As we start off to the Grand Canyon, we get to traverse the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Descending the Grand Staircase, we travel down through older and older rock strata, past the Pink Cliffs and the Grey, past Zion and down the White Cliffs, then through the Vermilion Cliffs to Kanab.
Always wanting to explore backcountry, we started with a visit to Kodachrome Basin State Park (southeast from Bryce, near the "94" on the map above.) It's been 20 years since I first visited that park on one of my first solo road trips.
The whole area of GSENM is a vast panorama of contours and colors. At dawn or dusk, the hard decision is always where to point your camera...
and as always wanting to explore new territory, we decide to take the rocky and remote backroad along Cottonwood Creek to eventually take us to Highway 89 and thence to the Grand Canyon.
Don't take such roads unless you're well equipped for desert travel- lots of water, maps, sat phone and spare tire kits.
As we travel along Cottonwood Creek road, along the Cockcombs, we come within a mile or two of Paria (as the crow flies). It was both a pioneering desert settler town, and later on, an area near it was a movie set for Hollywood. You can see it located on the map at the beginning of this page. (spelled Pahreah in this rendition even though it's in Paria Canyon)
Now we're out on the open road of Hwy 89, straight into Page AZ. The plan is to continue down the 89 towards the Grand Canyon South Rim turnoff. But now there's a problem. There was a big rockfall on the road through a rock cut at Antelope Pass, just south of Page, just before the 89 joins up with 89A. You can see it on the map at the top of this page.
We ended up taking dusty and washed out sandy backroads through the reservation, navigating by GPS in the hopes of connecting back to a main road. Luckily, after about 20 miles, in the middle of nowhere, what was on the GPS as dusty track, was now a full blown paved road. It turns out that the state paved a whole many-mile stretch of this to act officially as 89T until the road at the Pass is repaired- even the government website suggests it could be a long time.
We finally made it back onto the 89, and turned west towards the Grand Canyon South entrance. Along the way we stopped for gas and caught this wonderful backcountry rig at the station. It's from Switzerland- and well equipped for out-there travel, with a very heavy duty high-clearance 4 wheel drive. The tires are bulletproof.