Monday, March 31, 2014

All Roads Lead to Montezuma Canyon - Bradford Canyon Road (CR 202).

...wait for it, wait for it...alright, I'm ready to write it up now. Finding Bradford Canyon Road, and the ruins associated with it, had to be one of the biggest stresses we have encountered yet. How to explain why this stress was so different; when we're adventuring, the adrenaline rush causes an overall stress to the mind and body. The next day though, we wake up refreshed and raring to get going on our next adventure. This time the stress was due to annoyance and anger; we couldn't find the ruins due to the misinformation we found on the internet. We couldn't find the road itself due to the lack of road signs and lack of information about the canyon; and when we did find the road, we couldn't even ride it all the way through due to its condition.  However, just when we were ready to totally give up and head home feeling defeated; WE FOUND THE RUINS!!!  The instructions we found on the internet said they were two to three miles, on Bradford Canyon Road, from the Deadman Canyon Road junction...WRONG!!!  Alright, enough complaining and now the entire story; I better post the map first, so it can be easier to follow along.

Artwork by Kelly Pugh
...and a little history behind the name.  Bradford Canyon is named after Sylvester Bradford and his wife Thora Black who met in 1919 as teenagers, and married shortly thereafter.  Sylvester was instrumental in the development of a tunnel that would help provide a water source to the town of Blanding.  Of course this took place in the Abajo Mountains, and the canyon itself is way over on the other side of what is now Route 191.

Story from "Western Pioneer Settlers, Vol. 1 - They Came to Grayson"

Bradford Canyon's true claim to fame is the vast amount of vanadium and uranium extracted from the various minds in the area.  One such mine was the North Star which was bought over by Charles Robert King of Grand Junction, Colorado; he renamed it the Leo J, but it was also known as the Lucky Strike Mine.  Not so very lucky for Charles though; mining since 1925, he purchased the mine in 1954 and was only working it for two months before tragedy struck.  As reported in the Deseret News, November 03, 1954; Charles had laid, and was firing, 15 charges of dynamite when one went off prematurely.  Charles was killed; his son, Ralph King (18 years old) suffered from a fractured skull, broken collar bone and both legs broken.

Now to our adventure; if you look at the map I've posted, Bradford Canyon (CR 202) and Deadman Canyon (CR 2381) Roads meet at a certain point and lead out to Montezuma Canyon Road (CR 146).  Besides trying to find the ruins I've only found two photos of on the internet, not in any books of the area, we wanted to travel the road and see what there was to see.  From the junction of CR 146, we traveled up CR 2381 about 8/10th of a mile till we found another road; it was graded dirt for about 3 miles until we found a petroleum storage tank.  Then the road turned impassable for the SUV; rough, potholed, uneven with rocks; in other words, great to travel if you're on an ATV, rock crawler, mountain or dirt bike, or using just your own two feet for hiking.  No ruins though, but we did see large square-like openings up on the wall face; not sure if they were mines at one time, or the dumping chutes for tailings.

Back tracking to CR 146, we had decided to head on home; we were feeling disappointed, annoyed and defeated by then.  When what to our tired, yet still wandering, eyes did we spy...who put those ruins there!!??!!  That's right, the ruins were only a half mile north of the CR 146/CR 2381 junction; a dirt trail which loops down to and in front of the fenced in ruin site, and back to CR 146 again. 

A local resident

The large amount of ruins along the ledges simply put us in awe; we walked up and down along the lower walls looking for any rock art, but none was to be found.  A local resident and his family did make an appearance though.

Surprisingly, we found our energy, and attitude, had been renewed here; we decided to travel up Deadman Canyon Road to its ending (or beginning) on Alkali Point Road and search for the other side of Bradford Canyon Road there.  This way I could, at least, be able to mark it down on the map I have been creating of the canyons, and note at what point it was not suitable for a standard vehicle.
Cutting to the chase, we get to Alkali Point Road and begin driving north towards its junction with Mustang Road; we'd only gone about a mile before we saw a graded dirt road to the east.  No signs, not marked on any of the maps, but we decided to check it out anyway...don't, it leads to another petroleum storage tank.  Back track to the Alkali and north again; another mile and another graded dirt road (about 5.3 miles south of the Alkali Point and Mustang Roads junction) without a sign; yep, we repeated the procedure.
We'd gone about five (5) miles when we meet up with a wire and wooden post fence across the road; what the heck!?!  Suddenly Roy remembers a crucial piece of information, "Hey hunny", he says, "maybe I should hook up the GPS and see what it says."  I'm sure you can all imagine the look on my face, and I will not repeat the words that flew out of my mouth.  Guess what the GPS told us; yeppers, we were on Bradford Canyon Road; since there was no sign saying keep out or no trespassing, I jumped out of the SUV, opened the gate, Roy drove the vehicle through and I made sure to close up the gate tightly once again.  That's when the lovely graded dirt road did a Jekyll and Hyde on us; it turned into an uneven road of sand, dirt, rocks for about a mile before reaching a split in the road.  I tell you one thing, the views of Bradford Canyon are pretty spectacular from this road; at one point we could see Sleeping Ute Mountain in the distance.


