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.
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.
The Lake Powell Air Affaire was one of the most dramatic air shows I’d ever experienced. The combination of dramatic landscape, highly skilled pilots and advanced aircraft made for an awe-inspiring sensory feast! That is, until the events of September 11, 2001. The show was shelved until 2010 when it returned as Lake Powell Wings & Wheels.
According to the Lake Powell Chronicle this year’s event will be on October 13 (2012):
Here’s your chance to get up close and personal with aircraft you don’t see every day. Get a blast from the past checking out cars older than Page. See CJ6 military trainers fly in and show their stuff. Watch ultralights land in Page after taking off from Marble Canyon. Vote for your favorite locally-owned aircraft, model airplanes and classic cars on display. See skydivers fall from the sky. Ride along with a local pilot. Get a view of Page you’ve never seen before.
Here are a few of my favorite photographs I took from around 1998:
If you’re near Page, AZ and want to see a spectacular event on the ground and in the air this is the event you MUST see. Check out the !
If your explorations of Lake Powell are on land and you’re the adventurous type there is the most amazing place to surround yourself with the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Alstrom Point can be reached carefully by car in the right conditions, often by a vehicle with sufficient ground clearance, usually by 4×4 or offroad vehicle, and sometimes not at all — some sections of the road are impassible when wet, raining or when the Pariah river is deep. Yes, there is a river crossing.
From there you are climbing up to the rim of the Glen Canyon, passing through some old cattle roads, a grave or two, scrambling over rock-strewn slickrock, bogging down in drifting sand and eventually out over Lake Powell.
I’ve spent so much time at this place that I will definitely have to dedicate quite a few posts to it. Let’s start with some photographs to give you an idea of the kinds of views you can experience from this very special place.
One calm morning after camping on Alstrom Point I was treated to some glass-smooth water and a chance to take some atypical photos. The almost aerial perspective and reflections made for an abstract image that I really like. The water is so smooth that you can see the reflection of clouds overhead.
Here’s another slightly abstract landscape: what appears to be a small kidney floating in a sea of blue is likely the top of a massive rock formation.
Looking across Padre Bay to Gunsight Butte, named for its resemblance of a rifle barrel and end sight, across Gunsight Bay and off to Navajo Mountain.