Southern Utah Exploration: Paria River, Rec. Rd. 230/262/279, and Croton Road
12/26 - 12/28/2006
(Photos by Dave Connors, Will Carroll, Troy Demill and Kurt Williams)

 The adventure started Tuesday (12/26/06) at a gas station in Sandy. Troy and I picked up a couple of snacks and hit the road around 5pm, hoping to beat a bit of the Utah County traffic as we made our way south. We caravanned south on I15 and continued on SR28. We stopped for some groceries and a bite to eat in Gunnison and then continued on US89 to our final destination, Kodachrome State Park. There we met Dave and Will who had beaten us by a couple of hours and already had a small campfire in the works (I say in the “works” liberally). We camped there for the night awoke to some gorgeous scenery all around us. I woke up a bit earlier than the group, and I was losing my sanity lying there in my sleeping bag so I decided to get up and at it. Dave had mentioned the night before that the campground had heated showers, what a better way to wake up in the morning? After a quick shower I decided to meander around the campground, reading the interpretive signs and snapping a couple pictures. I wandered back to camp as the rest of the crew started to pack, I tossed my sleeping gear back into my camp box and strapped everything down.

We hit the dirt heading southwest on the Skutumpah Road, after a couple miles we had come upon the junction with the Paria (Pahreah) River Trail. The trail actually starts down Sheep Creek Canyon, joining the Paria River after 5 or 6 miles. This is where things get cool, I bet we crossed the river 100 times that afternoon as the trail bounces from one bank of the river to the other, not a place you want to be during a rainstorm. The trail is nothing short of stunning, you literally travel south along the river until you hit the old town site of Paria which consists of a burned down movie set and a turn of the century graveyard. All in all we made it unscathed, Dave was able to mire the 80 for a brief minute, nothing a quick winch wouldn’t fix. In addition, Dave and I had our check engine lights flashing (normal & easy to remedy by pulling EFI fuse for a minute) and I had a slight misfire diagnosed by Mr. Carroll, did I mention how nice it is to have a Master Tech along?

From there we had a short jaunt in the dirt until we intersected US89. We continued south on the highway crossing the border into Arizona. We gassed up the rigs and grabbed a fountain soda in Greenhaven, AZ and made our way back north to Big Water, UT (also known as Glen Canyon City). From Big Water we traveled east towards Lake Powell on Recreation Road 230, then to Rec. Rd. 262 (aka Grand Bench Road) which we traveled out to its Lake Powell overlook on the Grand Bench. To my amazement this trail likely only sees a handful of visitors a year. Its remote location and its long distance over somewhat rough terrain make it an unlikely destination for most... works for me! The last 10 or so miles is two track crossing the edge of the mesa, and its seldom use makes navigating the trail a bit hard at times. We enjoyed the sunset over looking the lake, and then made our way to a camp at the end of Rec. Rd. 279 which ends almost abruptly at a 1000+ft gorge (don't sleep walk).

We awoke the next morning and made our way out of 279 & 262, and then headed north on the Croton Road (~60 miles of dirt to Escalante, UT). The Croton Road heads north along the western side of Kaiparowits Plateau, winding its way up and down the surrounding hills. Along the way we stopped and hiked around a small mountain where underground coal fires have been burning for ages. Smoke billows out of the mountain all over the place... neat & eerie alike! The BLM tried to extinguish the fires back in the 60’s, and the scars of their terracing are still very evident. Although they were able to suffocate the fire temporarily, it always found its way back to the surface.

