We had not heard of, nor seen a Gooseneck, nor the awesome cliffs and mesas of Valley of the Gods, nor Bluff, UT for that matter, until now. All firsts….as the other stops on this itinerary have been visited a couple of times, most recently 2007.
From Moab we headed south on UT-191, with a stop in Blanding to check out the Visitor’s Center, and do some shopping at Clarke’s Market; then on to Bluff per Happy Trails, a testament to their great photos and narrative.
We headed through town, past the RV parks, and on to Sand Island BLM campground, about 5 miles west of Bluff, where we found the perfect, most beautiful site right on the San Juan River. There were no crowds, very few people actually, just the daily rafting groups gathering to launch for the 30 mile, 3 day, float trip to Mexican Hat. We breathe a sigh of relief...ahhh….we can actually breathe fresh, clean air; put out the chairs and just sit for the rest of the day enjoying the sounds of the river, and beautiful scenery. This is our kind of place!
Sand Island also has a very impressive wall of Petroglyphs that can be reached by vehicle or a short walk, maybe ½ mile. They are well-marked and easily accessible along a cliff face that stretches for a hundred feet or so. Signs date the glyphs at 300 to 3000 years old (the website says different). I love seeing the original Kokopelli in rock art!
There was a full day exploring Valley of the Gods along 17 miles of BLM backroads, stopping frequently for photos and admiring the formations and remnants of this ancient landscape, similar to Monument Valley, but smaller and no crowds. The road brought us out on UT-261, the Moki Dugway; a driving experience in itself.
We turned south for Goosenecks State Park, not prepared for what awaited us at road’s end. The San Juan River, the longest entrenched river meander in North America, twists and turns, covering more than 6 miles while advancing less than 2 miles toward Lake Powell, carving a deep canyon 1500’ below our viewpoint…and formations of geologic layers that do look like goosenecks!
We were so close we had to continue on to Mexican Hat...
Had it not been for the “schedule”, we could have stayed here the entire 15 days allowable by the Bureau of Land Management. If boondocking is your thing, or kayaking, with beautiful scenery, and maybe a first experience, or two thrown in…then be sure and include this in your trip planning!