The Road Less Traveled … Spring 2011

We are doing a multi-week camping trip out west in Evie, our VW poptop van.  I’m not blogging about the trip because Gwyneth does plenty of that on a daily basis on her blog.

However, I’m writing this post to log some of the “definitely worth a visit” places we have been to that are not as famous as, say, the Grand Canyon or Yosemite.  I’ll update this as the trip progresses.

  • Best scenery while driving: back roads around Four Corners in the area of Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley.  Amazing view of red and colorful sandstone mesas and rock formations for over an hour of driving.  It is kind of like the inverse of the Grand Canyon.  Some of the drive is also along the San Juan River, which drains some of the mountains of SW Colorado into Lake Powell from the east.  How: From US 160 in Colorado NW of Four Corners, travel Utah and Arizona state roads through the towns of Aneth, Montezuma Creek, Bluff, Mexican Hat, Kayenta.  In Bluff, stop at Navajo Pizza at Twin Rocks Cafe.  Gwyneth has some photos of the drive posted here.
  • Mesa Verde National Park.  This park rocks!  I would love to return for several days of day hikes or an extended overnight hike.  Ample camping that supposedly never fills up.  Amazing elevated canyons that are lush and green, combined with amazing cliff dwellings (much more impressive than Gila).  Some look like small cities.  Gwyneth describes our day there here.
  • Mt. Diablo State Park.  This is a California State park just east of the Bay Area near Danville, CA.  The highest campground, Juniper, is at over 3000 feet.  The peak of Mt. Diablo is supposedly the #2 spot in the world for the amount of land area visible from the peak (a feature of its relative height vs. the surrounding area).  Here is an amazing shot taken our campsite taken when I woke up – we were above the cloud cover!
  • Capitol Reef National Park. Bryce and Zion get all the attention, but this nearby Utah park is worth the drive – the Capitol Gorge drive, that is.  You can drive the wash of a narrow gorge (assuming no rain that is!) for a fascinating bottom up view.
  • Goblin Valley State Park. Possibly the coolest place we have camped.  This Utah State Park is full of mushroom-like rock formations called “goblins.”  The campsite is surrounded by soft sandstone cliffs that are fun for climbing and scrambling.
  • More great scenery while driving: …
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