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Lake Cowichan view from our dock.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Highway 12, Journey Through Time Scenic Byway, Utah

Saturday, October 7th

Up early and on the road by 8:30 am. Destination Highway 12 to Torrey, Utah near Capital Reef National Park. This highway is called Journey Through Time Scenic Byway. It is one of the most beautiful drives we've ever taken. The road starts off Highway 89 near Panguitch, (pronouced like sandwich) Utah where you turn up towards Bryce Canyon National Park, passing through Red Canyon. We'd driven from the beginning heading to Bryce and then had scouted out as far as Escalante earlier in the week.

Today we drove the rest of the 112 mile highway. (60 miles from where we are camping). This highway is not for the "faint of heart", or so they say and they mean it! Most of it is recently repaved and in fantastic condition. However, there are 7% to 14% grades, very windy, side to side and definitely up and down. A couple of parts you drive on the top of the mountain with steep sides on both sides of the road. We found it exhilarating! (I did all of the driving and Ray took all of the pictures!) Ray could take our rig on the whole thing without issue, he told me, but one has to know "your rig" and how to properly gear down and use your exhaust break for larger rigs. A lot of the windy bits have speed limits of just 30 mph. We did see a large Sightseeing bus and a few other larger rigs taking this highway in both directions. Even a truck as big as yours, Steve and Dianne , pulling a 40' trailer! It did not have "Buster's Hat" however, but they obviously did drive through the tunnel at Red Canyon.

This pic taken near Boulder
Most of our pictures were taken on the way to Torrey, so the drive took us much longer going, but oh so beautiful. Stopping at all of the viewpoints, Freya had a blast greeting everyone. She sure loves meeting people and for the most part,the tourists loved seeing her and making a fuss over her.

First stop is the Head of Rocks Overlook. This shows the first windy part of the road that we wondered if we would be able to negotiate with Kastle. Some of these pictures were taken at the overlook and others as I negotiated our way down the mountain.

"Head of the Rocks Overlook provides expansive views out across the Escalante Canyons where colorful slickrock stretches almost as far as the eye can see. Some 168 million years ago, these striated cream-and-red sandstone formations were sand dunes. Today, this landscape begs for visitors to grab their cameras to record the expansive vista as well as the meandering path of Scenic Byway 12 below. In the distance one can see the southeastern edge of the Aquarius Plateau (i.e. Boulder Mountain) to the north, the Henry Mountains (i.e. Mt. Ellen, Mt. Pennell, Mt. Hillers, Mt. Holmes, and Mt. Ellsworth from north to south) to the east, and Navajo Mountain and the eastern edge of the Kaiparowits Plateau to the south and west." (From Google)

Next up is the Escalante River Valley.

Overlook looking at the river cutting through the valley.

River Trail ... 15 miles to Escalante and 60 miles to Lake Powell.

Escalante River
Calf Creek Springs next stop to check out the campsite. The rock here sure reminded us of Valley Of Fire State Park we visited last winter.

Campsites ... limit 25 feet long. 
 At the campsite is the beginning of the trail to Calf Creek Falls. Campsite was full when we got there.

Calf Creek Falls is one of the most enchanting areas of the Grand Staircase-Escalante area, a verdant oasis amid the tumbled stone monoliths of the desert. Named for its use as a natural pen for calves back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the creek remained relatively unknown as a tourist destination until the formation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, under the Clinton administration. Walking between mineral-streaked cliffs of Navajo Sandstone, hikers pass beaver ponds and pre-historic rock art sites en route to the paradisiacal pools. Calf Creek Falls is a Grand Staircase Escalante hike leading to a 126-foot-high waterfall and refreshing swimming hole. (From Google).

Unfortunately this hike is way too long ( 6 mile round trip) for Ray to take but I am sure it would have been fabulous. Here is a google picture of it.

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Calf Creek Falls, picture by Google
Carrying on towards Boulder. The pictures do not do justice to the colours that your eyes actually see. Absolutely gorgeous.

Mom, you taking a picture of me again!!!!

The next windy part took you across a "knife edge". This part of the road they are still working on putting on the curbing so we had to wait and follow a pilot car for about 2 miles.

Close your eyes Dianne!

Just in case you did not believe me with the grades!

