Goosenecks State Park and Valley of the Gods, UT

I spent a single gusty, dusty night in Goosnecks State Park. My tent shook all night long like it was Tina Turner’s fringed skirt. I woke up through the night with dust in my eyes,  sand crunching between my teeth, a gritty sheen of Utah shellacked on my skin. But, man, was it pretty!

A meander of the San Juan River - so romantic!
A meander of the San Juan River – so romantic!

Goosenecks is surrounded by some amazing stuff. Just to the south: Monument Valley, to the north: Valley of the Gods and just a bit more to the north: the Moki Dugway and Natural Bridges National Monument. That’s only naming a few. There is no much more…

I got into Goosenecks in the early morning, snagged a camp spot, rambled down to a lower terrace, took a few dozen snap shots then ran off to Valley of the Gods. A good chunk of the day was spent motoring through the valley, hoping I wouldn’t drown Lady Bird in the deep, red, powdery sand. She did good – just like a Subaru always does.

For long stretches of time I would not see a soul. It is simultaneously thrilling and chilling to be alone in a space that big. There was very little trouble I could get into out there, but the prickling and thorny thought of my alone-ness was always snagging my awareness. The phrase, “No one would know…” kept rolling through my subconscious. I put the blame for that useless paranoia squarely on scary movies watched at an impressionable age. Mother Nature: The big, the bad and the indifferent.

I had the Valley of the Gods all to myself for hours.
I had the Valley of the Gods all to myself for hours.

From there I went north up the Moki Dugway to Natural Bridges with a quick stop into the Kane Gulch Ranger Station along the way. At the ranger station I ran into some fellow Seattleites who were volunteering there for the summer. (Seed planted for future thought.) I was asked by every person I encountered the rest of the day if I had driven the Moki Dugway. By the way, the natural response to that question for someone not from the area is, “Huh?” Moki Dugway…I kept thinking I had some desert deafness going on. I could not get a handle on what they were saying.

Valley of the Gods from the Moki Dugway
Valley of the Gods from the Moki Dugway

After all that exploration, I returned to my campsite at the Goosenecks. Here is where the winds kick up. Here’s where my tent does it’s Tina Turner impression all night long. After all that commotions, the morning brought a warm and welcome stillness. I had a chance to shake out the dust – literally – before packing up.

I passed through the town of Mexican Hat on the way back to Colorado. Stopped in Bluff, UT to fuel up and spent about 45 minutes convinced I had lost my wallet in the desert. After that minor coronary, I was on my way to the next big park. The Great Sand Dunes.

I see why they call it Mexican Hat.
I see why they call it Mexican Hat.
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