Time to Head South
After finally getting my elk shots at Grand Teton National Park, I headed south on Route 191. Stopping in Pinedale for fuel, I just had to get out the camera when this young lady and her lunch companion happened to show up in the lane next to me. As you can see above, I wasn’t the only one who got a kick out of this sight.
As I was heading south, they were heading north to Bozeman and a new home.
A handsome fellow, wouldn’t you say.
After passing through the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area in northern Utah, I stopped for the night at a roadside pull off. I was awakened the next morning by the bellowing of a bull elk outside my bedroom window and greeted by a very heavy frost when I stepped outside with the dogs, confirming that, yes, it definitely is time to be heading south.
Someone in Vernal must spend a lot of time and effort tending the curbside petunias.
Route 191 from Red Canyon to Vernal, Utah, makes a slow ascent through some scenic country, climbing to a summit elevation of some 8,428′ before descending on a long 6 – 8 % grade through 8 hairpin curves, to Vernal, Utah. The long climb ( when heading south ) was barely noticeable until you are just short of the summit when the grade suddenly increases dramatically, in my case, slowing me down to 15 mph and leaving me wondering if I was going to make it over the top. That, and the long, slow descent on the other side will make me reconsider whether to ever do this route again, it probably did kind of take a toll on the the old Workhorse’s transmission.
Continuing south on 191, I joined I-70 East for a bit before rejoining Route 191 south, past Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, to the town of Monticello where I joined Rote 491 south to Cortez, Colorado. After a quick stop for supplies at Walmart in Cortez, I headed west a short bit on Route 160 to the Ancient Cedars campground, just outside the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park, one of the few national parks I had not yet visited. At $37/night with Good Sam discount, this park is a little expensive for my tastes, yet is a very nice campground with a level full hookup pull through site, decent Wifi, and no trees to interfere with satellite TV reception.
Mesa Verde National Park
At dawn Sunday morning, I made my way into Mesa Verde. From the entrance to the park, located just off the highway, it is about a 30 mile trip to the end of the park where the cliff dwellings are found. I spotted a small group of Mule Deer bucks along the park road, but could not get them to cooperate on any photos as they kept their heads down browsing on some shrubs, too bad, because a couple of them had some very impressive antlers.
There are several spots in the park where you have a view of these very unique ancient dwellings from the top of the mesa. The park service does guided trips, for which you need reservations, down and through some of these dwellings, but warns that the climb down and back to the top of the mesa can be quite challenging physically.
I am ashamed to admit that, while i do find the history of this sort of thing quite interesting, it really doesn’t appeal to me the way wildlife and grand vistas do, so this is not my kind of place. That and the fact that even in this relatively remote and not heavily visited national park, there already were more people crowded in here than I find tolerable. I just am not one who enjoys standing in lines and being part of a shuffling mob.
On to Santa Fe
I continued east on Route 160 through Durango and on to Pagosa Springs, Colorado, where I picked up Route 84 that takes you south to Santa Fe. I actually stopped a little short of Santa Fe in Pojoque, where I pulled into the Roadrunner RV Park, right on the side of the highway. This is a convenient spot for an overnight stay, a no frills, level, full hookup pull through site for all of $25/ night ( with Good Sam discount ).
I have an appointment tomorrow morning at Hal Burns Truck Service in Santa Fe for some work on the motorhome. Having had a mostly pleasant experience having work done there two years ago, I am having them take care of a gas tank, or filler pipe, leak, as well as getting my rear running lights working again, plus some other minor maintenance issues.
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