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...



  1. What a fun ride! Now this is a trail I think I would enjoy with an unmodified Jeep. How neat to watch the snake with its prey! An unusual sight for sure. I love that there are arches along the way. Beautiful spot for lunch:)

    1. The guide says a stock 4 wheel drive with experience driver can do the trail. Our book is 8 years old and the trail has clearly deteriorated. There are a couple of aggressive spots that we think a stock jeep with 32 inch tires and no lift will have some clearance issues. It can be done, but you will likely have some hits on the frame and/or bumpers. The obstacles do not have "go arounds". Good advice...don't go alone Pam!

  2. I can't figure out that second picture. It's looks like it might be part of the bridge, but those things (strings?) are just hanging down not attached to anything below.

    That snake sequence is fantastic! What an amazing thing to see. Don't you just love nature in action! We saw a coopers hawk swoop down and attack a coot once. The coot was too big for it to fly away with so it just had to stay there and peck off pieces. Incredible.

    1. The historic Dewey Bridge was a suspension bridge. I believe the cables hanging down are part of the original construction to hold the wooden bridge which was burned in a fire.

      I am so glad you and Pam liked the snake was amazing Lisa! Opportunities to witness events like the Coopers hawk pecking off pieces for dinner are few and a priviledge!

  3. You two are certainly busy. Again, and as usual, I loved your pictures. The snake one was amazing.

    1. Thank you Jeri! We have been busy...a good and fun busy! Somehow, we have got to make time for some walking trails! I am missing our hikes.....