After getting onto Smokey Mountain Road and heading south, we also found this more slow going than the "Class 2" rating that our 4WD Adventures: Utah book had lead us to expect. We had hoped to make it all the way to camp at the Kelly Grade, a gorgeous lookout and drop the plateau down into the Lake Powell valley. But we didn't make it quite that far. We drove until sunset, seeing few good pull-offs, and finally being satisfied with a lesser-used pull-off to camp for the night. Our main goal with boondock camping has been to not leave a mark in the desert by creating a new campsite. That night's campsite was pretty much at our limit — it had been used by others before but there were still many plants to avoid. Our other choice was to camp on the road, so we went for it, with Laura pointing out ever branch, shrub and tree for Geoff to avoid as we inched down the side road to camp.
We started early the next morning, and got to the Kelly Grade while the sun was still low in the sky. There were several spots along the road which were marked by burns. No, not other campers making fires on the road. Apparently, the coal deposits in the ground sometimes ignite, leaving these marks.
The lookout from the mesa was an incredible panoramic vista. We imagined what Lake Powell used to look like, before it was dammed, when it was a river at the bottom of a canyon. We could also see the land that was returning now that the lake water level has been receding.
As we left the area, Laura had fun maneuvering the van, trying out the bumps and learning the size of the vehicle. Next trip, she's up for doing all the driving!
We returned to Smokey Mountain Road, following it west to Highway 89 past some majestic rocks.
We wrapped up our exploration of Lake Powell with a stop at the Glen Canyon Dam. We had crossed the lake by ferry, driven around it, looked down over it, and were now seeing the dam that held the lake's water in place.
After almost two weeks of adventures in Utah, we set off, speeding northwest to our home in Seattle, WA.