Day 3: Overview/Leaving Blanding

Blanding Travel Blog

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Butler Wash Ruins

   When I got up on Day 3 of my trip driving through the west I changed my original plans to drive up Utah Highway 95 through Hanksville to Interstate 70 to a loop drive to see Natural Bridges National Monument then a drive down to Goosenecks State Park then through Bluff back to Blanding.  I extended my room at the Four Corners so I would not have to look for a room after a long day of touring.  I drove a short distance back down U.S. Highway 191 to its intersection with Utah Highway 95.  There was construction which caused a short delay on my drive.

Sipapu Bridge, Natural Bridges National Monument
  I knew there were a few sites with the ruins of Pueblo Indian settlements along the route but was not sure exactly where they were.  A short distance after the construction, I saw a turnoff for the Butler Wash Ruins.  It was a fairly short drive to the parking area, and a hike to the overlook which was described as "easy to strenuous depending on your medical condition".  The Butler Wash Ruins were occupied around 1200 AD and show influences from the Kayenta and Mesa Verde cultures.  Evidence from the area shows the Butler Wash compounds were occupied from 500 AD to around 1300 AD.  The next stop was the ruins of the Mule Canyon Pueblo.  Unlike the Butler Wash Ruins, which were across the canyon, these are right on the trail.  The trail is also short, paved, and wheelchair accessible.
Goosenecks State Park
  I drove a bit farther down Utah Highway 95 and made the turnoff for Natural Bridges National Monument.  I walked through the small museum in the visitor's center and the helpful ranger discussed the park with me.  I had already taken the hike at Butler Wash, and had hiked some of the longer trails in the park on a previous visit so I figured I would hit all the overlooks for the bridges, and hike along the trail to the Horse Collar Overlook.  I took a bit of some other trails too.  An additional reason for not taking too many of the longer trails was my plans to drive down Utah Highway 261 to Goosenecks State Park.  There are several ruins along Utah Highway 261 but the locations of many of them are not available to the public.  An interesting part of the drive is the "Moki Dugway" which is a three mile expanse of dirt road that consists of a series of switchback curves that drop 1000 feet in three miles.  The recommended speed limit for the curves is 5 miles per hour, so that gives you a clue as to their intensity.  There are a few pullouts along the route that overlook the "Valley of the Gods" and some of the canyons along the San Juan River.  The road is cut into the Halgaito Formation and Cedar Mesa Sandstones of the Permian Cutler Group.  Much of the time you have a sheer rock wall on one side and a drop of several hundred feet on the other.  Gooseneck State Park shows one of the most impressive examples of an entrenched river meander on the North American continent.  The San Juan River flows 6 miles through these meanders while advancing only 1.5 miles towards Lake Powell.  As the river flows through these canyons it uncovers 310 million years of geological history.  When I got to the intersection with U.S. Highway 163 I made a quick right to revisit the Mexican Hat Rock formation,  Then I drove back through Bluff to U.S. Highway 191 to my hotel in Blanding. 

german_eagle says:
Stunning natural beauty!
Posted on: Nov 17, 2017
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Butler Wash Ruins
Butler Wash Ruins
Sipapu Bridge, Natural Bridges Nat…
Sipapu Bridge, Natural Bridges Na…
Goosenecks State Park
Goosenecks State Park
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photo by: walterman9999