Utah Backcountry – Cottonwood Canyon Street • PhotoTraces

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We began our exploration of Utah’s backcountry with low-hanging fruit—the Cottonwood Canyon Street. This unpaved highway connects US 89 on the south finish with Utah’s Scene Byway 12 on the north finish. The highway runs previous Kodachrome State Park the place we camped, which is why it made sense to begin our journey with Cottonwood Canyon Street.

The Grand Staircase-Escalante Nationwide Monument is an unlimited, mountainous space in Southern Utah with US 89 operating alongside the border of the nationwide monument and US 12 operating alongside the northern border. If that you must get from Lake Powel to the Escalante space, for instance, it’s important to take a large 300-mile detour and drive across the whole Grand Staircase-Escalante Nationwide Monument. Cottonwood Canyon Street is a 46-mile shortcut that runs by the mountains.

Utah Backcountry - Cottonwood Canyon Road 1

The highway is in comparatively good situation and I don’t consider {that a} 4×4 automotive is completely mandatory. In some areas, although, the highway is fairly steep and tough. And, like with most dust roads in Utah, it turns into impassable in rain.

It’s a good apply to all the time cease by any Bureau of Land Administration Workplace to search out out if the highway is open and inquire about its situations. The workplace can present important info like if a flash flood brought about a landslide within the space.

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Probably the most scenic a part of the drive

We drove Cottonwood Canyon Street twice—as soon as from north to south after which from south to north. I didn’t see any benefit of driving a method over one other.

Associated: Gude to Bryce Canion Nationwide Park

The northern a part of the highway is extra mountainous and scenic. Whenever you strategy the final leg of the drive when driving from south to north, there’s a spot on prime of the mountain crossing the place you possibly can cease and revel in an unobstructed view of Bryce Canyon on the left facet and the Kodachrome Basin on the precise. It’s merely breathtaking.

Utah Backcountry - Cottonwood Canyon Road 3
You may see the Bryce Canyon within the Background
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The southern a part of the drive is flatter with nearly no vegetation. All you see are badlands and desert. It is extremely totally different, however it’s nonetheless spectacular in its personal means.

Associated: Valley of the Gods Grime Street Drive

It was the second half of September, which remains to be a busy vacationer season in Utah. However I used to be stunned by how few vehicles we encountered alongside our drive—5 to 6 at most for each drives mixed.  

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Utah Backcountry - Cottonwood Canyon Road 6
In some locations the Cottonwood Canyon Street may be tough

Grosvenor Arch

For those who wouldn’t have time to discover totally different areas alongside Cottonwood Canyon Street, the one cease you will need to make is on the Grosvenor Arch. It’s positioned just one km from the principle highway and is accessible by automotive.

Associated: Exploring Monument Valley Scenic Drive

The Grosvenor Arch is essentially the most spectacular rock formation alongside the drive with two pure arches crowning the highest of the tall ridge.

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Grosvenor Arch
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Grosvenor Arch

Cottonwood Wash Narrows

When you have a few hours to spare, take a simple three-mile hike alongside the underside of the slim canyon. Like I mentioned, it’s a simple, uncomplicated hike with its solely problem being the doorway on the south finish. The doorway is roofed in big rocks from a landslide, however the climbing is simple.

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Mountain climbing the Cottonwood Wash Narrows

Ultimate Phrases

All in all, Cottonwood Canyon Street is the best strategy to begin exploring Utah’s backcountry. It’s the excellent drive for sightseeing and pictures, however it additionally serves as a shortcut to Bryce Canyon Nationwide Park and Home Rock Street in Escalante.

2019 Replace – Misadventure on Cottonwood Street

In August 2019, we went on one other driving journey to Utah. We spent two weeks driving a Jeep Wrangler alongside Utah’s backcountry roads to succeed in essentially the most distant and secluded areas of the southwest. 

Exploring Cottonwood Canyon Street was not in our plans, however we used it typically as a shortcut to get from the Vermilion Cliffs and Lake Powell to the Escalante space. 

Sooner or later, after spending three days driving the final word off-road vacation spot to the White Rim Path in Canyonlands Nationwide Park, we had been lastly on our strategy to Kodachrome. On the finish of the 500km drive, we had been desirous to get to the campground earlier than dusk, so we took the Cottonwood Canyon highway shortcut. 

August in Utah is monsoon season. You get sudden, brief, and extreme rainfall nearly each day. Simply earlier than finishing the Cottonwood dust highway part of the drive, we bumped into rain. The clay highway instantly turned impassible and we nearly crashed the Jeep as we drove down the steep hill. 

Associated: Organizing New Zealand South Island Picture Journey

I utterly misplaced management of the SUV and anticipated an unavoidable crash. However on the final second, the Jeep straightened itself. I assume the traction management kicked in since we slid slowly to the underside of the hill. 

Right here is how the Jeep seemed. A layer of moist clay lined all of the tires, which left the tires with zero traction. I understood firsthand why clay roads in Utah turn out to be impassable when moist. It doesn’t matter what automobile you drive or in case you have chains or spikes. 

Utah Backcountry - Cottonwood Canyon Road 10
We clay on the Cottonwood Canyon Street

We couldn’t drive in any respect. The one choice we had was to arrange camp on the facet of the highway and wait till the highway dried up. 

Fortunately, we had all our tenting gear, meals, and water with us. 

The next morning, the highway was nonetheless moist and sticky. Driving was not an choice, so we spent all the day mountaineering and accomplished the Cottonwood Wash Narrows hike once more. It wasn’t till the early night when the day’s warmth dried up the clay that we may full the final 10km of dust highway. 

Now I do know that clay and water don’t go properly collectively relating to driving. 

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