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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > And So It Ends - Cathedral Valley/Thousand Lake Mtn.

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seldomseensmith

Flagstaff, AZ

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Posted: 09/28/09 02:58pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

On this outing I've focused my attention on Dark Canyon and the surrounding area, and I've only managed to scratch the surface of what there is to see. Sadly for me the time I have is winding down, and I begin the inevitable trek home. The good news is the span between home and the road leads to another crowd pleaser - Cathedral Valley.

The route to Cathedral Valley is one of my all time favorites - Caineville Wash Road. The country here is stark, mostly barren, and full of beautiful geology. The naked rock and soil reveals all of the glory of the sculpting power of nature, and the harsh, unforgiving nature of the environment all but guarantees solitude.

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This amazingly beautiful region is part of Capitol Reef National Park. The geography of Capitol Reef is such that the majority of visitors only experience a small slice of the wonders contained here, along Utah Highway 24. To get the most out the experience however, you need to leave the highway (of course).

The turnoff is located approximately 10 miles east of the Park boundary on Utah 24, near the bump in the road called Caineville. This dirt road heads north, at first rolling along between the base of North Caineville Mesa and Caineville Wash.

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After a couple of miles, it crosses the normally dry streambed, and begins climbing through some beautiful bentonite badlands to outcroppings of white sandstone.

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I frequently camp here, with great views south to Capitol Reef, east to North Caineville Mesa, and north to Factory Butte.

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This would be a good finale for the trip as the weather had cleared, and believe me when I say this is definitely a road to avoid when it's wet. I arrived late in the afternoon, made camp and enjoyed the quiet serenity of the desert.

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The next morning I set out west, heading for Cathedral Valley and my eventual camp spot for the night, Thousand Lake Mountain.

Because of the sandstone ridge, the road winds in and out of many small drainages and over patches of slickrock.

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In the foreground, multicolored hills of clay and silt dot the landscape. Rain is scarce here but when it comes the soil erodes quickly, washes down into the valleys. In this area the mudstone layer is many feet deep, and forms an inescapable trap for the unwary traveler when wet.

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After leaving behind the ridge of sandstone, the road makes steady progress to the west. Many small washes and sandy drainages cross the trail, enforcing a leisurely pace. In the distance the hulking mass of the Thousand Lake plateau looms over the barren expanse of the valley. Fall colors high on the mountain promise the end of another summer.

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Soon the formations that inspire the name of the basin appear - fluted columns of easily eroded rock herald the entrance to Cathedral Valley.

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Soon afterwards the turnoff to some prominent lower valley features appears.

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Glass Mountain is not a mountain at all, but a outcropping of gypsum. Gypsum is a salt, and these crystals were fused together underground before erosion exposed this formation.

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The Temple of the Sun and Moon are large spires of rock marooned from the larger formation by time and weather.

Temple of the Sun

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Temple of the Moon

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Temple of the Sun (foreground), Temple of the Moon (background)

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The road continues on through the valley, with every turn revealing more majestic pinnacles, spires, and columns.

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Just beyond the temples, the road enters the National Park. From here until the upper mountain, camping is restricted to developed sites.

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Meanwhile the scenery just keeps coming.

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At the head of the valley, the road begins a steep, rocky climb to the shoulders of the mountain. In a matter of a mile or so, you'll be rewarded with great views of the desert below.

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Leaving the drier, hotter terrain below, juniper and pinon pine trees begin appear in abundance. Here the traveler can choose to make a loop back to Highway 24, this time staying somewhat higher on a formation called the Hartnet. Here overlooks afford great views of Cathedral Valley and the domes of Capitol Reef. Or they can do as I did, climbing higher still over the lofty flanks of Thousand Lake Mountain.

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Thousand Lake Mountain offers cool respite from the heat of the valley below during the warm summer months. Its heavily forested slopes are a favorite with hunters also, and I am surprised on this trip to have the mountain to my self.

Some of the aspens are near the peak of fall color, although quite a few groves have yet to turn at all.

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Besides a beautiful alpine environment, Thousand Lake offers outstanding views of the surrounding area. On a clear day, the north end of Capitol Reef is visible as well as the equally large San Rafael Swell.

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Here is Round Lake - now if I could just find the other 999 [emoticon]

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Late breaking bovine fashion tip - multi-colored ear bobs are IN this year!

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My last campsite in Utah on this trip. It's been a wonderful outing, and I can't wait to get back here.

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I've got one more night on the road, and then I'll be back to "normal" life at home. I hope I get one more trip in this season, but if I don't, I've got some great memories and even better ideas of where I'll go next.

Happy Trails!


The Road Goes Ever On



2008 F250 SD 4x4 Supercab, Detroit TrueTrac, Hellwig LP 35, 2006 Outfitter Caribou 6.5


craziecritter

Garner, N.C.

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Posted: 09/28/09 03:07pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Awesome Pictures, Just Beautiful. Trading in my TT for a TC and heading WEST![emoticon]


Sharon, Tom with
Jack (Rat Terrier) and Benji (Yorkie) at our side

2000 Gulfstream Innsbruck 24' TT
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brirene

midwest

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Posted: 09/28/09 03:17pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Excellent! I've enjoyed all your installments which have also given me another destination to add to my list. With reports like this, I hope you'll be seen on these threads a little more often. Thanks.


Jayco Designer 30 RKS Medallion pkg, Trail Air pin
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“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living." Miriam Beard


sleepy

Oak Ridge,Tennessee

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Posted: 09/28/09 03:27pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If TC folks keep posting we'll have all of the other RV'ers switching... your pictures will get a lot more thinking

thanks for sharing

Sleepy


2003 Lance 1161,/slideout/AGM batteries/255W Solar/propane generator/Sat dish/2 Fantastic Fans/AC/winter pkg
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dmax lover

Portland,Oregon, USA

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Posted: 09/28/09 03:29pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thank You! - the "multi-colored hills" look very much like the painted hills here in central oregon.

jeff


2005 Chevrolet Duramax 3500 SRW Crewcab Longbed (KYB Monomax Shocks, Michelins,Hellwig Rear Swaybar)
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FreeLanceing

Grand Haven Mi

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Posted: 09/28/09 03:29pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great work! Were those pronghorn tracks on the left side of the road. I was out there a couple years ago never dared leave the pavement. Us easterners don't feel to comfortable if there is not a Speedway supply station in site.

ccxnola

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Posted: 09/28/09 03:45pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

AWESOME Post!!!!


2001 National Tradewinds 7370 mid-entry DP w/CAT 3126b Diesel
Look for the Mardi Gras 'Gators - Laissez le bon temps roulez - Let the good times roll!!



DesertHawk

Las Cruces, New Mexico

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Posted: 09/28/09 04:13pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Awesome Photos, Very Beautiful Area. Very Nice Rig You Have There. I can see why you are Seldon Seen. Thanks for sharing.


">DesertHawk- Las Cruces, NM USA
*2015 Lance 1985~Casita de Campo~23' 4" Tongue to Bumper, Dinette Slide
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USAFBILL

Alabama

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Posted: 09/28/09 04:24pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks..we were out in that area in the early spring and while we did not get off the beaten path with our rig we still can relate to the areas thru your journey..thanks again

turtletalk

NC

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Posted: 09/28/09 04:38pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Viewing your pics was like our reliving past trips west. Thanks a bunch.Did you have touble finding fuel?

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