Alright Mr. GPS, where do we go from here, left or right? According to it, going right would lead to Deadman Canyon Road and off we bounced on the potholed, rocky dirt trail. Yeah, that section of roadway from the wire/wooden post fence to the split was a picnic compared to what we were on now. We'd gone only a couple of miles before the canyon scenery opened up before us again; indeed, there was Deadman Canyon Road, I could actually see it! Could we possibly be almost there; would we actually get all the way through to Montezuma Canyon Road?

I do hope you weren't holding your breath for this one; we began a decline around one corner and met with the evil twin of the road we found impassable from the Deadman Canyon/Montezuma Canyon Roads section.  The GPS verified the route; in other words, unless you are on an ATV, rock crawler, mountain or dirt bike, or hiking; a standard vehicle will not make it through.  Ah, but then here's the secret revealed about why there are no road signs for Bradford Canyon Road (CR 202); it's to keep it exclusive to locals only!  It's not even listed on the San Juan County ATV Trails map available at the Welcome Centers.  Now you know where it is and do some ATV adventuring of your own; thanks to yours truly and my hubby.

Not being able to complete the entire road and explore the canyon truly disappointed us.  The next day we both felt as if we'd been dragged over the road, instead of driving it.  So, Bradford Canyon Road is going to have to go back onto the "to-do" list for the day we have the proper vehicle to maneuver the entire adventure from start to finish.

Mary Cokenour


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dodge Point; Named After a City, Not a Pioneer.

On our quest to explore the canyons and roads between Monticello and Blanding, there is also the quest of finding information, especially on the background of the designated names. In a book I recently purchased about names in Utah, Dodge Point was so named before the pioneers first settled in Bluff, or continued the trek up to Monticello.

There was a reference to a Hole in the Rock pioneer, James Harvey Dunton, whose second wife was Mary Anne Dodge; sorry Mary Anne, you can't take credit for the naming. The southeastern section of Utah was already being used for cattle ranching since the 1860's; the Texas ranchers being associated with the Carlisle Cattle Company based in Colorado and Kansas...Dodge City, Kansas to be more precise.

Dodge Road (CR 188) is only a half mile past (traveling south on Route 191) the Verdure historical site; a short road of only 6.3 miles of alternating graded dirt or gravel, before it dead ends at a few old farm buildings.  There are many, and I mean many, warning signs on the fence indicating "private property", "no trespassing", "violators will be prosecuted", "violators will be shot on sight".  Alright, I'm only kidding about the last sign, but then again, I wouldn't take the chance.  The road goes primarily through farmland; many with the designation of being "cooperative wildlife management areas", and it parallels Dodge Point.

In my researching of the area, I came across the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) which had an eyewitness reported sighting of a Bigfoot in February 2012.  They also stated that Dodge Point had Bigfoot sightings dating back to when the pioneers began settling the area back in the 1880s.  Cryptozoology is not one of my interests, so I cannot give you much else on this area regarding that "science".

One mile south of Dodge Road is an unnamed county road, CR 189; it is privately owned (how do you privately own a county road?), gated closed; it parallels Dodge Canyon, but you won't be seeing that canyon from this road.

...and that folks, is that.  There was so little information about this area, including in personal stories written by the pioneers; they didn't even rename the area once they kicked the ranchers out and took the land over.

However, if you happen to see a  Bigfoot; take a photo and send it to BFRO with all the pertinent information.

Mary Cokenour

Thursday, March 27, 2014

All Roads Lead to Montezuma Canyon - More Ruins and Rock Art at the Southern End.

This adventure began with two goals in mind: #1 - find the Bradford Canyon Ruins and #2 - find where Bradford Canyon Road connects with Deadman Canyon Road and drive it through.  We achieved both goals which I will write about at a later time; for now, though, I need to tell you about what we found along the way....more ruins and rock art along CR 146.

We had already been told by several locals that Montezuma Canyon Road is chock full of sites to explore, and who knows how many have yet to be found.  The poor map I've made has been updated once again, and I won't be surprised when I finally run out of room for my little arrows and notifications. 

Since our goals were closer to the southern end of CR 146, we drove Route 191 south to Blanding, checked out a couple of roads along the way of course, stopped at the A & W to pickup a bagged lunch before going off east on Perkins Road (CR 206).  We also had one of our dogs with us, Jenna, who we had promised a day out of romping around, and we knew there were flat areas she would be safe in.

Our first stop was at the corral just a half mile north of the junction of 206 and 146; Jenna could run around to her heart's content.  While Roy kept an eye on her, I decided to play with the zoom lens along the walls.  There were the paintings and carvings we had found back in January, but hold up a sec; what's on the front of that huge boulder?  Holy moly, more artwork we had not seen before; while we were along the ledges, we had to climb behind the boulders, so missed some things on the face of them. As with many of the sites we have found, there is a natural path; well it looks natural, but I'm sure it was created by the ancestral people who walked it.

