When you turn off Interstate 15, north of Las Vegas, and drive eastward to Valley of Fire State Park, you will at first wonder what all the fuss was about, the glowing reports you’ve heard of fantastic shapes and colors sprayed across the rocky landscape; as you start, the scenery is unrelentingly boring for mile upon mile. Browns, grays, and duller.
Don’t let that stretch of highway fool you. You’ll finally round a corner, about 25 miles out from the freeway, where your surprise will be sudden and complete. From there , it’s all unlimited discovery.
We are prone to speak of the resources of this country as inexhaustible; this is not so. —Theodore Roosevelt
Four Corners is the only location in the United States where the borders of four states meet. Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico. Native peoples have lived in this area over thousands of years, yet it remains scarcely populated. During my brief visits I’ve felt its remoteness, especially at Hovenweep (above), and the loneliness at Ship Rock. There is beauty in every direction, but it can be hard-earned.
I love the feeling of the fresh air on my face and the wind blowing through my hair. —Evel Knievel
The day after hiking to Monarch Cave, Ulrich and I drove north and west to access a hiking trail into one of the small canyons in the Butler Wash area. The weather, as it had at Monarch, threatened, but held off until we’d returned to the truck.
The little town of Bluff, Utah, is one of my favorite places in the Southwest—I could devote an entire trip to the area and discover but a fraction of the surrounding landscape. Add in friendly people, a variety of lodging (or camping), a good coffeehouse…and it’s pretty hard to beat.
Recapture Pocket is a small area about ten miles away from town; half on paved highway, half on a bumpy sometimes-4WD-track. Get directions at the Bluff Fort Visitors Center before you go out.
Intent on our destinations, how many anonymous places do we pass along The Road without slowing, or glancing out a window to see what we’re missing?
Driving southeast from Hanksville, Utah, towards Blanding, I pulled into an unnamed, unsigned graveled area off the highway and parked my truck. A few minutes to stretch the legs, rest tired eyes, listen to the quiet (which hummed in the twilight), and look around. That was all I wanted. This is what I found.
The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see. —Gilbert K. Chesterton