Moab Northwest

Monitor ButteI went to the Moab area yesterday and did the first real exploring I’ve ever done in that area. The only other time I had been there was a little over five years ago when Matty and I hiked up to Sister Superior to find a geocache (which, at the time, was the oldest unfound cache in the state). My primary reason for going yesterday was to check out the Bowknot Bend area and do some reconnaissance for a very challenging geocache. I wanted to find out where it would be possible to scramble up onto the mesa on Bowknot Bend, but it turned out that the truck wasn’t a good vehicle for that kind of exploring.
Shelf road into Spring CanyonThe kids and I left town around 8:00AM, and we reached UT-313 (about 10 miles northwest of Moab) a little before 10:00. We found a few geocaches along the paved road, then turned onto a graded dirt road that went west across Bartlett Flat and Deadman Point to Spring Canyon. The road into Spring Canyon, while not difficult, made me nervous. The road initially follows a sandstone shelf with a sheer dropoff on one side, then it descends steeply as the road hugs the canyon wall and switches back about halfway down. In most places it’s wide enough for only one vehicle. When the road reached the bottom of the canyon, it crossed some water running down the canyon, and I let the kids out to skip rocks for a few minutes. We continued down the canyon to Bowknot Bend, and when the road forked I took the left (south) fork. As soon as we got to the Green River, there was a small pullout where we stopped for lunch.
Lunch spot at Bowknot BendAfter lunch I drove south along the river. The road was narrow and in places washed out a bit, and I got plenty of desert pinstriping from the tamarisk growing along both sides of the road. I went as far south as a geocache that was a short distance from the road, but I turned around there because I just don’t enjoy driving the truck on roads like that. I returned to the fork in the road at Spring Canyon and took the right (north) fork this time. That road was similar to the southern road, though eventually it got much rougher and I had to do a 10-point turn to get turned around. While driving on both roads, I looked at all the crevices leading up to the top of the mesa on Bowknot Bend. They all had sections of sheer cliffs, and none of them looked like they would allow access to the top. Upon returning home I did some looking in Google Earth and now I’m thinking I should have driven farther south, as one of the cracks in the cliffs looks like it might lead to the top.
Dubinky WellWe climbed back out of Spring Canyon, and on the way up two guys on dirt bikes were coming down the road. They were the first people I’d seen since leaving the pavement, and they would be the only other people I’d see all day until getting on I-70 on the way home. I drove back across Deadman Point and turned north and began heading toward I-70, making a few stops and detours on the way. We first stopped at Dubinky Well, where there’s a windmill that used to pump water out of the ground into several above-ground, open-topped holding tanks. One of the tanks was made of rocks and concrete and was about four feet tall. Bradley was able to get inside because part of the ground outside the tank was level with the top, but once inside he wasn’t able to climb back out. I couldn’t help but laugh for a moment before eventually helping him out.
Secret SpireNext I drove past the Needles and took a short detour to Secret Spire. The road was rough and crossed a few expanses of bare sandstone, but the truck handled it in 2WD pretty easily. On the way I spotted an arch that I didn’t know was there, so we spent a few minutes checking it out. Once we reached Secret Spire, I was surprised by the size of it. I was expecting it to be a bit smaller, but the column of sandstone was about 22 feet tall and about four feet in diameter at the base. We spent more time than I had planned there because it was such an interesting place. The kids really enjoyed running around on the bare sandstone and exploring the alcoves and small canyons, and I was very impressed with the terrain even farther away. This place instantly went on my list of places to revisit–I could easily spend an entire day or more exploring the area. While we were eating a snack and getting ready to leave, I noticed some bighorn sheep on a nearby hill. They had apparently heard the kids making noise and came to investigate. I’ve seen bighorn sheep do that many times now–they are apparently very curious animals.
Tenmile WashIt was getting dark when we left Secret Spire, and the rough roads made it impossible to make good time. I kept heading north toward I-70, and I sent a text to Traci letting her know we’d be later than expected. I stopped for a couple more geocaches and a few more times just to take photos, but for the most part I was just wishing I was home already. It was a fun area to explore, but doing it in a 3/4-ton truck isn’t the best way to see it. Ever since I got home I’ve been thinking about going back. In many ways the area is similar to the San Rafael Swell–the two share many of the same geological formations–but it’s all new to me. I might go back this winter to tent-camp and hike around, but I will definitely go back next spring with the camp trailer and spend a few days exploring on my ATV.

Photo Gallery
GPS Tracklog and Photo Waypoints (Google Earth .KMZ Format)
GPS Tracklog and Photo Waypoints (Google Maps)

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