The scenic drive was almost completely paved, and very easy to travel so that tourists can take their motorhomes and compact cars. Still very pretty. There are some abandoned uranium mines that are now home to bats:
I really liked this little tree by the side of the road:
We ate lunch at at pavilion up a canyon that was the start of a hike. It was busy! There were a ton of foreigners driving around in their rented RVs:
After lunch we hit the trail. We stopped a little way out to let the dogs play since we finally weren't surrounded by a ton of people:
We could just see the distant snowy mountains peeking through:
The trail got a bit rougher than expected, but Oliver (the trailer) was a champ and didn't have any problems:
As we started to climb out of the valley we were in, there was a fantastic view:
Then we climbed to the other side of the ridge and there was another fantastic view. Notice the little arch in the cliff. I really loved that ridge of rocks that looks like the plates on a stegasaurus:
The trail was much easier from here on. At one point we drove through a wash that was just a beautiful green grassy spot in the middle of the desert:
The road kept climbing as it went on, the desert turned into pine forest, and we started to get back into some snow. Pat was getting a little worried that we were headed the wrong direction. I'm always the navigator and I knew we were going the right way. Plus, I was driving at the time so I just kept going. The roads here were obviously well used, and were even plowed a bit even though they were dirt. We finally hit the highway and headed south.
Down in the valley it was a balmy 62 degrees and the had the tops off the Jeep. It got a little cooler as we climbed the mountain, and eventually we hit the road's summit at 9600 feet. There was a 4 foot high wall of snow at the side of the road. It was a bit chilly by this point, probably in the low 50s, but we knew we were headed back down again so we just toughed it out. We stopped at a viewpoint that looked out over where we were headed. Gorgeous! The air was a little hazy though:
We finally got down to Boulder - not much there, so we headed on up the Burr Trail. That was very pretty red rock cliffs and since it was nice and warm again it had us wishing for Lake Powell.
A little way after the road went back into the park, there was a section of switchbacks to get us back down to the valley floor. Whoever first looked at that mountainside and decided to put a road there was insane! It was SO steep. I didn't get a very good shot, but this is looking down from the top:
This whole day had taken quite a bit longer than we had anticipated, so we decided to camp at the other primitive campspot in the park, which was on our road. We got there and found out it was full. The road left the park and entered BLM land, so we thought that maybe we could find somewhere to camp there. There was a small section of privatley owned land too. As we drove through their fields were full of deer:
There was a turkey running around too!
We got to the BLM land and it was empty, flat, desolate and really windy. The main campground wasn't too far away, so we decided we would stay the night there again. We finally arrived only to find that it was full too! We didn't have time or gas to make it all the way into Cathedral Valley, so we decided to head to town, get gas, and see if we could find a campground up there to stay at.
Most of the campgrounds were specifically for RVs and wanted to charge us an arm and a leg. We finally found one that had tent sites that were fairly reasonable and decided to stay there . The office was closed for the night so the manager told us to just settle up in the morning. We got out to use the restroom before setting up camp, and it was so cold and windy there I changed my mind and we left. I decided I'd rather spend the night in the back of the Jeep again down in the valley where it was warm.
It was pretty late at this point, so we stopped and the only open restaurant in town to eat some dinner. It was actually really tasty! (Of course, that might also have been because we were really hungry.)
We drove all the way though the park again and entered the BLM land on the other side. We finally found a specified parking pullout the went a little way away from the road and parked to camp there, just sleeping in the Jeep again. In the morning we could read the sign that was in the parking lot, telling us that if we had followed the nearby dirt road for 1/4 mile, there was a camping spot. Oh, well.