We continued over the top of the mountain and then down into Boulder.

Boulder Utah
Once we passed Boulder it was all open range for cattle and there were tons of them on the sides of the road. The law here is you hit them, you pay for the cow. They have the right of way on open range apparently.

The next stop was at the Chriss Lake Trailhead Parking Lot, just north of Boulder ... restroom facility! Ray wandered around and took this lovely picture of the fall colours.

The climb starts from Chriss Lake Trailhead.
View from the top of Boulder Mountain at 9600 feet.

This picture is for you Dianne. There was about 6 of these, ridden by Japanese tourists. They loved Freya too.

Down the other side of the mountain into Torrey. There are quite a few National Forest campsites on the way down the mountain.  The "official" sites were closed at this time of year. We did see quite a few spots to dry camp along the way down, some that would even fit rigs of our size. You would just have to take your time and look.

Definitely the colours that you see at Capital Reef National Park

Other than filling up with gas at Torrey and taking a picture to tease Steve and Dianne who are heading this way ... we were back on the road to lunch in Boulder.

Where are you Steve and Dianne????
Lunch turned out awesome, great food and craft beer on tap. I ordered a juice glass only of beer as I was driving. lol The Hells Backbone Grill and Farm serve their farm fresh food, very tasty, not to mention healthy ... no french fries seen here! The restaurant was really eclectic, all decorated for fall with huge gourds on display.

My "little" glass of beer.

All decorated for Thanksgiving

After we had our fill of food it's off again for the last 1/3 way home. What a glorious trip.  A little longer trip than we like to take for Ray, so some extra pain medication was needed.  The rest of the afternoon we spent sitting outside resting or he was laying in bed for awhile. Tomorrow we will have an "at home day" so he can completely recover for our next adventure.

About 8 pm I heard someone's voice saying "hello, hello". I looked outside and there was a man wanting to talk to me. Out I went, and the first thing he asked me was "sprechende deutsch"? I said I am sorry but I do not speak German ... english only. He laughed and pointed to our "Oktoberfest" flag. I told him we were not German, just love beer!

We spoke for awhile and he wanted to bring his wife over to see our home and of course Ray said okay. (I quickly made sure my underwear was all put away! lol) They came over and we chatted for about 45 minutes and then they went on their way. Here from Germany for 19 days arriving in Las Vegas and loving all the things that they had seen so far. We gave them some info on free-camping places in their direction of travel. A great end to our day and so unexpected! lol Gotta love our flags ... we do get a lot of people approaching us on our travels because of them.

Sunday, October 8th

This morning we were decided to get up and watch the sun rise from our little penninsula sticking out from our campsite. A beautiful but chilly morning. What a view.

Here are some sunrise pictures that Ray took the day before which inspired me to suggest that we have our Sunday morning Coffee with Carolanns at our lookout watching the sun get up. We spent 2 hours relaxing, talking and just being. Peaceful other than Freya barking a bit over her stick. lol (Again what our eyes saw was much more brilliant than what the camera could capture.)

The rest of the day, Ray spent working on his pictures and relaxing (he's pretty sore this morning) while I had my Suzy Homemaker Day. Made buns, bread, scones and baked beans with a pork hock in my Instant Pot. (lots of dishes but oh well we have lots of water on board and only 3 more days before we dump and fill.) But now dinner is done and the rest of the day I can sit back. Although very sunny, it is pretty breezy so we had to put down the Satellite Dish for the afternoon. Tomorrow is supposed to be "Turkey Day" for our Canadian Thanksgiving. I've planned to cook a whole chicken instead, hopefully on the BBQ (beer can chicken). If the wind keeps up it will be done in the oven instead. Another glorious day.


  1. We drove from Torrey South years ago...No kidding about that road. What can you do once it's started, towing a trailer...Worth it tho...

    1. Yes, it was a fabulous drive. As I mentioned above this has to be the best scenic drive we have done in the past 5 years.

  2. Amazing pictures!! Really enjoying following along on your trip, great posts and pics. Utah is very high on our must see list and October looks like a good month to do it. Cheers.

  3. What can I say? Awesome! Not sure about that road with our rig but love the boondocking spot you found!

    1. If the tour bus could do the road, you guys could. The boondocking spot is only .5 mi off pavement.