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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Plan B - Part III The Greatest Earth On Show

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seldomseensmith

Flagstaff, AZ

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Joined: 09/18/2006

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Posted: 05/10/10 05:26pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

After a great visit to Horseshoe Canyon, it's time to cross the street (highway) and showcase some of the prettiest country most folks have never seen - the San Rafael Swell. This significant uplift in the earth's crust covers an area roughly 75 miles to the north and south and 40 miles east and west.

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The Swell is bisected by Interstate 70, making for two distinct regions, each with its own attractions. There are a number of roads which penetrate the heart of this geological marvel, including Temple Mountain road in the southern section and Buckhorn Wash road in the north, and from these "main" arteries many other trails lead to numerous unique features.

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On this outing I am cruising around the southern portion, mostly because I'm already in the neighborhood. I enter the Swell on Temple Mountain road, which coincidentally happens to begin at the Highway
24 turnoff to Goblin Valley State Park, also a very cool place if you've never been. The way in is paved for the first 7 miles or so, then changes to a relatively well maintained dirt road shortly after crossing through a gap in the uplift.

After passing through the cut, you'll see the well known (and oft photographed) Temple Mountain, which is popular with the OHV crowd. When I drove in, the staging lot just outside the Swell had lots of ATVs and dirt bikes being offloaded from trailers, but once I got in deeper I only saw a couple of riders during the time I was there.

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Traveling west for several miles, Temple Mountain road splits to the north where it eventually crosses under I-70, linking up with trails on the other side of the freeway. I continue west on to Red's Canyon, a remote and beautiful section of the Swell.

The scenery was merely great before, but now it becomes truly awesome as it approaches the cliffs and canyons ahead.

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Here is a rock formation known as "The Family".

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Red's Canyon road continues west for a few more miles, then drops south/southwest into a streambed for another 7 miles as it contours around the base of the cliffs, so it should never be attempted during summer thunderstorm season. On this trip, the sandy washbottom is in good shape.

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A little more than halfway in I start looking for a place to spend the night, and spot a spur road heading west towards an intriguing side canyon.

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About a mile in and I stumble upon the Lucky Strike Mine (definitely lucky for me). This secluded location bounded by soaring cliffs makes a perfect camp, with lots to explore in the immediate area.

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The only buildings at the site are a couple of miners cabins, both of which need a makeover.

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Mining is hard, dirty, and often unrewarding work. But if I could wake up each day to this view out my window, it might be worth it.

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The Lucky Strike is one of many old mines in the San Rafael. Like this one, most of them were created during the uranium boom of the 40's and 50's, and most of them are now abandoned.

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I recently watched a video on YouTube where some intrepid (some would say foolhardy) individuals went crawling into the mines here - I took one look at the apparent instability of the overlying rock, as well as inhaled the sulphurous emanations from the shafts and decided I would observe from the outside.

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The area is littered with adits (shafts) - I counted no less than 20 during my afternoon reconnaissance, and I'm sure there were others I missed. It took a lot of scrambling to reach most of the excavations, leading me to wonder how the miners got themselves and equipment to the mines.

After a peaceful night I left the next morning, continuing on my journey south.

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Here on the side of the road two large blocks of sandstone became detached from the formation in the background, and were lying in the dry stream bed where the forces of nature sculpted them into bas-relief pieces worthy of inclusion in any art museum.

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These amphitheatres beckoned to the cross-country explorer in me, but unfortunately I have miles to go (before I stop).

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The first view of Tomsich (sometimes pronounced tom-sick) Butte appears in the distance.

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More abandoned uranium mines are found at the base of Tomsich Butte.

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The road continues dropping towards the basin ahead, contouring around horizontally stacked mudstone formations.

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Red's Canyon road reaches a T junction at the lower end. Turning right for about 1/2 a mile brings massive Hondu (also spelled Hondoo) Arch into view as it towers overhead.

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Muddy Creek begins the journey to the Fremont River in the country above this canyon. After a wet winter, tubers, kayakers, and canoers can run the "the Chute" through a beautiful narrow canyon just downstream.

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Returning east, the road continues through rugged yet beautiful scenery.

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Soon the road splits again, with a southern leg heading for the Hidden Splendor Mine. The road drops into a colorful basin with incredible views all around.

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In the distance the road I just traveled appears, dwarfed by the soaring buttes and canyon walls.

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Snowbound Thousand Lake Mountain looms high above the Swell.

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I drove as far as the base of this butte before turning back - I was low on fuel and did not want to risk running out (no gas stations until Green River or Hanksville, many miles away). Hidden Splendor Mine is a destination that will have to wait for a future trip.

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The Henry Mountain in the south appear through a fault in the Swell.

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There's nothing better than tooling around in the backcountry with no particular destination, just a willingness to see where the next dirt road might take you - as long as you've got gas! As you can see, it's all good, clean fun [emoticon]

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Happy Trails!


The Road Goes Ever On



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


SWD

Land of Living Skies

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Posted: 05/10/10 05:34pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for sharing these wonderful pictures on the forum. Absolutely awesome!

Itchey Feet

Wyoming

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Posted: 05/10/10 08:16pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thank you !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


My feet are fine as long as they are traveling.

Tiger4x4RV

Inland Empire, Southern California

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Posted: 05/10/10 05:45pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The place should be called "Unhidden Splendor." Thanks for sharing. Goes to show that one should always have a Plan B.


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DagoRanch

Arizona

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Posted: 05/10/10 06:07pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Awesome!! It's actually very similar country to the land I own in NE Arizona.

billtex

RI

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Posted: 05/10/10 07:03pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

seldom...thanx so much for sharing...truly awesome!

Bill


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Matho

New Mexico Texas

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Posted: 05/10/10 08:26pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice report!


2015 Chevy 3500 SRW 4X4 6.0 CC SB Big Wig 2016 Northstar Laredo SC Off Road

GoinThisAway

middle TN

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Posted: 05/10/10 08:44pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

After working in the flooded areas of middle TN this past week its nice to see some dry land ... some really dry land! This picture is my favorite as it makes me want to jump in the truck and see where that road goes:

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2008 Dodge 3500 DRW 4x4
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Bear461

Winter Haven, Florida

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Posted: 05/10/10 08:47pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Seeing those pictures make me wish I had spent more time in the Moab area when I visited there in 2006. I think I will have to go back there real soon - maybe November when it is cooler. Thanks for sharing your pictures.

Camper_Jeff_&_Kelli

Seattle

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Posted: 05/10/10 11:39pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Seldom,
Nice pictures again.

Curious about the stats of you trip.
How many days, miles, day/night temps, fuel used, propane used, water used, dump the tanks once or twice?

Take care,
J&K


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A CLOSED MOUTH GATHERS NO FEET!


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