Sunday, May 12, 2013


We headed north continuing on Hwy 191 with the next stop near Price, Utah.  We drove in a downpour arriving in town just as the skies cleared.  Price is home to the first Wal-Mart of the trip, so it was time to stock up.  After our re-supply we headed up into the mountains and Nine Mile Canyon.  By the name one would think that the canyon was nine miles long, but it's longer, about 40 miles.  Known as the longest art gallery in the world, the canyon was home to Fremont and Ute Indians and numerous examples of rock art.

We had heard about a ranch where you could camp that is in the canyon.  Nine Mile Ranch is about 25 miles into the canyon and until recently was reached by a dirt road.  With the recent discovery of natural gas in the canyon and surrounding area, the Bill Barrett Corporation, a oil and gas exploration company has spent about 20 million dollars improving and paving the road through the canyon.  With a nice new road, we headed up to Nine Mile Ranch where we were met by Myrna who along with her husband Ben, operate the ranch.  The ranch is a working cattle ranch, but to supplement income, Ben and Myrna have a small campground and a "Bunk and Breakfast".

As I said this was a working cattle ranch, so you had to watch were you stepped.  Lots of evidence of the cows around.  Also horses.

These horses came galloping through the "campground", I think looking for better grazing.  Later I saw Ben, herding them back to their pasture.  As a modern cowboy, Ben used his car to to guide the horses back.  We were the only campers at the ranch and had the run of the place.

The next morning we drove further into the canyon looking for the rock art the canyon is famous for.  Here are some examples:

Continuing on through the canyon one exits into the Unita Basin in Northeastern Utah.  The Unita Basin is experiencing a boom with all the oil and gas exploration.  We drove for miles seeing hundreds of oil wells.

An information kiosk at an overlook explained that most of the wells are 4,000 to 6,000 feet deep and that below the temperature of 110 degrees the oil is the consistency of shoe polish. Because of the depth and the pressure of the earth at that depth, the oil is in a liquid state.  Standard pumping recovers about 10% of the oil, but by injecting water into the deposit through a separate well, 25% of the oil can be recovered. 

After another night at the ranch, we moved about 130 miles north to Vernal.  Nearby is Dinosaur National Monument which straddles Northeastern Utah and Northwestern Colorado.  I can remember a family trip  here in 1958 and what I remember most as a child was obtaining a Dinosaur Hunting Licence.  They still give them out at the Utah Visitor Center near the state line.  Of course the National Park Service in it's desire to be politically correct, does not issue the licences.

We paid a visit to the Bone Quarry, but I managed to leave my camera back in the RV, so I borrowed these photographs from Google.  Pretty interesting and the kids love it.  One is actually allowed to touch some of the bones that are embedded in the hillside.

The next day we drove to Echo Park in a different part of the Monument, this time with the camera.  In this part of the county, lots of areas are called "parks".  There is Castle Park, Island Park, and Echo Park all within the Monument.  Now for those of us from Southern California, when we think of a park, we usually think of a place where gang members hang out.  Up here in this part of the world, "park" has a completely different meaning.  It refers to an area of beauty that sometimes covers a large area.  Hence the desire to visit Echo Park.

When one reads about how to get to Echo Park, the description of the road makes one wonder if it is worth while.  At least after reading the description provided by the Park Service.

Because it had been raining of late, I attempted to find out if the road was passable or not.  Asking several park employees, including rangers, I got the same answer.  No one had an answer, nor did they seem willing to find one.  It seemed as though they were trying to discourage you from going.  We figured we would have to go and find out for ourselves.  Well the road was dry and passable.  The sign says, "no trailers", but river rafters haul trailers up and down the road with their rafts.  As the the advisory against passenger cars, grandpa could drive his Cadillac down this road.  Yes it was a dirt road, steep and narrow in places, but it it's a county road and well maintained for a back country road.   The road descends from the plateau to the canyon bottom, a decent of 2500  feet.

So what gives with the Park Service.  I'm used to my elected official misleading me, but now the Park Service does it too.  It's obvious to me that they are trying to keep people from enjoying their park.  Well despite their best efforts, we enjoyed ourselves in an absolutely beautiful area.

Echo Park is at a bend of the Green River surrounded by towering cliffs.  See for yourself.







The Crew Ranch still exists in the park, but this part of the ranch was sold to the park service in the early 60's
We've been thinking of buying a new RV
This one looks nice



Well that about does it for Utah.  We've been traversing the east side of the state for almost a month.  We now continue to follow Hwy 191.  Next up, Wyoming and the Grand Tetons.

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