Day 4: Cannonville, UT to Moab, UT
It turns out; the least known National Forest on our adventure was the most fun. I’m talking about Dixie National Forest. Dixie is just outside Bryce Canyon, and it seems like it was made for our trip. Our first dirt roads after departing Cannonville, Dixie National Forest provided us with mile after mile of perfectly groomed smooth gravel roads. The really neat thing about Dixie is how wide open it is. Rarely can you not see around the bend in Dixie. We took full advantage of this.
Dixie National Forest emptied out into the small farming community of Torry, UT. Beautiful fields and sheep were a plenty here. It was a perfect Main Street kind of town. From Torry we took the highway to Fishlake National Forest. Although we did not get the chance to take the Great Western Trail, a portion of the infamous trail goes right through Fishlake. Bummer we were not headed northwest. We were only in Fishlake a short time before coming to Capital Reef National Park.
Originally, I had planned to drive through Capital Reef Park. Those who have been to this absolutely beautiful area know this is not possible. It is one way in, and one way out. Back in the 1940’s however, it was possible to drive though, and the park has some really cool pictures of people in Packards driving though the Park. Some of the drive in is paved and some is dirt. This is another do not miss place. Huge rock canyons and a wide variety of color take you back in time. Bring your camera and give yourself a few hours to make it to the end of the Canyon to a place called the Grand Gorge.
We had a short highway section after leaving Capital Reef Park. Lunch was in Hanksville, UT where we stopped at a little place next to the road where they had a wonderful old wooden bar stocked only with books. No bottles of booze in this town. After lunch there were many opportunities to take pictures of old mills, petro glyphs, and several buildings of historical significance. This is a very fertile farming valley with a ton of history.
Our next dirt section was also one of my favorites, and this is coming off of Dixie National Forest. I don’t even know the name of where we were. We were just outside of Hanksville, UT and maybe 75 miles south of Greenville, UT. The roads were a perfect combination of sand, gravel and banked berms that provided traction and lots of fun turns. We had a bit of a hard time finding the right roads, but getting lost here was part of the fun. In the back of my mind, I knew we had a challenge ahead. There was a tributary of the Green River in between us and Greensville, UT and it had to be crossed. I was not sure where, and even if, it could be crossed. We ran into a Nissan Pathfinder who provided us with the needed information. The river was crossable, but not where I had planned on crossing. This was good news, even though it was further than we had intended. I was feeling pretty confident in the truck, and I was also relieved to know our path would be able to continue to Greenville.
I remember talking to Gary telling him that this section reminded me of Pikes Peak as I throttled my way around an uphill turn. Before reaching the summit, I caught a glimpse of a road that continued straight ahead. I got back into the throttle and prepared to crest the hill and continue straight. Only thing, the road did not go straight. It made a 90-degree left after the rise instead. There was a smaller trail straight but between the main road and the straight one was a pretty good size ditch. The ditch was big enough to roll the truck over if I hit it sideways. I tried to scrub off as much speed before the ditch and in enough time to unload the front suspension for impact. The truck soaked it up. I hit the front skid plate fairly hard, caving it in a bit, but also allowing the front end to make it through pretty well. My mistake for sure, and it could have been much worse, but we ended up on our wheels and the truck was fine. That was my warning. Time to slow down a bit.
Looking back, I can’t remember if the fly-by happened before the “incident” or after. Either way, we spotted a single engine aircraft in the distance. By the time we got the cameras rolling, the plane was only 30 feet above the deck and coming right at us. The gap between was closing quick as we were probably going 90+ and the plane 150+. He tilted his wings as the plane crossed our truck and then he was gone. Pretty cool moment in the middle of absolutely nowhere.
We had hoped to take the final miles into Moab, UT on dirt, and we almost did. We were making slow progress on old Jeep roads until we had to stop. The trail we were on was going to take us right into Moab, but it was also going to rip the under side of the truck apart. We needed more clearance and shorter wheelbase to continue. Moab is packed with awesome Jeep roads. Maybe in the future, we will see more Raptor roads.
Moab was warm and crowded. We had some great Mexican food, and a few drinks around town. We didn’t have time to see Arches National Park that day, so we would have to do it in the morning. We stayed at the Gonzo Inn. I highly recommend it. It was a great day of roads, towns, people, and scenery. Tomorrow, we would be in Telluride, CO, our final destination.