Back on the trail for another hour or so and we encountered a "shortcut" for Escalante. If we took Left Hand Collet Canyon it would take us on an 11 mile jaunt over to the Hole In The Rock Trail (West Side). Long story short is Left Hand Collet Canyon got pretty wiped out from the October rain storms. Some of the lower portions of the trail had already received a little bit of attention from a dozer, but the upper canyon was still rather untouched (this canyon is actually Lower Trail Canyon which joins up with Left Hand Collet below). It wasn't a very difficult trail, but I would call it a 3.5 rating as we ran it, basically like running Rattle Snake several times in the snow with loaded trucks (camping gear, lots of fuel, etc). It really made for an exciting day as it had several off camber ledges that were a bit hard to "crawl" with an icy layer of snow covering them. In one spot I got the Tacoma a bit on its side, enough that the top of my cab was VERY close to rubbing along a rock as it came down the ledge. With Daves winch on my back bumper and some creative rock stacking, I was able to come down it without a scratch (thanks Will and Troy for the excellent spotting & stacking). We continued to stack a couple of big rocks into the hole to help the even taller 80 Series rigs get through unscathed, they did just that.

We made our way out of Left Hand Collet and on to the actual Hole In the Rock Road. We hit State Route 12 and traveled northwest back to civilization. We gassed up in Escalante and had a quick lunch in the parking lot. I hadn't been over "Scenic Highway 12” in along time so we traveled that way through Boulder, UT and up to Torrey. Wow is that area awesome, though we were slowed down quite a bit over the passes, around 6+ inches of fresh snow on the pavement and pretty poor visibility near the summit. We continued on SR24 and US89 to Salina, and then took SR28 back to I15. We ended up back in SLC Thursday night around 9pm, just over 800 miles in 2 days. Great trip & great company!

Kodachrome State Park, Utah

Kodachrome State Park, Utah

Kodachrome State Park, Utah

Kodachrome State Park, Utah

Kodachrome State Park, Utah

Paria River Trail, Utah

Paria River Trail, Utah

Paria River Trail, Utah

Paria River Trail, Utah


Paria River Trail, Utah


Paria River Trail, Utah

Paria River Trail, Utah

Paria River Trail, Utah
 

Paria River Trail, Utah

Paria River Trail, Utah

Paria River Trail, Utah

Paria Townsite, Utah


Paria Townsite, Utah

Paria Townsite, Utah

Paria Townsite, Utah

Recreation Road 262, Utah

Recreation Road 262, Utah

Recreation Road 262, Utah

Recreation Road 262, Utah

Recreation Road 262, Utah

Recreation Road 262, Utah

Recreation Road 262, Utah

Recreation Road 262, Utah

Recreation Road 262, Utah

Recreation Road 262, Utah

Recreation Road 262, Utah

Recreation Road 262, Utah

Recreation Road 262, Utah

Recreation Road 262, Utah

Recreation Road 262, Utah

Recreation Road 262, Utah

Recreation Road 262, Utah


Recreation Road 262, Utah


Recreation Road 262, Utah



Recreation Road 279, Utah


Recreation Road 279, Utah


Recreation Road 279, Utah


Recreation Road 262, Utah


Recreation Road 262, Utah


Recreation Road 262, Utah

Recreation Road 262, Utah

Recreation Road 262, Utah


Recreation Road 262, Utah


Recreation Road 262, Utah


Recreation Road 262, Utah


"Smoky" Mountains, Croton Road, Utah


"Smoky" Mountains, Croton Road, Utah


"Smoky" Mountains, Croton Road, Utah


"Smoky" Mountains, Croton Road, Utah


"Smoky" Mountains, Croton Road, Utah


Left Hand Collet Canyon Road, Utah


Left Hand Collet Canyon Road, Utah


Left Hand Collet Canyon Road, Utah


Left Hand Collet Canyon Road, Utah


Left Hand Collet Canyon Road, Utah


Left Hand Collet Canyon Road, Utah


Left Hand Collet Canyon Road, Utah


Left Hand Collet Canyon Road, Utah


Left Hand Collet Canyon Road, Utah


Left Hand Collet Canyon Road, Utah


Hole In the Rock Road, Utah


Hole In the Rock Road, Utah


State Route 12, Utah


State Route 12, Utah


State Route 12, Utah


State Route 12, Utah


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