Driving the Shafer Trail, Cayonlands NP

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My wife and I enjoyed the adventure of driving the Shafer Trail from Island in the Sky down to Maob in 1994. On our recent trip to Utah and Arizona, we wanted to drive the Shafer Trail in the upward direction. The day (9 May) started with heavy rain showers in Moab, and since this road is said to be impassable when wet, we were about to abandon the idea. But we drove out to the beginning of the road to see what the situation was, and were surprised to find that only a dust-settling shower had fallen there.

So we set off...

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We stopped briefly for me to try to restore the natural order:

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Clumps of wildflowers adorned the barren landscape.

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We enjoyed brief views of the Colorado River, but ominous dark clouds increased our anxiety level:

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But the rain showers passed us by and left a beautiful day:

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Bottle brush were spectacular against the red sandstone:

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Through-the-windshield shot as we await the passage of a Jeep caravan...

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Negotiating a tricky wash crossing:

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Another through-the-windshield shot reveals the climb ahead:

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Please don't miss the second installment below.
 
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Glens Falls, NY
My wife and I enjoyed the adventure of driving the Shafer Trail from Island in the Sky down to Maob in 1994. On our recent trip to Utah and Arizona, we wanted to drive the Shafer Trail in the upward direction. The day (9 May) started with heavy rain showers in Moab, and since this road is said to be impassable when wet, we were about to abandon the idea. But we drove out to the beginning of the road to see what the situation was, and were surprised to find that only a dust-settling shower had fallen there.

So we set off...

http://fish-n-float.smugmug.com/Travel/Utah-Arizona-May-2011/i-JwdjL88/0/O/JRT7984sm.jpg

We stopped briefly for me to try to restore the natural order:

http://fish-n-float.smugmug.com/Travel/Utah-Arizona-May-2011/i-d4MCH4K/0/O/DSC4190sm.jpg

Clumps of wildflowers adorned the barren landscape.

http://fish-n-float.smugmug.com/Travel/Utah-Arizona-May-2011/i-MdG3chp/0/O/JRT7991sm.jpg

We enjoyed brief views of the Colorado River, but ominous dark clouds increased our anxiety level:

http://fish-n-float.smugmug.com/Travel/Utah-Arizona-May-2011/i-fHSRsWN/0/O/JRT7996sm.jpg

http://fish-n-float.smugmug.com/Travel/Utah-Arizona-May-2011/i-XhJKj3K/0/O/JRT8015sm.jpg

But the rain showers passed us by and left a beautiful day:

http://fish-n-float.smugmug.com/Travel/Utah-Arizona-May-2011/i-JpCHtZs/0/O/JRT8033sm.jpg

Bottle brush were spectacular against the red sandstone:

http://fish-n-float.smugmug.com/Travel/Utah-Arizona-May-2011/i-QJDz3gd/0/O/DSC4317sm.jpg

Through-the-windshield shot as we await the passage of a Jeep caravan...

http://fish-n-float.smugmug.com/Travel/Utah-Arizona-May-2011/i-NTPMthn/0/O/DSC4324sm.jpg

Negotiating a tricky wash crossing:

http://fish-n-float.smugmug.com/Travel/Utah-Arizona-May-2011/i-hmHqnN7/0/O/DSC4341sm.jpg

Another through-the-windshield shot reveals the climb ahead:

http://fish-n-float.smugmug.com/Travel/Utah-Arizona-May-2011/i-tL9NftS/0/O/JRT8045sm.jpg
Once again, beautiful images of a beautiful section of our country!

...and Thanks for cleaning that stretch of road in #2! :biggrin:
 
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Beginning the climb, we can look back on where we have been:

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Climbing up the switchbacks...

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As we near the top, the views open up to distant vistas of the LaSal Mountains:

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Finally, at the top there is a view that reveals the route we have negotiated.

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This is magnificent country and I never get enough of it!
 
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Western Slope of Colorado
Jim -

Beautiful and evocative photos - I was hoping to see some of what you and Beth shot on your trek. Who was driving on all those switchbacks? :biggrin:

I've been to Arches, but not to Canyonlands, and the next time I'm able to visit those parts, I will definitely put it on my agenda.

All the best to you both, and thanks for stopping by on your way out . . .
 
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These are brilliant; I love each and every one of them. Well done, Jim!
Thanks very much, Lyndee. Glad you enjoyed them.

Jim -

Beautiful and evocative photos - I was hoping to see some of what you and Beth shot on your trek. Who was driving on all those switchbacks? :biggrin:

I've been to Arches, but not to Canyonlands, and the next time I'm able to visit those parts, I will definitely put it on my agenda.

All the best to you both, and thanks for stopping by on your way out . . .
Thanks, Eric. It really is a neat place to visit.
 
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Great travelogue, Jim. I stopped at that overlook in your last image and wondered what it would be like to drive that trail (road is overstating!). Thanks for showing and kudos for the accomplishment.
Thanks. The switchbacks were mainly a challenge because they are so abrupt, but the main challenge was negotiating the rough wash crossings before the climb started.

Beautiful shots -- beautiful country ...
thanks for taking us along Jim ...

that looks like a wild road to traverse ---

ron
My pleasure, Ron.

wow! that is just amazing, so many great pictures and beautiful places!
thanks for sharing!
Many thanks.

Beautiful! Wonderful wild rough landscape and you gave us very good photos! Thanks indeed for sharing.
Rough but beautiful, Rob. And several of the photos were made by Mrs. T.
 

LyndeeLoo

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Jim, I would love to take that trip, but all those switchbacks! Honestly, I don't know if my nerves could take it. I know your images don't show a lot of vehicles, but did you find a lot of folk travelling about the same time as you?
 
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Jim, I would love to take that trip, but all those switchbacks! Honestly, I don't know if my nerves could take it. I know your images don't show a lot of vehicles, but did you find a lot of folk travelling about the same time as you?
:biggrin: The switchbacks were fun! You drive a trail like that at very slow speed and enjoy the scenery.

The Jeep caravan in one of the photos and two other vehicles were all that we saw on the trail until we were nearly at the top. There we met a group of four girls in a Honda Pilot headed down. I flagged them down and took a good look at the ground clearance of that vehicle. Then I convinced them to turn around. I think they would have had some trouble.

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Idaho
I loved hearing about your adventure on the trail and seeing your wonderful photos. It is very similar to my experience three years ago. You even commented on my post, then.

https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=170258&highlight=shafer+trail

I wonder if everyone does the rock balancing photo....

My brother in law had to pose by the rock.

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I saw a book the other day that had the same location and pose on the cover!!
 
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Joined
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SW Virginia
I loved hearing about your adventure on the trail and seeing your wonderful photos. It is very similar to my experience three years ago. You even commented on my post, then.

https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=170258&highlight=shafer+trail

I wonder if everyone does the rock balancing photo....

My brother in law had to pose by the rock.

http://terrif.zenfolio.com/img/v4/p749096081-4.jpg

http://terrif.zenfolio.com/img/v4/p712404333-4.jpg
I saw a book the other day that had the same location and pose on the cover!!
Thanks for reminding me, Terri. I had forgotten your post! Amazing how similar our photos are. But then we did apparently do it at the same time of year.
 
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Another wonderful series Jim. Can't wait until I get the time to make trips like that.
 
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