Monday, November 9, 2015

Autumn in the Abajo Mountains.

In October 2015, Roy and I took three trips up through the Abajo Mountains/Manti-LaSal Forest to look at the fall colors.  It was a chance for us to take the dogs up to Johnson Creek and picnic, while they played in the water.  It also gave us the chance to finally find out where the road goes, and what there was to see, from the split at South Cottonwood Road.  It was a good thing we didn't keep putting this off, as it snowed the first week of November and the mountains are now donning a cloak of white.

The first trip up was spur of the moment, so we simply drove the paved road up to the ten mile point where Foy Lake can be accessed; went round the curve to continue down Harts Draw Road to Route 211.  Nothing time consuming, just a pleasant drive for the late afternoon; the trees were getting deep into their fall colors of yellow, orange, red; intermingling with evergreens and tall, white Colorado Aspens.

View of Indian Creek Valley from Harts Draw Road

The second time up, we took Johnson Creek Road (FR 079); the turn off for this is about 5 miles up on the paved road; look for the sign that says "Blanding, Indian Creek, Nizhoni".  This is a beautiful drive through forest, around mountains, stupendous vistas of valleys which will either bring you down to the town of Blanding, or you could take FR 095 through Dry Wash and The Causeway.

Twin Peaks Panorama

One Mile North of Robertson Pasture.

Johnson Creek

Colorado Aspens

We did continue on into Blanding to top off the gas tank; at first we were going to return home via Route 191, but the day was still young, so we decided to head on down to State Highway 95 and South Cottonwood Road.  It was a sunny, clear day, so why not find out where that other road went to from the split.  South Cottonwood Road (CR 228) is 6.3 miles from the junction of SH 95/Route 191; this is where you'll find the remains of the Cottonwood Millsite, but we drove on past that to the 7.7 mile mark.  At the split, left becomes FR 092 which will take you, eventually, to FR 088, the backway to Elk Ridge and Big Notch (northward), or Arch Canyon and Bears Ears (southward).  However, we intended on going right this time which took us through Ute Tribal Land (stay on the roadway!), and at 8.2 miles we were welcomed with a sign, "Entering the Manti-LaSal Forest"; South Cottonwood Road was now FR 106.

Sites Along South Cottonwood Road/FR 106

The Beehives

It wouldn't be until mile mark 17.1 that we would reach FR 095 which we could follow along The Causeway and Dry Wash, and, you guessed it...FR 079 and down into Blanding.

FR 106 connects onto FR 095, and the Chippean Ridge is visible as you climb up and around; take the right onto FR 095 to head towards Blanding.

Going through the forest, grey formations began to appear and suddenly there they were around another corner...the Chippean Rocks.

A stop at Maverick Point Overlook is always worth the time; the information board gives the story of the landscape, with a map of the sites in the distance.

The Causeway, on both sides, gives awesome vistas; the sun was beginning its descent, so the landscape was still beautiful, just not as lit up as usual.

This is on the opposite side of the road; used a panorama technique to cause this straight stretch of road to fold in on itself.

Oh, the third time up; well we were up at The Causeway when we noticed that Jenna had lost her collar.  There was no way to retrace our steps, since sunset would be upon us soon; so we went back, the next day, along Johnson Creek Road (FR 079), and found it at the creek area where we picnicked.  Thankfully it was on the grassy area and had not fallen into the creek itself, or somewhere in the underbrush.  Note to selves: after Jenna goes romping, check she has her collar before leaving!

Mary Cokenour

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