Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mexican Hat, Gooseneck SP, and Natural Bridges NM

Saturday: (04/20) 30 degrees when we awoke today. We didn't get an early start today. A walk of the campground, chat with our neighbors and showers meant we didn't get on the road until near 10am.

Mexican Hat Rock With Jeep San Juan River Near Mexican Hat Rock
We took the Jeep out driving down to Mexican hat for a look. We drove some Jeep roads around the Mexican Hat Rock and down by the San Juan River there, then checked downtown Mexican Hat. Nothing in Mexican Hat to see, other than the rock.

Ringtail Tracks By The San Juan River Near Mexican Hat Rock
We did notice some interesting tracks by the river there. They are ring-tailed cat tracks, a cat/raccoon like beast.

Goosenecks State Park  Jeep Above Goosenecks State Park
We drove over to Goosenecks State Park. It's a small picnic area on a bluff overlooking the San Juan River West of Mexican Hat. From there you have a view of a couple of the bends in the river 1000 feet below. The river course is much like a snake or goose neck  There are at least seven hairpin turns of the river there. We drove out a Jeep road on the bluff edge to see some of the other bends not visible from the park.

Valley Of The Gods  Valley Of The Gods Flowers
Then we drove over to and through the Valley Of The Gods. Its a gravel road by some interesting rock forms and bluffs. You can also camp along the road.  It's a long way out the dirt road to the valley. We saw a nice bouquet of red flowers along the road..

Valley Of The Gods
A row of "Gods".

Valley Of The Gods  Valley Of The Gods
Front view and side view of one of the monuments. It is amazing how thin they are.

View From Top Of Highway 163 Above Mexican Hat Valley Of The Gods and Goosenecks SP  View Of Hairpin Turns Going Up Highway 163  From Mexican Hat
Then we drove up the 10% grade on Highway 163 to Highway 95 then South a little to Natural Bridges National Monument. From the top you get a great view over the Valley of the Gods, Mexican Hat, and the Goosenecks area. With all that desert we can't understand why the road isn't straight though?

Natural Bridges NM

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Natural Bridges NM Sipapu Bridge Natural Bridges NM Sipapu Bridge
I hiked the trails down to the three bridges (Sipapu, Kachina, Owachomo) there and Lou enjoyed the view from above.

Natural Bridges NM Sipapu Bridge
Sipapu Bridge from the view point by the road.

Natural Bridges NM Sipapu Bridge  Natural Bridges NM Sipapu Bridge
And from down in the wash below the bridge.

Natural Bridges NM Kachina Bridge Natural Bridges NM Kachina Bridge
Kachina Bridge from the viewpoint. The trails down to the bottom for better views are interesting.

Natural Bridges NM Kachina Bridge
View from the bottom of Kachina Bridge. It really doesn't want it's picture taken. It hides.

Natural Bridges NM Owachomo Bridge Natural Bridges NM Owachomo Bridge
Owachomo Bridge, the best looking bridge.Left from the viewpoint. Right from down the trail near the bottom.

Natural Bridges NM Owachomo Bridge
And another view from the opposite side from below.

I finished the last hike at 7pm. This is a good place for some future hikes so we will return. There are trails between the bridges and the gorges are quite interesting. Campsites are limited to 26 feet so we have to camp outside the Monument. The closest spot is near the junction of Highway 163 and highway 95. There are also lots of dispersed camping location further up off  highway 95.

We then continued up Highway 95 to Blanding, Utah. We had dinner at the Homestead Steakhouse there. Lou had a steak and I had chicken fried steak. Everything was very good. We then got gas then hurried to the Market. Everything seemed to be closing and it was almost 9pm. We needed a few things from the market. We entered about 8:50 and even though they close at 9pm we managed to get everything we needed without being bothered and were checked out about 9:15. Then we headed home to our campsite at Sand Island, about 26 miles south of Blanding. A very nice day. We completed our todo list visiting all the things in this area. The weather was perfect all day. Tomorrow is a day off again, relaxing in camp by the river.

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