40 million years ago). The Swell is approximately 75 miles long by 40 miles wide, but don't let those numbers deceive you into believing you can travel the Swell in very little time. Enough words, let the photos do the speaking for me...
Look at the sandstone walls, all those multicolored strata indicate different millennia of formation. An opening in a wall might be the site of an abandoned uranium mine, or the den of one of the local desert residents, like the rattlesnake.
Two more formations to show you, and then this adventure comes to a close. A common formation is the pyramid shape and not every one you see in every area has a name associated with it. However, Flat Top Mesa (6480 feet above sea level) is along this road; once we reached a point of decision (fork in the road), well not knowing where we actually were, or what was ahead (no destination signs), we decided to turn around and go back the way we had come.
|Flat Top Mesa|
We're hoping the winter snows do not come early this year and that we can make a complete trek to one of the I-70 exits in November. Snacks, bottled water, full tank of gas and, most definitely, maps in hand should get us through this time. Oh yes, and the cameras, cannot forget the cameras!