The trip to our next destination is just 68 miles today, but it's a beautifully challenging drive. We're on Route 12--the first road designated as an "All American Road" for its scenic beauty. So while Mark was concentrating on the winding road, Denisa was taking pictures through our big motor home windshield.
The road turned immediately up-hill as our diesel engine took us from our campground at 6,500 feet to the summit at over 9,000 feet. We are on the eastern flank of Boulder Mountain, and the aspens are turning into glorious shades of gold.
After hanging out in the desert junipers and sage brush, it was good to see the mountain trees in their best fall foliage colors framed in blue skies!
Just as quickly as we had climbed up, now we are glad to have that diesel engine brake as we head back down in elevation. We lost the aspens, and gained the white slickrock beside the highway. That means we have left the Dixie National Forest, and have entered the vast area of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
That brought us to the most daunting part of the drive--The Hogsback. We had a travel brochure that described this "internationally famous stretch of the byway" in this way: "As the asphalt clings to this thin razorback ridge of slickrock, the terrain spills steeply off to each side." A less eloquent way to say the same thing could be--if you get distracted here you will plummet to your death down either side of this mountain.
We were perched on top of that ridge with no width for error when driving an extra-wide motor home. To make it worse, the Hogsback is a winding road, and we were meeting cars filled with leaf peepers today. Add trying to miss the group of bicyclers that think this is a good place to go for a joy ride, and Mark didn't get to enjoy the views from this section of the road.
We are used to seeing warning signs for 7% or 8% grades in the mountains, but 14%?!? Yikes! Denisa is especially glad to be sitting beside a masterful driver today!
That fast descent brought us through white rock canyon walls . . .
that soon changed to red walls that were leaning towards our narrow lane.
Let's throw in some serious curves through those narrow red rock canyons. Denisa is really, really glad that Mark is the driver today!
Out of the red rocks, we are now back to the white slickrock that looks like it is melting onto our narrow highway.
It's actually a sea of white rock. When we gained altitude (again!) we could look down on miles of slickrock, with that Scenic Highway 12 snaking through it.
After 68 miles, we made it to our destination in Escalante, Utah. We are camped at Grand Staircase RV Resort, a brand new campground that honors the Passport America rate. In business for less than a year, the trees here are small. From our windshield we could watch this woodpecker on the tree beside our motor home.
While sitting in the motor home, Denisa could take close-ups of this guy with his red top-knot and heart-shaped spots on his wings.
Our timing is perfect, because the town of Escalante is hosting their annual art festival. That means food trucks and live music on a beautiful Friday evening in this tiny town.
It also means a week of art classes and demonstrations is coming to a culmination this weekend. Artists have been painting in this picture-perfect area all week, and now we are part of the judging team to determine the crowd favorites.
We've already made a visit to the visitor center of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to get best advice for hikes and places of interest to see while we are in the area. We think we are going to like it here!