Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wandering around the Abajo Mountains

The  Abajo Mountain range is part of the Manti-La Sal National Forest. If you are traveling, as we were, from Capitol Reef over to Moab, these are the mountains that you are skirting to the northeast. Highway 95 is the way to go and runs along the Glen Canyon Wilderness with a brush past Natural Bridges National Monument and then heads back up through Blanding to Moab.

lunch at Natural Bridges

 From the road this whole area looks rather beautifully uninhabited. I'd assume that for anyone who likes to off-road with ATV or high clearance jeeps; hunters and fisherman, campers and avid hikers - this area is well known to you. Well, if you live in southern Utah, that is. We camped up above Blanding at the Devil's Canyon Campground (not to be confused with Devil's Garden in Arches NP) and then started pouring over our hiking maps to see what we wanted to do for a couple of days.

Devil's Canyon - a great campground. Great spots, lots of privacy, clean bathrooms. Just a little out of the way if you are looking for something near any of the national parks. And just FYI - if you are restocking in Blanding, don't bother looking for beer - the town is completely dry. You can find alcoholic beverages up in Monticello.

Anyway - back to the maps. It took us a little bit of time to realize two things. First, there were more ATV trails than hiking trails in this region. Second - and we learned this the next day - when the map says 'high clearance vehicle', it means something different than my 4WD Tacoma truck. We're talking high clearance jeep preferable with a tow cable front and back. We tried to get to a couple trailheads and literally came up against the perfect places to get stuck out in the middle of nowhere. We didn't but it was close.

We did make our way out to some beautiful canyon country just east of Natural Bridges. What looked like foothills from 95 turned out to be some of the most beautiful rim hiking I've done in a while. Its worth doing some exploring but I also wouldn't head out onto these back roads without some experience, extra water and a 4WD vehicle. Not AWD - 4WD.

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