Utah Trip – 10/19/2022-10/24/2022

It is a great time of year to travel in the Southwest. With a particular restaurant as the objective, we set our destination as Boulder, UT. And for this trip – not camping with our R-Pod but staying in a BnB in Boulder and commercial lodging traveling to and from.

Day 1-  Albuquerque to Bluff, UT:  Keeping the daily driving distance and time moderate to make the trip relaxing, we limited legs to 300 miles or so (4-5 hours). From Albuquerque: I-25 to Bernalillo, US 550 to Farmington (enroute, breakfast burrito in Cuba, NM), then US 64 to Teec Nos Pos, US 161, US 191, and US 163 to Bluff. We stayed that 1st night in the Mokee Motel in Bluff, UT.

Day 2 – Bluff to Boulder, UT: Wishing to avoid well-traveled roads, we set out from Bluff to take lesser roads: US 191 to near Mexican Hat, then UT 261 north to UT 95 to Hanksville. From there UT 24 – UT 12 to Boulder. The territory is generally flat and open high desert, straight roads through an area identified as Valley of the Gods – it was easy driving.

The road maps depicted UT 261 to be paved – except for a short section not far from US 163. We soon discovered why – the Moki Dugway. Through the Valley of the Gods the road is at an elevation of 5,400 feet, but it encounters the edge of Cedar Mesa, elevation 6,400 feet – a change of 1,000 feet elevation in less than half a mile. Modi Dugway, a dirt/gravel road, ascends that 1,000 feet with some wicked switchbacks and views over the edge with huge drop offs (the road is a generous two lanes wide with guardrails in some sections.

The drive on to Boulder was scenic as we passed through amazing geologic formations in this part of Utah, such places as Natural Bridges National Monument, across the upper end of Lake Powell (Hite Crossing and the Glen Canyon Recreation Area), Capital Reef National Park, and other areas along the way. Arriving in Boulder and getting settled in the Lower Boulder Bed and Breakfast, we headed to -the- restaurant, Hells’ Backbone Grill & Farm, getting there early enough to sit inside without a reservation. Quite good food for a place so far out in the Utah hinterlands.

Day 3 – Hiking: We stayed 2 nights in the Lower Boulder Bed and Breakfast. On the first day, after reading reviews of trails in the area and talking to Ellie, our hostess, we decided on the Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail for our hike. It was a good choice; check the BLOG post Lower Calf Creek Canyon Waterfall Trail Hike – 10/21/2022 for particulars. After the hike we drove a bit further down UT 12 to the Kiva Koffeehouse and enjoyed drinks.

Day 4 – Boulder to Tuba City, AZ: We had planned for a 2nd day of hiking, but … 1) snow and cold were coming into the area, and 2) we learned that the trails we had in mind were maybe not for us. At breakfast we talked with a young couple staying at the BnB who had hiked a couple of the slot canyons the day before. From their descriptions and photos, we learned that the slot canyons were very challenging – big rocks or rock falls in places blocking passage, and in some places the “slot” was only 10″ wide. So, we decided to bail on Boulder and drove to Tuba City.

On the way out of Boulder we stopped again at Kiva Koffehouse. The drive to Tuba City on US highways makes for a very long trip. Ellie suggested we take a shorter route, Cottonwood Road (FR 400) from UT 12 at Cannonville, south to US 89. FR 400 is a well used 2-lane, sanded and graded road used by locals whenever going south. Along the way we drove into Kodachrome Basin State Park (camping and photo ops here). Further along we checked out  Cottonwood Narrows, thinking we might make a short hike – at the north end we were faced with a 12 foot drop to get into the canyon, and at the south end a 15 foot high pile of huge boulders. With more time, we might have attempted it, but we were enroute to Tuba City.

We continued (making really good time on this unpaved road) to US 89, then east where we crossed the Colorado River at the Glen Canyon Dam which backs up Lake Powell. Then on to Tuba City where we stayed for the night in the NavajoLand Hotel of Tuba City.

Day 5 – Tuba City to Window Rock, AZ: We chose this route because it crosses Navajo and in particular Hopi Reservations. On the way from Tuba City, we took a short side trip to look into Coal Mine Canyon. The geologic formations are amazing – shapes and colors – worth a visit on a future trip. We also stopped at the Hope Cultural Center, hoping learn more about the Hopi Tribe, but there was little information tho’ we did enjoy Hopi fare for lunch. Then on to Window Rock, spending the night in the Navajoland Inn.

Day 6 – Window Rock to Albuquerque – An easy drive home on highway 265 and I-40 after a great trip exploring a small part of southern Utah and northeastern Arizona.

Related Posts

Lower Calf Creek Canyon Waterfall Trail Hike – 10/21/2022

 References and Resources

Boulder.Utah: Greetings from Boulder
VisitUtah: Boulder
Utah.com: Boulder
                     Lower Boulder Bed and Breakfast
                     Hells’ Backbone Grill & Farm
                     Kiva Koffeehouse

Drive from Boulder to Tuba City
Utah State Parks: Kodachrome Basin State Park
VisitUtah: Kodachrome Basin State Park
Utah.com: Kodachrome Basin State Park

VisitUtah: Cottonwood Canyon Narrows
AllTrails: Cottonwood Narrows South to North Trailhead
American Southwest: Cottonwood Wash Narrows
Road Trip Ryan: Cottonwood Wash Narrows

Drive from Tuba City to Window Rock
American Southwest: Coal Mine Canyon

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