Monument Valley to Salt Lake City

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

May 21 ~ Day # 11
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average

Current Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Today’s Mileage: 422 Total: 3478

Today’s Total Expenses: $142.84

Transportation: $68.68
Accommodation: $54.08
Food: $20.08

Last night was a much more pleasant sleep as it didn’t get nearly as cold here as it did at the Grand Canyon.

Again, Geoff has breaking camp pretty much down to a science now. I help pack up, too, but he really does the bulk of getting the tent packed away.

After a quick breakfast and the essential cup of coffee we were off to view the amazing monoliths of Monument Valley. Geoff has taken lots of photos and video that he will, no doubt, be posting soon.

As we heeded north on highway 163, I checked out a regular, paper map to see if there was a scenic route we could take to Salt Lake City. It seems that Madge (our Magellan GPS) doesn’t have an option for “scenic route”.

As I continue, keep in the that it was ME that chose this route – you’ll understand later.

Gravel Roads and Switchbacks and Cliffs – Oh My!

From 163 we turned onto 261 which was marked on our paper map as a scenic route. It certainly was that. However, it was also a very steep route with a lot of switchbacks and sheer drops from cliffs well above the desert floor. Yes, you guessed it, sweaty palms and elevated heart rate again. I am soooo grateful that Geoff was driving. I would have simply been paralyzed. I would have made it, certainly, if I was the only one available to drive, but I would most likely have done it at 5 miles per hour.

I took some video from the car as Geoff drove. I think I may have had my eyes closed at some points, but hopefully the camera got everything.

If you are traveling with a trailer or in an RV DO NOT take this route. And that’s just not from me. There are signs along the route, before you get to the switchbacks telling you not to do that. Some larger vehicles just wouldn’t be able to make it around some of the switchback turns and the road gets quite narrow in several places.

It was no wonder that when we turned on the road, Madge (our Magellan GPS) kept saying, “As soon as possible, make a Legal U-turn.” Apparently she knew something we didn’t.

But we made it and I’m glad we went that way. It was quite an experience. We have video of parts of the road and of how high we actually were as well, so watch for the posts.

As we continued along the scenic route we saw such places as Glen Canyon and Dirty Devil River to name just a couple. The drive through the canyons was just so spectacular with many different kinds of rock formations and colors. Is it possible to get an overload of beautiful, incredible, awe-inspiring scenery? I don’t know, but if it can happen it would happen here. Every turn brought more oohs and aahs from both of us. One or the other was saying, “Wow! look at this.” or “Oh, my, that is so beautiful.” or even, “Pull over here so we can get a better look.”

We stopped for lunch along the Dirty Devil River. The Utah government has provided washroom facilities in various places as well as honor-system camping in this spots. The rate is pretty cheap – $6.00/night/person or $3.00/night/person for seniors, with a maximum charge per vehicle of $12.00 or $6.00 respectively. Not bad.

Again, it is difficult to describe the beauty of this route so my suggestion again is, go if you can and take the scenic route.

As we approached Salt Lake City the weather turned nasty and I swear I saw snow in the air even though the temperature gauge in the car was telling us it was still in the 60s.

Fortunately, we had planned to stay at a hotel anyway because this was not the kind of weather that either of us wanted to camp in. Even setting up the tent in such conditions would have been miserable and we would have most likely had to pack it up wet – not a good idea.

We picked up some highway hotel coupons along the way and I started searching for a good place to stay. One of the advertised accommodations was Sky Harbor Suites which seemed really reasonable at only $48/night and that included a suite with a full kitchen. I called ahead and mentioned the coupon. They told me that the rate on the coupon was a “walk-in” rate, meaning we couldn’t prebook it. But, they said they did have some available and we were only about a half hour away, so we took the chance and headed for them.

Sky Harbor Suites was a lovely place and very reminiscent of a timeshare resort. We were able to get the coupon rate of $48/night. Their regular rate is $79/night, so it was a really good deal.

The suite was small but lovely, with a queen size bed and a full kitchen as advertised. After checking in we headed to a local grocery store so we could take advantage of having a full kitchen available to us. We had a lovely dinner of boneless pork chops, baked potatoes and sauteed zucchini along with a glass of red wine. Who could ask for more?

As we watched a little TV and let supper digest we looked forward to a good night’s sleep protected from the cold rainy weather outside.

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