Utah 2023: It’s a Wash

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Day 15 (Friday, October 20, 2023)

How has it been 2 weeks already!? Well, the good news is, that the vacation isn’t over yet. But it is time to pack up and leave Goblin Valley, and after a pit stop in Green River, UT (Hello I-70!) to get the truck & trailer washed and groceries restocked, we are heading back out into the wilderness, to explore the northern part of the San Rafael Swell (north of I-70).

While the destination (Wedge Overlook) is in the middle of nowhere, the Utah DOT (or BLM) has actually put “improved roads” through the various wilderness areas north of the freeway, so we’re not stuck dragging the Airstream dozens of miles through “off-road conditions” as we crisscross through the San Rafael Swell area, but only over graded gravel roads.

A beautiful drive through the Mexican Mountain Wilderness Study Area takes us to the San Rafael River, where we stop to walk across the Swinging Bridge (glad to find out that there is actually an improved bridge right next to it, over which vehicles cross!) … from there, we pass by the Buckhorn Wash Pictograph panels, before shorty thereafter spotting a few open campsites (hard to come by on a beautiful fall Friday afternoon – we’re not the only ones out and about, and camp sites are very limited out here!).

After scoping out the feasibility of the steep and sandy approach to site #21, Kirk gives it a try – and gets the truck & trailer up the hill and settles in the site. But unfortunately, not without ripping a nice gauge into one of the trailer tires from a major rock that was in the path uphill. Guess we’ll be visiting a tire shop next week once we leave the wilderness! Until then, our eyes will be kept on the tire pressure monitor…

Day 16 (Saturday, October 21, 2023)

Today is all about exploring the San Rafael Swell area we’re in, so after sleeping in, we hop in the truck an go exploring the wilderness. Sights along our drive include the Buckhorn Wash Pictographs, checking out various spots along the Little Grand Canyon Overlook, a drive to the Wedge Overlook, before stopping at the Buckhorn Dino Track on our way back to camp. The Tacoma is loving it (and so is Kirk)!

After getting all shook up, we spend the rest of the day with what we’re here for, too: relaxing!

Day 17 (Sunday, October 22, 2023)

We really do not want to leave here … but knowing that we’ll need to get new tires ASAP and tire shops are open first thing Monday morning, we want to get to civilization (aka a town that has well-stocked tire shops) by Sunday night to get this taken care of!

So after a very lazy start into the day, slowly packing up our campsite, we finally make our way out of the San Rafael Swell Recreation Area via the north-west exit towards Huntington, UT and from there cruise south to I-70 and then west all the way to Richfield, UT.

Here we check in at the Venture RV Park (brand new, 100% geared towards OHV campers) to tackle the tasks at hand in the morning.

Day 18 (Monday, October 23, 2023)

Tire shops open at 8am and it’s not much after that when we roll in at the local Big O – only to find out that they have one (1!) trailer tire on hand. Well, that won’t work, so off we go to Les Schwab down the street – and get lucky here. About 45 minutes later, the Bambi has a set of brand new tires to roll on, and we can get the trip continuation going!

We’re heading west today – and after a few hours leave Utah behind, entering Nevada – and the tiny town of Baker, NV. A left turn here leads to the Great Basin National Park. One of the most remote National Parks in the Continental United States, there is almost no one else here besides us. Being here at the end of the season, visitors have mostly blown out and we have our pick from almost all the sites in the park’s Baker Creek Campground (FCFS) – and set up in site #26, which provides great privacy and sun exposure (critical when it’s as chilly/cold as it is here – at 7,500 ft elevation!).

With the trailer detached, we’re taking the truck to explore the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, gaining anther 3K ft in elevation to the peak (parking lot) at just about 10K ft above sea level. It’s too cold and getting dark too soon to go on any of the hikes today, so we’ll have to come back to the park another trip!

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