Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A huge surprise and back to Colorado!

After arriving in Vernal with the added excitement of 15 miles at 25 mph in pouring rain and hail that built up to about an inch on the road, it cleared up and gave us a wonderful day to go explore Dinosaur National Monument.  Now we have been by a couple times, never really had the time or admittedly the inclination to visit before as neither one of us is really into dinosaurs, what can I say?  But on doing some research it appeared there was the dinosaur area and another huge area farther east, so off we went, honestly not expecting too much.  The countryside is pretty, deserty, a lot of shrubs, but not all that spectacular.  We stopped into the park visitor center and asked the ranger about it and she indicated it was pretty, but a long way in, 31 miles, not exactly a stellar recommendation, but off we went.  We started climbing across rolling dry shrub covered terrain, again pretty, but.....  We reached the first view point about 8 miles in and wow, what a view, only marred by some of the smoke from the many fires around the area.
The first clue this might be good
We continued along, and much like the Black Canyon of Gunnison, if you've been there, it just sneaks up on you.  You are rolling along on top of the hills with no indication that around the next bend there is one hell of a canyon waiting for you.

Really wow!
Now that patch of water you can see the above picture is 2600' feet below you, and called Echo Park, it is at the confluence of the Green and the Yampa Rivers, and can you get there, well the answer is yes, although it did take a bit of thought on my part to attempt it.  The very first part of the 13 mile road to get there goes down what they call a dugway.  It descends 600' in about a half mile, cutting back and forth across the hillside, so to say it is steep is an understatement, then when we read the warning sign that said 4wd, high clearance vehicles only, passenger cars highly discouraged, and that if it rains while you are down there, you will be UNABLE to climb the dugway back out:)  
Part of the dugway is visible to the left of the photo,
believe me the pict doesn't do it justice
So off we went and what a glorious drive it was.  We worked lower and lower through several canyons, went by the ranch that Jack Chew and his family lived at from 1910 until 1966 when his son Rial sold 1900 of the 2250 acres to the National Park Service.
Down we go

More down, remember 2600' total

The Chew Ranch

A few outbuildings


An old sod covered cabin
Finally we reached Steamboat Rock at the end of the Echo Park Rd.
Steamboat Rock

Steamboat Rock with yours truly:)
We had a glorious time in an absolutely beautiful place.  We ran into a ranger and he said almost no one visits that part of the park, so not only is it beautiful you have the place almost to yourself, our kind of place.  If your travels take you this way, this is a not to be missed destination.

We were only in Vernal for 2 nights, so off to Carbondale, CO.  We had a wonderful campsite right on the Crystal River at the Carbondale KOA.  It was quiet, big sites, and in 50 steps we were fishing in the river!  And we were successful, we each caught a few fish.
Jan's first trout on a fly!!
Right beside our campsite
We had a great time fishing and did a little sightseeing around the area.  Now we are in Montrose, CO for a week or so before we head down to Durango and our 5 weeks there.

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