|One of the reasons we chose a travel trailer over a fifth wheel was the added flexibility of being able to leave ‘The Neighborhood’ in a safe port while we went off exploring less accessible areas on long day trips or overnighters. The camper shell on the ‘Rocketeer’ is carpeted and the bed of the truck has a padded “BedRug” kit installed. We are quite cozy when we sleep in it, especially when Nancy rolls up our 3 inch memory foam topper and brings it along.
We took off on a Monday morning and drove east through the park to US Highway 89, one of our most favorite roads here in the west. We took the road north to Utah 12 and turned east again. We have been down this road only as far as the turn off to Bryce National Park. The countryside as far as the turn off is quite incredible, so we have always wanted to explore the Grand Staircase of the Escalante National Monument area east of there.
Oh my! What a road! Put this highway on your bucket list. At least drive the section from US 89 east to Boulder, Utah. We once considered driving into this area with ‘The Neighborhood’ during our first season on the road.
Our goal for the day was to reach the town of Escalante and camp at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. We got to the area in the early afternoon and went straight to the park to get a site. Good thing! There were only 22 sites in the place and some were already reserved and the rest were filling up fast. We got a nice site and set up camp somewhat and then went exploring some more.
We drove east from the town of Escalante towards the town of Boulder. This is a distance of about 30 miles. Of those 30 miles, 12 miles is spent dropping down to the floor of the canyon created by the Escalante River, crossing the river, and 12 miles climbing out of that incredible canyon to the town of Boulder. This road is not for the faint of heart, and certainly is not for big motor homes with toads or trucks pulling trailers. There are numerous steep grades and tight corners signed at 15 mph. The highway department does not even bother to warn motorists for grades under 8%. There are several sections of grades that are signed at 14%. That is the steepest grade we have ever been on while not in four wheel drive on some old mining road. I don’t like to think how difficult it must be to hold a heavy rig or trailer back on the descents. The climb up and out from the bottom would be no cake walk either, especially in the high desert heat.
During our multiple travels over this road we ended up seeing at least three trailers going in and out of the canyon. They must not have received the memo!
The highway from rim to rim is cut down and up through solid sandstone formations known as ‘slick rock’ . The drop offs are eye and heart catching. There is one section where the road runs along a ridge of white sandstone. It is two narrow lanes with 12 inch paved, striped shoulders and then thin air. There is not enough room to even install guard rails.
After reaching Boulder we retraced our steps and returned to camp for dinner. We are camped on a small reservoir and have good shade. There are two wind damaged Fremont Cottonwoods releasing copious amounts of flying cotton puffs. It has been pretty breezy so we have been getting bombed with the floating balls. Some places drifts are forming of the stuff and it looks like it has been snowing. The strong breezes during the night make us feel real cozy in our comfy bed out of the elements. Whenever possible we sleep with our heads at the open tailgate so we can star gaze.