Tropic, UT Our last trek in Page was a visit to the famous Horseshoe Bend, a horseshoe-shaped incised meander of the Colorado River. The overlook is 4,200’ above sea level, and the Colorado River is 3,200’ above sea level, making it a breathtaking 1,000’ drop. There are hundreds of images of Horseshoe Bend Canyon, as it is the most popular bend of the Colorado River. However, no picture can do justice to how amazing it is. And it had better be amazing because of the effort that it takes to get there! Totally exposed to the hot sun in the barren desert (when entering the parking area the staff admonish everyone to take water with them), one must first climb a fairly steep, sandy hill and then traverse a more moderate decline to the canyon's edge, reversing the effort in the return trip. Once there, there are steep drop-offs and always idiots who climb out onto rocks above the precipice to obtain that “perfect” picture.
Since that was not enough adventure for the day, Jim found a truly wonderful road to Tropic. After checking to make sure it was passable, we set out on a 46-mile road of graded dirt with an underlying clay base through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument that is totally impassable when wet. Many sections traverse ancient seabed deposits of mudstone, silt, and shale. When wet the clay surface becomes exceptionally slick, rendering even four-wheel drive useless. Additionally, many drainages cross the road in various locations, and these wash out during periodic flash flooding, particularly during summer thunderstorms. Even in dry weather the road can be muddy to the point of being impassable in low areas. And the ruts and washboarding!!! It was a very scenic drive and we not only survived, we loved it.