Cottonwood Canyon

Grand Staircase-Escalante Cottonwood Canyon Road

I love the Grand Staircase-Escalante area because of its relatively unspoiled wilderness and unique geography, flora and fauna. It’s a short ways away from Lake Powell and for those who want to see what rugged Southern Utah has to offer it is relative accessible.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is responsible for land use planning efforts on approximately 1.9 million acres of public land within the Monument’s boundaries in south central Utah. The planning area also includes an additional 200,000 acres of public land that falls within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Here are some photographs I took on a trip along Cottonwood Canyon Road as a scenic short-cut to Kodachrome Basin and Bryce. And Yes, I was shooting Kodachrome 64.

I brought along a first-aid kit (which I kept on myself), a gallon of water and some trail-mix. It was hot, dusty and absolutely mind-bending – worth the experience in dry weather, 100% to be avoided if wet.

Grand Staircase Escalante Sign
Grand Staircase Escalante Sign
Grand Staircase Escalante Cactus Copyright © Ryan Hertz
Grand Staircase Escalante Copyright © Ryan Hertz
Grand Staircase Escalante Cottonwood Canyon  Copyright © Ryan Hertz
Grand Staircase Escalante Cottonwood Canyon Sandstone Formations Copyright © Ryan Hertz
Cottonwood Canyon
Cottonwood Canyon Sandstone Formations Copyright © Ryan Hertz
Cottonwood Canyon from Road
Cottonwood Canyon from Cottonwood Canyon Road Copyright © Ryan Hertz
Lone Cottonwood, Cottonwood Canyon Road Copyright © Ryan Hertz
Lone Cottonwood, Cottonwood Canyon Road Copyright © Ryan Hertz
Indian Paintbrush Flower
Indian Paintbrush Flower Grand Staircase Escalante Copyright © Ryan Hertz
Grand Staircase Escalante Canyon
Grand Staircase Escalante Canyon Copyright © Ryan Hertz
Cottonwood Canyon
Cottonwoods in Cottonwood Canyon Copyright © Ryan Hertz

From WikiPedia:

Road 400 (Cottonwood Canyon Road) is a scenic 47 mile dirt road connecting U.S. Highway 89 with Utah S.R 12 at Cannonville. It traverses portions of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument offering a unique view into the heart of the Monument. The only other road (Smoky Mountain Road) crossing the entire Grand Staircase is also unpaved, nearly twice as long, and requires at a minimum a high clearance vehicle.

Road 400 is a reasonably good quality dirt road (mostly sand and clay over a sandstone foundation) during dry weather. If the road has been recently graded it may be suitable for passenger cars, however high clearance vehicles are recommended.

Originally constructed as a maintenance road for power lines following the canyon, it is considered impassable in wet weather. Many sections traverse ancient seabed deposits of mudstone, silt, and shale. When wet the clay surface becomes exceptionally slick, rendering even four wheel drive useless. Additionally many drainages cross the road in various locations, and these may wash out during periodic flash flooding, particularly during summer thunderstorms. Even in dry weather the road can be muddy to the point of being impassable in low areas.

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