to explore roads and canyons that we hadn't yet checked out. We left out of Green River on
Saturday morning to drive south onto the Lower San Rafael Road. This road mostly parallels
Highway 24 between I-70 and Hanksville, but it runs through the middle of the San Rafael
Desert closer to Green River, before making its way to the Horseshoe Canyon unit of
Canyonlands and then getting into all of the great canyons of the Robbers Roost area. We are
usually down in southern Utah in the winter, and this area can be inaccessible when there's
snow, so we've never explored much of this area. Not only that, but access to the area
requires over 50 miles of dirt roads...in fact we did about 200 miles of driving this weekend on
dirt roads. Outstanding.
Our first stop was a surprise finding of Chaffin Geyser. This was a cold water geyser just off
the road before it crossed the San Rafael River. We actually didn't know what it was when we
were there, but later learned that it was a geyser. We didn't see it erupt, but it was still cool.
From there, we crossed the San Rafael River on the nice, new bridge. We then checked out
another side road that had views out over the Green River near where we had camped last
year at the mouth of Horseshoe Canyon. There were also some nice views of the Henry
Mountains from here. Our next stop was at the Granary Springs trailhead for Blue John
Canyon. This is the canyon where Aron Ralston got stuck and had to cut off his arm. It's
strange to think about how he was stuck in this canyon for over five days without seeing
another soul, and now, because of the movie about his ordeal, this trailhead was fairly
crowded. We checked out this trailhead, which is the one that the girls started from that he
met in the canyon, as well as the trailhead where Ralston started. Both trailheads had several
cars parked at them. While they weren't terribly crowded, they were fairly crowded for this
wonderfully remote area. As a result of this increased popularity, and the increase in people
needing rescue, the local search and rescue squad has begun posting warning signs around
the Roost. The signs warn that the desert out here likes to kill people, and help may be hours
or days away...if it ever comes. It also points out that the blue pool featured in the movie is
several hundred miles north of here, and nowhere near the desert, much less the canyon.
From there, we checked out the trailheads for a few canyons I want to do: Not Mindbender;
up top. This area is just covered in slickrock, and I really want to play out here more. We saw
less than 10 other cars after leaving Granary Springs, so that was nice, too.
We ended up deciding we didn't feel like camping, so we drove to Hanksville for the night. On
Sunday we drove through Capitol Reef, and then up Highway 89, before driving over Skyline
Drive out of Fairview, onto Scofield Reservoir, and then on home. It was bizarre being able to
drive up into the mountains this early in the year...but it's been a very low snow year.
I still want to explore more of the roads in the Roost, and I really want to do some of the
canyons out there.