Friday, February 12, 2016

The Final Journey - Wayne and Emery Counties.

This is part three or the final leg of our journey which began in San Juan County.  I'm combining SH 95 (Wayne County) with State Road 24 (Wayne and Emery Counties).  State Road 24 does go westward to Capitol Reef, but that write up will come another day; wait till you see the landscape along there!!!

Blue Knoll
We entered the border of Wayne County at mile mark 106 on SH95.  It was around mile mark 110.8 that we began to see formations that had quite interesting markings upon them.  The hills were etched from top to bottom which Roy explained were markings left from water levels.  Understandable, since the Utah region was a vast ocean at one time or another; the white lines through the stone were gypsum, a type of quartz crystal.  This area is called Blue Knoll; part of the Burr Desert which stretches across the highway north to south.

The Burr Desert
Henry Mountains behind Blue Knoll

Blue Knoll
Blue Knoll Closeup of Etched Lines.

Mile mark 121.8, welcome to the town of Hanksville; amenities are three restaurants, three gas/convenience stores, motels, the information center is also the town office/medical center; and a BLM office.  There are other places there, but I've listed the basics that most tourists look for.  Hollow Mountain is the general store and is built inside a sandstone hill; besides goods, there are loads of tourist related items, restrooms; and it's run by really friendly folks.  Blondie's is under new management, and not open the day we passed through; I am hoping that they will still serve the same quality food and milk shakes they have become known for. 


Hollow Mountain
Just past Hollow Mountain is the junction for State Road 24; a right turn will take you north towards Emery County and Interstate 70; stay straight and westward to Capitol Reef you go (only an hour away!).  This trip we made the right turn to complete the loop and head on home.  Now, remember the phrase, "On a clear day, you can see forever."?  Get ready to do it; you can see - North Cainesville Reef, San Rafael Reef, and way in the distance, that large mountainous formation....Temple Mountain within the San Rafael Swell.

North Cainesville Reef and San Rafael Reef

Temple Mountain in the San Rafael Swell.

Since we're now on State Road 24, it's time to reset the odometer to zero and get the mile markings up to Interstate 70.  We didn't stop until mile mark 6.3, but don't be surprised to see a hoodoo here and there along the4 way.  What are hoodoos?  Sandstone formations that look like, well small, medium to large formations of unusual shapes...pillars, mushrooms, and whatever else your mind can imagine.  The largest site of hoodoos is Goblin Valley State Park, but that's in Emery County, and we are getting close.

Mile Mark 6.3

At nine miles is the border into Emery County, you can see Molly's Castle which is in Carmel Canyon, and the overlook is at Goblin Valley State Park.  Temple Mountain is even more prominent standing over San Rafael Swell.

The road to Goblin Valley State Park, Little Wild Horse Canyon (slot canyon), and the Temple Mountain road is located at mile mark 19.7.  As you drive SR24 all the way to Interstate 70 (mile mark 43.5), you will parallel the San Rafael Swell.

Wow, this was one heck of a trip; a picnic at Hog Springs Canyon; multiple, too many to count stops for photographs; gas up at Hanksville and chatting with the staff at Hollow Mountain; we made it back home in eight hours.  Too tired to stop in Moab for dinner, all we wanted to do was get home and go to sleep!  I have to agree with my husband, Roy, though; this was definitely a most awesome day trip!!!

Mary Cokenour

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