Sunday, May 31, 2015

Dome Plateau...Finishing Up

Portal RV Resort
Moab, UT
May 27, 2015

Dome Plateau is a large highland area north of the Colorado River. As mentioned in the last post, it is 34 miles of off-highway trails. What I failed to mention is that even though 32 of those miles are very easy sandy or gravel road with small rock ledges, there are a couple of spots that can be of which is a steep, ledgy descent into Yellow Jacket Canyon and then a steep ascent on the other side. Over the years since our book was published, the wash thru the canyon has widened and the descent has gotten harder and steeper with high ledges. Even in 2008 when the guide was published, Dome Plateau was at the bottom of the moderate list making it almost a difficult trail. A more recent review by Red Rock 4-Wheelers says, "The "3" rating is a compromise between the very easy parts and one hill that may require strapping some vehicles." A new edition of Moab Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails by Charles Wells is due to be published in the spring of 2016. 

Even though we have seen jeeps and ATVs/UTVs on trails alone, it is not a good idea...always have a buddy! 

Joe is installing a new CB radio today. I took a picture of the tools we carry in Pearl when we ride trails. It is also a very good idea to carry fluids for the brakes, radiator, transmission, etc. 

So, back to fun stuff...our next stop was the overlook. And what a spectacular overlook it was!

The Colorado River

Looking down on Fischer Towers

Taking in the's always amazing to see the beauty and grandeur of it all. 

Professor Valley

Professor Valley framed by the La Sal Mountains and Scenic Hwy 128

With more to see and do, we were on our way again...

The Caves Spring were our next stop.
Exploring wind caves is cool...literally, and these were no exception. Add to that the darkness, dampness, and scariness of not knowing what is in there makes for an eerie feeling. 

As I climbed over the sandy entrance, the darkness swallowed everything. Then 2 beams of light...

My camera shows the I face to face with two Neanderthals or is it just Dave and Richie playing games?

Our next ride on Owl Draw was very pretty and mostly smooth sailing as we climbed the plateau again. 

Our last stop along the way was the old mining camp where two cabins that were built with railroad ties have withstood the test of time and weather.

Installation added at some point, was cardboard attached to the ceiling and walls with tin can lids and nails.

Joe did a great job of holding things together while we checked it all out! 

We continued on Owl Draw until the end of trail at Hwy 128 a few miles east from where we started on the same highway. 

Dome Plateau is certainly a fun trail to do. Allow 6 to 7 hours if exploring and taking small hikes is something you enjoy. Well worth the time! 

Until next time, happy days and...


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dome Plateau, Part 1

Portal RV Resort
Moab, UT
May 27, 2015

By 9:00 am Wednesday morning, skies were bright blue, lunch (two smoothies in a freezer bag) was packed, gas tank was full, and we were on our way to Dome Plateau with Lynn, Dave and Richie.

The trail begins at the historic Dewey Bridge on Hwy 128 about 25ish miles from Portal. 

Before we started the actual trail, we explored a two level domicile chiseled into the base of a huge rock structure located just past Dewey Bridge. It was pretty neat...had a fire place, an upstairs, and plumbing...with a very nice view!  At some point the ceiling, although reinforced with plates and steel rods, had collapsed just in front of the fireplace.  We commented that hopefully the occupants had moved on prior to the collapse.

While there, we observed cliff Swallows. They fly in fast and dive head first into very intricate mud nests. Colonies like these are usually large with busy birds building and/or chasing insects. 

We could see the bright forehead in the dim entrance of several nests. 

We named that rock... locomotive.
Dome Plateau is listed at the bottom of the moderate trails in the 2nd Edtition 4-Wheel Backroads Guide. It is 34 miles of off-road beauty with lots to explore along the way.

The trail heads west as it follows the Colorado River with a series of small rocky ledges to climb on private property. There is a gate to open and close when passing through.

There is lots to explore on DP...arches, natural wind-formed caves, grand overlooks, and even cabins from an old mining camp.

 As we were getting into a rhythm Joe and I saw something white roll out on the trail in front of us.  We stopped to check it out. This snake had just snagged a meal...a first for us to see.  Although it seems cruel, it is the way of nature and as shocking as it was to witness we felt honored to have the opportunity.

We believe the gopher snake had just captured it's prey and his struggle to hold his asphyxiating grip caused them to roll from the tall grass into our path.

He slowly uncoiled...

...took hold of his meal...
...and carried it away from the trail.

We left as the "transport cycle" to get his meal to his belly began.

We were looking for 3 "noteworthy" arches.
The first few miles follows below the line of sandstone cliffs. 
We parked and took a small hike to what we think is the first arch. Our guide was published in 2008. Since that time, wind and rain have not been kind to this one. 

The second arch we spotted from the trail. 

And the third arch was our lunch spot. 

This arch is named La Boca...translated The Mouth.

This is a great lunch spot. Nice and cool!

Richie flew his drone through La Boca. I cant wait to see the video and pictures!
From there, it was off to "Again-and Again Hill", but that will be Part 2 as I have included way too many pictures.

Yikes! How did that get in here?

I was thrilled to find untouched desert crust (cryptobiotic soil) with established plants. "Don't crush the crust!"
Until part 2, happy days and...