Sunday, January 7, 2018

A Perfect Place for Thought and Reflection - Harts Point Road.

It had been over a year since the last time we had explored Harts Point Road, so it was high time to go back.  San Juan County is chock full of places that one can go to that is peaceful and beautiful; perfect places to clear the mind and soul; leave the real world behind for just a little while.  In case you don't want to click on the link in the first sentence, let me remind you how to get there.

First choice, travel over the one paved mountain road from Monticello where you'll eventually travel down a section called Harts Draw Road.  As soon as you reach Scenic Highway 211 (road to Newspaper Rock and Canyonlands National Park - The Needles District), make a left turn and then a quick right turn onto a dirt road (sign will say Indian Creek Recreation Area).  This is also known as San Juan County Road 137, Jackson Spring and Harts Point Road.  Why all the names?  I don't truly know, but I'm telling you all the names depending on which map you use, and what map site you use on the internet.  By the way, warning you now, do NOT depend on technology out here; no cell service, no GPS, no wifi; make sure to have paper maps and written out directions.

Second choice if you do not drive over the paved (seems I have to repeat this minor detail many times) mountain road, then drive directly to Scenic Highway 211, go 9.6 miles and you will come to Harts Point Road on the right side (you just passed Harts Draw Road on your left a couple of seconds ago). Warning, you will definitely need 4 wheel drive for this sandy, sometimes rocky, sometimes driving over slickrock, road.  So now you have directions and a couple of warnings, time to see why this area is so wonderful and shouldn't be missed.  Hiking is definitely a plus, and while camping is allowed, clean up and take your trash with you!

All along this road are visible 4 wheel drive trails, no, we haven't done all of them, but the ones we have done either dead end at a camping area, and then hiking to the ledges is involved; or they just just end in the middle of nowhere (no camping area, no close hiking to viewpoints).  You'll never know until you try!  The left side of the road leads to fantastical views of the Indian Creek Valley; the surface of the ledges is slickrock full of potholes, trees and plants growing up through cracks and a few surprises.  Harts Point Road puts you at a higher elevation than Indian Creek, so you will be overlooking the #1 crack climbing walls in the world, and sites like Bridger Jack Mesa and the North and South Six can even see into the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park!!!

Indian Creek Crack Climbing Walls.
Since we were on a journey of "just enjoying the ride", I won't be giving out details of how to find the locations of the photos as I didn't bother to make notes.  Like I stated before, there are many trails to try out, so just do it!

So, lets take a gander at the Six Shooters and you can make out some of Canyonlands beyond.  We found a lovely surprise that someone had left on the ledge, a sculpture which enhanced our viewing experience. 

At another trail, we were able to get a view of Bridger Jack Mesa.

Breathless views, right?

How about the North and South Six Shooters up close.

North Six Shooter.

South Six Shooter.
...and suddenly you're overlooking the Needles.

When it comes to my photography, I'm all about the landscapes, plant life and wildlife.

Now this little guy was sitting on the fence post over at Marie's Place aka Home of Truth, while I've seen squirrels up in the forest, this was a first time for a desert dweller.

...and then there are the turkey vultures.  Seems lately, every time we go driving and hiking into desert areas, we find ourselves being circled by these guys up above.  Oh, we already know what they're thinking, "just wait awhile boys, lunch will be served soon".

Alright, now a few locals told me the name of this plant was "spiny globe yucca", but when I tried verifying this detail within my southwestern plant books, and online, nada, nope, nyet, nein, nothing.  Took me about a half hour of perusing photos online, but finally found one that had been taken inside Canyonlands, and the name is:Yucca nana (Y. harrimaniae)  Frankly, I refer to it as "spiny globe yucca" simply because that is what it looks like!

If you're going to visit this area, make sure to pack lots of water to drink and a picnic; there's nothing like sitting out on one of those ledges, the world opened up before you, and silence...and don't forget to take your trash out with you!

Mary Cokenour

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