Day 24 – Willow Springs Rd to Caineville

Overland Camping Roadtrip Blog

Travel Day 24:

Total km driven to date: 5472km

Total km walked to date: 200.8km

Willow Springs Rd, UT – Caineville, UT

550km drive

9.70km on foot

                Well last night was my first introduction to the heat of the desert, I was expecting it to cool of after dark, but it was still 34* by midnight in my camper, not the best nights sleep sweating and tossing and turning. The sun rose at about 5:30am and it was 26*, so it sure didn’t cool down much, but such is life. At this point I can say I will be quickly traveling north after the Glen Helen race in San Bernadino on July 9-11. My next event is in southern Washington state so that shouldn’t be too bad, until I’m heading into Reno for the middle of August!

                Due to the heat I was out of bed by 6:30 and on the road shortly after 7am heading the 1/2hr drive to the Canyonlands National Park. I also learned that not only is it much cooler that early in the morning but there is practically no one at the park which is so much nicer to sight see without having to fight for parking spaces and try to take pictures around all the looky-loo’s! I am kicking myself for not being more motivated and getting to the park at 5am to catch the sunrise but I didn’t get much sleep last night. Now about Canyonlands National Park, there is two completely separate sides to the park and after some reading I decided to do the “Island in the Sky” side as the larger and more impressive of the two. The “Needles” southern portion of the park is over 150km away. You will see why by looking at the pictures and where the name comes from. Essentially the Island in the Sky is a huge plateau with only one entrance and surround on the other sides by 1400ft cliffs dropping to the desert floor. It is very impressive and awe inspiring, also no guard rails anywhere, just your own good sense. Apparently I have a lot less fear of heights compared to pretty much everyone else since I saw a lot of people laying down looking over the edge or just staying 10ft back, but honestly where is the fun in that. I drove through the park and hit all the major things to see and even snuck in a 6km hike out to the “Grand View Point Outlook” which was very impressive hiking along the rim of the cliff the entire way. Easy hike, flat and well marked over the rocks and not too hot at 8:30am. After seeing almost everything to see by 10:30am I headed back into Moab to figure out my next destination.

                Doing a bit of google mapping and wanting to give Axel a chance to do some swimming since he is hating the heat I decided to head down Hwy 191 to Hwy 95 and head to Lake Powell to the town of Hite to camp for the night and go swimming. Big mistake. After turning off of 191 you are faced with 150km of absolute nothing, just rocks and scrub and cliffs and not a single town, manmade structure or anything, which is a little scary when its 37* outside and you’re driving an older truck. I also had my mind blowing desert event of the day when I stopped to pee on the side of the road and as I was peeing a 8″ long lizard ran out and stood in my pee and then ran away. I’m not sure what kind of lizard but clearly it was of the Golden Shower genus, clearly any moisture is that important out here.

                After 3 hours of driving (I spent an hour and a half on 191 as well) I finally get to Hite. Well due to the drought and the dropping water level in Lake Powell there is no Hite, yes there is a few buildings, and some forlorn campsites that clearly used to be waterfront but now are hundreds of feet from any water. Also the water is surrounded by 50ft of thick marsh and brush and we couldn’t even get to the water after all that driving. It was extremely baking hot in the canyon and very discouraging. Looking on the map again my only choice was to backtrack the whole way, or continue north on Hwy 95 to Hanksville which is a tiny town in some very desolate country over an hour away. As you guessed I went that way since there was no way I was back tracking that far. By the time I left Hite it was 6pm but still extremely hot in the canyons and at this rate was passing less than a car an hour so I wasn’t comfortable turning into the back country that far removed, nor did I really see any great spots. I can do desert, this landscape looked more like Mars, just red rocks and very few living things. Its very desolate and depressing country and I was really getting discouraged. I finally made it to Hanksville to fill up with gas (second fill up today, dammit, I didnt want to drive that far, it was an expensive day, considering the gas in Hanksville was $3.39/Gal, by far the most expensive yet.) It was after 7pm and I had no prospects of a spot to camp and it gets dark quickly in the desert come 9pm so I turned down Hwy 24 which heads generally in the right direction and was on the lookout for a spot. About another 50km down the road I saw an ok place (check the pictures) and that is where I sit now, I had just enough time to bbq some smokies and have a quick shower and now im sitting here at 10pm with it still above 31* in my camper. Frustrating day, I love how the desert looks for photography but I am much happier in the forest and mountains on a river.

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