Saturday, April 23, 2016

Cathedral Valley, Utah

Friday, the 23rd of April, I drove my loving wife's car, the X5 Bimmer, trailering Fiona, my '99 URAL Patrol sidecar rig with the Beemer engine.  It was time for the yearly meeting of Ural sidecarists in Moab you see; but I wanted to work in a visit to Cathedral Valley in the Capitol Reef National Park.

Got there in the middle of the afternoon, checking out the 25 kilometers it takes to get to this remote valley from UT Highway 24.  I was hoping to be able to later drive the car/trailer in to the planned campsite.  It turned out to be too many patches of loose sand for my comfort.

 Our first look at the two big rock formations in Cathedral Valley:
Left: Temple of the Moon and Right: Temple of the Sun

 Temple of the Sun

 I've been told I should include more pictures of myself.
Glad I was the only one in the whole valley as I felt a bit foolish
getting the above and below shots.

 It sadly wasn't much of a colorful sunset on Friday.

I camped just at the border of the Capitol Reef National Park, on Bureau of Land Management or BLM land.  I was, I am pretty sure, the sole person in the whole valley, had it all to myself.  It was very windy however, so I didn't get much sleep with all the wind noises and watching the walls of my tent threaten to cave in on top of me!

Finally, sometime after midnight, I finally fell asleep, but didn't get more than a couple of hours of uninterrupted sleep I think.  My alarm woke me at 5:30 AM and as I opened my eyes, I saw what appeared to be the sun shining through the tent ceiling!  I thought I'd missed the sunrise, turns out it was a very bright moon shining through due to my rain cover having been ripped off by the winds!

It wasn't too cold, so I geared up and got on Fiona to enter the park and drive less than one mile to what I thought was a nice spot to capture the moon and the Temple of the Sun rock formation:


Sunrise came but it took a while before its light actually hit the rock formations in Cathedral Valley.  The initial painting done by the sun's light was gorgeous!



As the sun rose higher in the sky, the warm reds and oranges went away but there was still some good color whenever the sun shone out from behind the clouds in the eastern sky.


 The road that gets one near both rock formations allows for good
angles on the Temple of the Sun but I failed to get good angles for
the Temple of the Moon

I left Cathedral Valley around 8:20 AM and got back to the spot where I'd left the car/trailer.  Loaded up Fiona and we motored over to Torrey, UT.  I checked in with my loving wife as there had been no cellphone coverage anywhere near Caineville, UT where the road begins to Cathedral Valley.

To the south I saw thick gray clouds and it was lightly sleeting on us there in Torrey.  So I canceled the plan to ride UT Highway 12 towards Escalante, it'll have to be some other day.

Instead I retraced my way along UT Highway 24 back to the I-70 Superslab and took it eastbound to exit 182 for Moab, UT.

Got there shortly after 1:00 PM, the whole area was being sand blasted by very strong winds which picked up the loose sand and flayed exposed skin.  The wind was so bad that the campsite office where I had reservations lost power and I couldn't check in.

I unloaded Fiona from the trailer and motored over to Cotter Mine road, thinking I'd see how rough the Seven Mile Ridge road was to negotiate.  It turned out to be quite nasty, strewn with large rocks, larger ruts and a steep narrow trail with sharp drop-offs.  I went up just to the first turn and chickened out.

The view of Seven Mile Ridge, the top of which I'd
hope to get to, but not on a URAL!

When I returned to the Archview Resort, I took the time to fix (again) the ground wire for the main headlight which wasn't working.  By the time I finished, they'd restored power to the campsite office and I was able to check in.

Got myself settled in, going to call it an early night, tired from a restless night in Cathedral Valley!
I sort of miss the alone time I had in that valley, the Archview resort is swarming with campers, RVs, and vehicles moving about even at 9:00 PM as I finish this!

The Uralisti start to arrive tomorrow, it should be a fun time, at least till I have to leave to go back home on Thursday.

20 comments:

Ry Austin said...

You certainly captured some spectacular southern Utah color there, Dom. And it's great that you got Fiona roadworthy in time.

Charlie6 said...

Thanks, Ry Austin, glad I got her ready as well. Moab and riding so far should prove if my efforts were good enough.

RichardM said...


Traffic in Capitol Reef is a fraction of Bryce/Zion/Arches. Maybe because it lacks some of the "wow" features. But it looks like you found some with your sunrise photos.

It'll be interesting to see how the Beemer powered rig does. I still like the idea for a more reliable Ural.

Xia D. said...

That moon shot is one of the most beautiful I've seen!

Xia D. said...

By the way, I'm jealous. I'll try to get down there on my Ural next year.

Charlie6 said...

Thanks Xia D.

Charlie6 said...

The more the merrier!

Charlie6 said...

From your lips to the mechanical gods RichardM!

Trobairitz said...

Must have been a little eerie to be the only one out in the wilderness at night. You sure captured some beautiful photos though.

I chuckled when you said someone mentioned you needed more pictures of yourself. It reminded me of Bobskoot. He once asked me why I didn't have more people in my pictures.

Charlie6 said...

It was a tad eerie bit then the sometimes hurricane force winds took my mind off that. Thanks for the comments Trobairitz

SonjaM said...

Wow, Dom. These colours are otherworldly, and colours aside your photos are nicely composed. And great job on working yourself in. I like it! Moments like the moonshine pic are well worth a sleepless night. Enjoy your Ural meeting.

Unknown said...

Weather this April in much of the southwest has been very unsettled. We have been on the road all month and have enjoyed "good" weather only about 1/4 to 1/3 of the time. We are fair weather adventurers.

The past several Aprils have been far more favorable.

Charlie6 said...

Danke SonjaM, the Uralisti are slowly trickling in to the camp. Since my being in the pic hasn't been met by the expected horror I will try some more.

Charlie6 said...

Unsettled, good word for it! Nice today, windstorms yesterday, we'll see how it all works out.

bluekat said...

Beautiful pictures, not that I expected any different. I love the one with the moon. Gorgeous and unique. I also like that you include yourself in some of the photos. Always a nice touch.

B.D. Jones said...

I love Cathedral Valley and have camped there many many times. Mid to late May is nice because the cactus are flowering.

I stayed at the Archview campground once. I did not like it for all the ATV activity. But the shower facilities are open to the public, so that's handy if you're passing thru/visiting Moab on a motorcycle.

Charlie6 said...

Thank you Kari for the comments.

Charlie6 said...

Definitely lots of ATV activities here but not bad, thanks for commenting BD Jones

Thomas Osburn said...

Only visited Utah once, Arches NP. Beautiful landscape. I hope to ride in Utah more. Great photos, as usual.

Charlie6 said...

As RichardM said, Capitol Reef doesn't have Arches' wow factor but it's more crowded as well. Thanks.