July 24, 25 - Southeast Utah

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On Tuesday, I left Moab, and drove south to Newspaper Rock (lots of petroglyphs), and then through the Manti-Lasal National Forest — a very different climate than what I'd been experiencing for the past few weeks!

Manti-Lasal National Forest - aspen lined road (7/24 1:47 PM)Manti-Lasal National Forest - green cow pastures (7/24 2:03 PM)

That evening, I camped in Comb Ridge See in Google Maps See on a USGS topographic map See in Google Earth 37.42802, -109.6216 , across the valley from some cliff dwellings I would explore the next day.

The second photo shows an example of cryptobiotic soil, spongy desert soil which apparently takes many years to regrow if crushed by foot or tire. Therefore, I was very careful to stay on slickrock patches when walking off-road/trail (and to not drive off-trail).

camping on slickrock (7/24 7:14 PM)cryptobiotic soil (7/24 7:38 PM)

The next morning, I crossed the river and hiked up to the ruins.

The banks of the river itself were covered with ancient potsherds, that were slowly getting eroded away and washed into the river. It was difficult to walk without stepping on them. A mile west up into the hill were the cliff dwellings. Apparently no attempt has been made yet to restore or excavate these structures, but other visitors have made piles of items they've found — pottery, tools, and mini-corn husks.

millions of potsherds on the river bank (7/24 6:33 PM)cliff dwelling ruins (7/25 8:20 AM)piled items from the cliff dwellings (7/25 8:32 AM)pattern painted on wall (7/25 8:33 AM)wall with window (7/25 8:40 AM)

Exiting Comb Ridge to the south, I took Utah 163 west to Valley of the Gods See in Google Maps See on a USGS topographic map See in Google Earth 37.25831, -109.8671 , a tour of giant red rock formations, and then down to the Goosenecks of the San Juan River. See in Google Maps See on a USGS topographic map See in Google Earth 37.17435, -109.9273 

Valley of the Gods (7/25 11:06 AM)Goosenecks of the San Juan River (7/25 12:08 PM)

Heading west, I soon reached the Moki Dugway, where the paved road turns to gravel and climbs 1000 ft up the hillside See in Google Maps See on a USGS topographic map See in Google Earth 37.27651, -109.9384 , and traveled north to Natural Bridges National Monument.

Moki Dugway (7/25 12:39 PM)Natural Bridges National Monument (7/25 1:57 PM)