Back on the road again and it was around the 5.6 mile mark when something caught the corner of my eye.  We had passed by a dirt trail heading west and I made Roy back up to it; glad he doesn't mind when it's in the pursuit of adventure.  At road level was what appeared to have been a granary at one time; more rock art was on the wall as you walked to the left.  Now the rock art was very unusual as it depicted a horse drawn wagon, and instead of the typical stick figures, the people looked to have clothing on.  So it makes me wonder, was this the Native Americans telling the story of when the Hole-in-the-Rock pioneers first came to San Juan County?  Since this area is nearer to Blanding than Bluff, could it have been the pioneers sent up to Verdure (the first Monticello)?

View south from 5.6 mile mark

Is this depicting the Hole-in-the-Rock pioneers in San Juan County?

This dirt trail loops at the end of it and back onto CR 146 we were when suddenly I screamed, "Stop!" which scared the bejesus out of poor Roy.  We had only gotten 1/10th of a mile before I saw ruins up a small incline; rock art on the wall over them.  Again, a natural path gave me, not easy, but easier access to explore them; the ceiling was very low, so I was hunched over the entire time I was inside.  The larger figure in the rock art is the lizard which is seen at almost every site along Montezuma Canyon Road.

At the seven mile mark would be Three Kiva Pueblo; Deadman Canyon Road was only about two miles further north, so we knew we were almost to our goal area.  We had only driven 8/10ths of a mile before we both noticed the "holes" in one of the walls to the west.  Were they ruin doorways or windows, entrances to mines or simply just caves; well lets go find out!  Driving the dirt trail (it dead ends at a corral, or loops around the other way back to CR 146) nearer to them, sure enough, they were ruins and there were more further along the wall to the north of the "holes".  This time I stayed ground level while Roy climbed the much steeper pathway up to them; granaries, but not as broken apart as the ones we had just visited a few miles before. 

There were a few other cave like openings, but we truly could not tell if it was simply fallen rock inside, or ruins which had fallen apart or been destroyed.  As you can see, it could take days, weeks, months to explore everything you find; it's vast!

View across to CR 146

Besides the sagebrush and prickly bushes in the area, the occasional cactus can be found; this time it was a claret cup, but too early in the season to be blooming.

Anyway, our original goals were Deadman Canyon Road (CR 2381) and the Bradford Canyon Ruins...wait for it, wait for it...

Mary Cokenour

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fill 'Er Up at Red Cliffs Lodge's Cowboy Grill.

Cowboy Grill at Red Cliffs Lodge

Mile 14 on Highway 128
Moab, Utah, 84532

Telephone: (435) 259-2002 or (866) 812-2002



We have always wanted to try out the Cowboy Grill at Red Cliffs Lodge, but thought, due to the outside packaging that we could never afford it.  Were we wrong and happy about that!  First off, a little background about the area and the Lodge compound before I get to the restaurant.  The location is only 14 miles east on Route 128 outside of Moab; the roadway parallels the Colorado River and is spectacular scenery wise.  At the entrance, a large sign will direct you to either reception/restaurant or the Castle Creek Winery.  Going along the drive, you'll pass by the corral and see the cabins available for rental; there is also a pool/spa, so basically everything you need for a glorious vacation in the red rocks of Moab.

The inside of the Lodge is stunning with the Old West decor; there are meeting rooms available, a museum and gift shop.  Brochures galore are all over offering all the sites any visitor would want to indulge in.

What truly impressed us was the staff, so very friendly and helpful; not once were we made to feel like we "didn't belong", considering we were only there for the Sunday brunch, and not staying at the Lodge itself.   We paid for our meals at the front desk, took the short walk to the restaurant area and chose a table at the windows.  There is also seating outside and the view is truly to die for!

Once again, the friendliest staff ever, from the omelet chef to the gentleman who made sure all the hot food items were kept full.  Diane, aka the "Head Guru of Breakfast", made sure that our every need was met, and her smile was infectious; simply adored that woman!  The buffet area is in sections; hot foods, fruits and cobblers, the meats (bacon, ham, sausage), omelet station, pastries near the coffee and tea (to-go containers are available)...all-you-can-eat!!!

Talk about delicious!!!  Made to order omelets, fluffy scrambled or southwestern eggs, the pancakes and biscuits are the airyous, the meats are thick and they even served up thin slices of "melt in the mouth" prime rib in a mild barbecue sauce; we were in brunch heaven.

Whenever we're in the mood for a Sunday brunch, you can bet your bottom dollar that you'll find us at the Cowboy Grill at Red Cliffs Lodge.  By the way, they also serve up daily breakfast and lunch buffets, and nightly dinners.  Our wedding anniversary is in October, so you know where we'll be having our celebration the Cowboy Grill.
Mary Cokenour