Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Lazy Sunday Drive on Thursday!

Portal Rv Resort
Moab, UT
May 19, 2016

What a treat it was to join in on a pre-run to Polar Mesa that the Red Rock 4 Wheelers were doing. John and Carol, led our group of 5 jeeps, followed by Ber, us, Dee, and Mike and Joanne, the tail gunners for the day. It was like a lazy Sunday drive only it was Thursday!  Joe and I have driven Onion Creek and Thompson Canyon several times, but had never gone as far as Polar Mesa (You will love this Ronnie and Carol.).  We clocked a total of nearly 75 miles round trip.  

Onion Creek continues to be one of my favorite rides if for no other reason, it is the first trail Joe and I ever drove when we were in Moab for the first time 4 years ago. Right from the get go, there are creek crossings.  Mike counted 32 crossings.  I tried once to count them, but the "wows" and camera action took precedence.

My favorite section of Onion Creek is Gypsum Squeeze. It is colorful and sometimes a little stinky (thus the name Onion Creek) from all the sulphur.  

Just as we turned onto Onion Creek, I attempted to take pictures with my Nikon.  Sadly, I discovered I had left its SD memory card at home plugged into our laptop.  So all our memory shots are taken with my iPhone.

We spotted several Chukars, a beautiful bird in the partridge family, along the creek side.

Onion Creek and the trail cut through Fisher Canyon so if you have never seen the towers, its a great way to get an up close look.  Climbing out of the canyon is a jaw dropping experience...well at least for me it is.   A narrow shelf road adds to the excitement. 

Onion Creek dead ends. You can turn around or take a left hand turn and follow the Thompson Canyon trail.  There is a gate at the top of the ridge before you drop down scenic switchbacks.  Rules are, leave the gate as you find it.   The wildflowers were unbelievably gorgeous covering the banks with yellows, purples, reds, whites and pinks.  There is a spur trail to Hideout Campground, but signage for the main trail is clear.    

Most of Thompson Canyon trail is gravel/rocks with one steep, narrow climb.  When you get to a "T" in the road, turn left for Polar Mesa.  Polar Mesa is mostly a dirt trail with continuing spectacular scenery around every curve.  The mix of dark grey clouds, blue skies and shadows added to the beauty.  

Our lunch spot was on top of Polar Mesa at the derrick left behind from the mining days.

L-R : Mike and Joanne, Joe, John and Carol and Dee

 We thoroughly enjoyed the stories Ber (in the red jacket) shared about his dad traveling these same roads in a hauling truck back in the early 1900s.  Ber is amazing and fast becoming one our heroes.

Our route from there made a loop on a less traveled trail, but very legal, back to the mail trail...

...and down we went and crossed the meadow with the open range cattle.

This section of our ride took us through a Ponderosa Pine forest. 

Then we turned right onto Castletown-Gateway Road #207. The aspens in the LaSals are just beginning to leaf out.

Shortly after the pavement begins, there is a look-out stop with a vault toilet.  Mike showed us the designated path through a new gate, which led to dinosaur tracks.

While there Ber and Dee checked under Ber's jeep.  He said it just wasn't running right.  No worries...he made it home just fine.

The views of Castle Valley as we drive down the mountain...

If you ever find yourself in Moab and want a quiet, peaceful drive through breathtaking scenery, this is the one.  Onion Creek and Thompson Canyon/Polar Mesa are listed under the easy trails in the Charles Wells book Guide to Moab,UT Backroads & 4-Wheel-Drive Trails.   

Until next time, happy days and...



  1. I feel your pain, it drives me nus when I have to take photos with my cell phone!

    Love the Chukar! I've never seen one, only hear their unique call when we were hiking up to Hidden Meadow.

    1. They are so pretty Lisa. Last year we saw a mama with 4 babies in just about the same spot.

  2. I love those lazy Sunday drives no matter what day of the week they are on. However, it really doesn't seem like yours was that lazy !!

    1. Compared to most of our rides, this was very lazy Jeri and so much fun!

  3. With all of our outings, how do we still forget things! I could have screamed when I realized I left the camera home and couldn't zoom on the Indian art. Of all the adventures to forget the camera! Thank goodness the cell phones do such a great job, but they don't zoom well. I love this trip! Can't wait for you to take us out there:) I really miss Moab. Keep those photos coming, please:)

    1. I am just glad to read I am not the only one to forget the camera...I feel much better! This is a ride you will enjoy Pam...can't wait till we can go together!