Natural Bridges, Hole N' The Rock, Moab & Arches National Park
Apr 18, 2012
|Monday, April 16, 2012 - Natural Bridges to Moab
I awoke to mostly sunny skies, after the rain and snow of the weekend, and it promised to be warmer weather, so I had my morning coffee and prepared to hit the road, heading to Moab, UT and Arches National Park.
We headed east on Hwy 95, connecting to Hwy 191 north to Moab, retracing our steps of Friday, until we drove through the town of Monticello, and from that point on it was new territory. The surrounding landscape didn’t change much, but we were on more of a plateau than in a canyon, with some higher land occasionally around us.
Just outside of Moab, is a tourist attractions that I had read about a few years ago, so planned on stopping to see it. It is The Hole N” The Rock (http://theholeintherock.com/), which is a 5,000 square foot home blasted and carved into a massive rock. In the early 1900s, the Christensen family came to the area and did some ranching and farming. After the patriarch died, he left one of his sons, Albert, some acreage, which included the rock that had been a haven for cattlemen to rest their herds and camp.
In the early 1940s, Albert, a barber by trade, decided to carve a café into the small alcove, to serve uranium miners flocking to the area, and then the stream of tourists coming to Moab and Arches National Park. He and his wife, Gladys, opened the café and did a booming business. Albert decided to carve a home next to the kitchen and it took him twelve years to carve the 14 room, 5,000 square foot home, complete with a fireplace that has a 65’ chimney drilled all of the way to the top of the rock.
The house stays at a consistent 62 to 70 degrees, no matter what the outside temperature is, but the fireplace was built more for ambiance than heat. Albert planned on carving a 100’ staircase all of the way to the top of the rock, so Gladys could have a rock garden and they would have a terrace to entertain guests, but he had a fatal heart attack in 1957 and died at the age of 52. Gladys went on to finish some of the cave house and lived in it until her death in 1974. Both Albert, and his wife Gladys, are buried in a small alcove to the left of the house.
Albert was an accomplished artist and tried his hand at taxidermy, stuffing a wild mare and her colt that died during a snowstorm. He also mounted his pet donkey, Harry, and all are displayed inside the house. He also made a model and then carved a bust on the outside of the rock, to honor then President FDR. Gladys was an accomplished amateur geologist, carving, polishing and displaying all types of rocks and minerals, even making her own jewelry out of some, and selling it to tourist.
The tour of the house only took 12 minutes and cost $6.00, but I found it interesting to see, along with the grounds surrounding it. A couple in Salt Lake City now own the property and have turned it into a real tourist $top, complete with a little zoo, which costs extra to see, two gift shops and a small store. I found all of the old metal signs, restored old gas pumps, Coke machines, barber chair, sculptures and a variety of other things, interesting. The sculptures of a long horn bull, golfer, and others were created by Lyle Nichols (http://lylenichols.com), and are a marvel of using “junk” to create art. Check out his web site.
Moving on, we drove to Moab in search of the cheapest RV Park in the area. Moab is still a very small town, which caters to tourist, and has high prices for almost everything. I did a thorough search for a free, or at least cheap place, to park the RV so I could see the park and surrounding sights, but even the Forest Service camps were $24.00 a night with no discounts given. Also, reservations have to be made through a separate private company ($9.00), which I despise doing.
I drove into town, looking closely for the campground, stopped to fill up the motor home ($3.89), and then continued until I found myself outside the other end of town, at the Arches National Park entrance. I pulled in and inquired about their campground, but it was full, not to mention they limit the size to 28 feet. I turned around and exited the park, looking for the closest RV Park, which was just about a quarter of a mile back into town. I remembered reading some negative reviews about his place, but was too tired to drive around looking for something else.
I pulled in and got an overnight spot for $41.30. They also wanted $5.00 per pet, limit of two, but never asked and I didn’t tell. If I have to pay a pet fee, I’d expect them to follow us around a clean up after Zack!
It was a nice place, with lots of grass and trees, so I knew I could put up with all of their rules and regulations for just one night. I did my laundry, emptied all my trash, dumped my holding tanks, refilled my fresh water tank and had free Wi-Fi, so did just fine.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - Arches National Park Tour
I had my morning coffee and then got ready to leave so I could tour Arches National Park. We pulled out of the RV Park at about 10:15 and headed directly to the park. I entered, showing my pass for free entry, drove to the Visitor’s Center, parked and went inside. I watched a short introductory video about the park and it’s formation, then viewed the displays and visited the gift shop before going back to the motor home.
They have a very large parking lot and the entire back area is striped for RVs and busses, so I felt comfortable unhooking the Jeep and leaving the motor home there while touring the park. I opened up the windows in the RV, so Zoey could lounge in front of one and stay cool, and then Zack and I headed out to see the sights.
Using the map and brochure I had received upon entering the park, I wound my way up to the top of the plateau from the canyon bottom, stopping to take some pictures along the way. I pulled over at every opportunity and took whatever short hike there was to get a good photograph of the sight. Editors note: I found my pedometer and wore it this time. I put a total of 3.5 miles on it while hiking to see the sights.
The road winds its way up and down from one plateau to another, and I took the side roads to see the sights. At the very end of the road, Devil’s Garden, is the only campground in the park. I drove through to see what it was like and found not only several empty sites, but also several that would accommodate my size motor home. I watched a fifth-wheel that had to have been almost 40 feet long, pull into a spot and park, so know I could have fit also.
We dropped back down off the plateau and took the turn off to Delicate Arch. I took the hike to the lower, and upper viewpoints, positive that the sign said and easy .5 miles, but I must have surely missed the fine print that likely said, “by helicopter.” It was straight up the mountain and across a solid slick rock the size of two city blocks. I made it, and after resting, took several photos of it before heading back down to the car.
That was the last stop on my tour, as I had stopped at all of the other sights on the way in. We headed straight back to the motor home, having to follow the road crew that was painting the new fog lines. The road drops down into the canyon, taking several switchbacks and finally we were back.
I hooked up the Jeep and then went into the Visitor’s Center to file a formal suggestion. As I stopped at the first couple of sights, I had followed a large class A motor home in. Having talked with the couple, a car restore business owner from Medford, Oregon, I noticed that all of the stops had large parking places striped for RVs and busses, but that passenger cars were parking in them instead of the plentiful car spaces available. At the third stop, the Class A didn’t have a place to park because of the cars and had to pass the sight. I’ve run across this before and it made me ask the question, “Why didn’t the park service mark the spots, RV/Busses, so RVs had a place to park?” I filed a suggestion that recommended all National Parks and Monuments simply mark the spots.
We then left the park and headed south, retracing my path back towards Monticello. On the way out of town, I saw a very small sign pointing out the RV Park I had looked for. It was almost a mile outside of south Moab and didn’t look too nice, so I guess things worked out for the best.
Before getting all of the 55 miles to Monticello, I found a road that went to an OHV staging area, so pulled off and found a place to park for the night. It was already 6 PM and I was tired, so was glad I found a place to park for the night. We got set up and after Zack got some playtime and explored a bit; I relaxed and downloaded all of the photos from my tour.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
I had a good nights sleep, as did Zack and Zoey. They were both happy to have the freedom to go outside this morning and explore while I made my coffee. Last nights low was 26, but the sun was shining fully on the motor home and it warmed into the 70s before 9:30.
By the time I had gone through all of the photos, which were considerable, and written the update for the blog, it was 3:30, so I decided to spend another night here, driving on to Canyons of the Ancients and Hovenweep National Monument tomorrow. I spent a lot of time researching a place to camp so I can drive the Jeep to all of the sights, as there seems to be a lot, based upon my research.