The Exploration Continues

Tuesday, May 09, 2017 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Ultimate Utah, Days 16-18:  Kanab, UT to Draper, UT

When we left Kanab Sunday morning, we dipped back down into Arizona on Highway 389 with the goal of seeing nearby Pipe Spring National Monument.  Unfortunately, we failed to consider Arizona's abstention from Daylight Saving Time (contending that their summers are too hot to extend day into the night hours).  As a result, we arrived at the historic site an hour before its opening time, found nothing compelling us to wait, and decided to move on.
Fences and No Trespassing Signs were a common sight in Colorado City.
We were driving through the region known as the Arizona Strip.  Isolated from the remainder of the state by the Grand Canyon, the area's remoteness has provided shelter for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), an offshoot group of Mormons who continue to embrace polygamy, though the practice was disavowed by the LDS church in 1890.  Having read Jon Krakauer's scathing indictment of the FLDS, Under the Banner of Heaven (2003), we were curious enough to take a drive through Colorado City, AZ and Hildale, UT, the seamless border towns that were the fiefdom of well-known FLDS prophet Rulon Jeffs.
Clearly prying eyes are not welcome.
What we found were dozens of unfinished houses, many of which appeared to be occupied, and tall makeshift fences with "No Trespassing" signs enclosing many homes and what we assumed were businesses, though they lacked signage.  As we drove through, we saw only one car on the streets, a Colorado City Marshal SUV, which crossed our path perhaps too many times to be coincidental.  The number of people on the streets we could count on one hand, and all eyed us with suspicion.
Graves of Rulon Jeffs and some of his wives.
When we passed Isaac Carling Memorial Park at the edge of town, we couldn't resist stopping for a look, as it was quite different from most cemeteries.  Markers, when they were present, were very modest, even the one for former FLDS leader Rulon Jeffs.  Many graves, including ones dating back to the last century, were covered in the kind of red dirt mounds often seen immediately after a burial.
Quail Creek Reservoir
Wishing we could find some locals to chat with and learn more about the town—as if any would have given us the time of day—we soon departed and continued on our way.  Back in Utah, we drove into the beautiful Hurricane Valley and the town of Hurricane.  Following a fruitless search for a letterbox at Quail Creek State Park, we entered the fray of I-15 north on the way to the Kolob Canyon District of Zion National Park.  With two weeks on two-lane roads, the return to freeway driving was a bit of a jolt, especially with the 80 mph speed limit.
Another side of Zion National Park
After finding three letterboxes near the Kolob Canyon visitor center, we set out on the six-mile scenic drive through Zion's remote section.  Massive red cliffs loomed above with lush green growth, even including recently leafed hardwood trees.  Lots of pullouts offered opportunities to ogle the vistas, and three parking lots offered access to several trailheads.
Upper Kolob Canyon
A hike was not in our plans for the day, however, and we soon returned back south on I-15 to reach an even more isolated portion of the park known as Upper Kolob Canyon and Lava Point.  Scenery was just as spectacular with its variety and long-distance viewpoints.

Kolob Terrace Road climbed to the summit of the Upper Kolob Plateau and ended at the Kolob Reservoir at 8,100 feet.  Temperatures dropped as we gained elevation, and shortly after we reached the reservoir, a sleet and snow mix began pelting the car.  Transitioning to rain as we retraced our path to lower altitudes, the precipitation followed us all the way to Cedar City, our destination for Sunday night.
UT-14 scenic highway
Our Monday plans to check out Cedar Breaks National Monument, often described as a mini-Bryce Canyon, were dashed when we learned the park, situated at 10,000 feet off a secondary state road, is still closed for winter.  We decided to take the 41-mile drive east on UT-14 anyway as it has been designated one of Utah's scenic byways.
Navajo Lake
The description is an apt one.   A forested route lined with volcanic rock and white-trunked aspens interspersed with pines, Highway 14 summits midway at the top of Cedar Mountain (9,896 ft.), where the turquoise waters of Navajo Lake offered a fetching vista.  Snow was still much in evidence, and most side roads remained closed for winter.
For some reason we were unable to discover, there seemed to be a strong animosity toward signs along Highway 14.  At every vista where we stopped, only the naked framework indicated where interpretive signs had been installed.  At Navajo Lake, some graffitist tried to offer a modicum of information in the official sign's absence (see bottom left photo above).  All manner of traffic and informational signs were ripped from their posts and left lying on the ground nearby.  We know not why.
Downtown Duck Creek Village
After summiting, the road continued along a wide ridge all the way to Duck Creek Village, where Martin's Corner Deli was one of only a few establishments open for the season.  We took advantage of the opportunity for a bite of lunch and a talk with the proprietor, then moved on back down the mountain to the eastern end of UT-14 and turned north on US-89, finding a few letterboxes on our way to search for another Utah treasure.
Just when you think Utah can't have any more geological variety...
At Kingston, we turned east on UT-62 through the dramatic Kingston Canyon with its odd rock formations in fanciful shapes.  From one secondary road to another, we made our way northeast into Fishlake National Forest in search of what is believed to be the largest and one of the oldest living organisms on earth.
Parked at Pando
The object of our search was Pando Forest, a clonal colony of a single male aspen tree.  The 40,000+ trunks that have grown from the same root system are genetically identical and considered to be part of a single plant.  Pando spans 107 acres, and its root system is estimated to be more than 80,000 years old.  Unfortunately, the giant organism has been put at risk by deer and elk overgrazing its juvenile shoots.  Sections of the forest are fenced as part of an active effort to preserve its unique status.
Round ponds
Near Fish Lake, just south of Pando, we were surprised to observe three perfectly elliptical ponds that reminded us of the Carolina Bays we had learned about a couple of months ago from cousin Doris.  Like their Atlantic seaboard counterparts, these depressions were oval in shape and were oriented northwest to southeast.  This turned out to be another mystery we didn't solve that day despite our inquiries to Google.
Hey, Guys!
As we drove north from Pando along UT-24, we paused by the roadside for a photo op of some grazing cows in a pretty setting.  For some reason I don't understand and which amuses Ken no end, there seems to be something in the tone of my voice that appeals to cows.  As we were stopped on the roadside, I began calling to the cows, "Hey, Guys!  How are you today?  Come on over here for a photo op."  Strangely, as I continued the chatter, a couple of dozen in the vicinity stopped their grazing and approached the fence, where they stood and stared at the weird woman who couldn't speak Moo.
Not a scenic route
We continued on roads which were not marked scenic but which were anyway to Richfield, where we spent Monday night.  On Tuesday morning, we suddenly realized we were overdue for a down day, so we took the shortest path to the southern suburbs of Salt Lake City and found a spot for the night.  We'll be in the Salt Lake area for the remainder of the trip, returning home on Sunday.


Three-Day Totals:
    •  Started in:  Kanab, UT
    •  Ended in:  Draper, UT
    •  Miles driven:  628   (total 4,312)
    •  Weather:  42° to 75°, clear, sleet, rain, snow
    •  Letterboxes:   Found 14, Planted 0  (F56, P7)
    •  Walked:   6.79 mi   (total 66.91)

More Photos
No matter how often we wipe it, our car continues to accumulate dust on all these unpaved roads.
Lava fields near the top of Cedar Mountain 
Utah 62, not a scenic road 
The road through Pando Forest 
Fish Lake