On Thursday morning, we left Estes Park and drove along the Trail Ridge Road planning to travel 166 miles that day. (See the previous blog post to see the photos.) Six and a half hours later, we made it to our destination of Hayden, Colorado. That is an average of 25.5 miles per hour. And, folks, that is just how scenic the area is. For a change of pace, I booked us a room at the Hiway 40 Bar & Grill…they had 3 apartments they rented out. The town of Hayden had 1400 residents (I asked) and amazing burgers (I ate) and micro-brew beer (I drank).
The next morning, we left to continue our drive down the Colorado River Scenic Byway (ie. Highway 40). Incredible views of red rocks and roaring rivers. I loved this off-interstate experience. It took us through some of the most amazing martian-looking areas. I truly expected to see the Mars rover collecting samples off the side of the road. (Conspiracy theories haven’t hit on this theme yet. Give them time. “We never went to Mars. It was Utah!”)
We came to Jensen, Utah that afternoon and discovered the Dinosaur Welcome Center. The area is a hotbed of paleontological activity. Bones amongst the stones. We drove a few miles further into a cute little town named Vernal and decided there was enough to see in the area to warrant a two-night stay. We went to the Dinosaur Center just outside of Vernal and saw an amazing preserved dig with thousands of bones.
The next day, we drove north to Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. This was a 80 mile round-trip drive through some pretty spectacular landscapes. They have a very helpful visitor’s center located right beside the damn.
We also took a side trip crossing into Wyoming (three times, actually, due to pilot error and I still blame the GPS for those detours.) One of the side trips took us into the Butch Cassidy hideout area. And I completely understand why he was never found there… part of the trek was made on dirt roads! But completely unspoiled scenery…rocks, bluffs and canyons.
This whole leg of the trip was completely unplanned and a surprise to us both. Gorgeous, gorgeous Utah!
The next leg of the trip goes around Salt Lake City, through Idaho and into the northeast corner of Oregon and the southwest corner of Washington state known as the Palouse region. Heads up! You are really going to want to see the photos from here. One of the most beautiful areas of our beautiful county.
Thanks for coming on this trip with me.