Hole in the Rock (3-days, Sun-Mon-Tues)
Our use of this famous and historic Mormon Trail starts about 150 miles from Moab and includes two nights of camping (in the same campsite). The off-highway portion begins and ends near Halls Crossing on Utah Highway 276 and travels to within a couple of miles of the pioneer crossing of the Colorado River (now Lake Powell). A large group of Mormon settlers in wagons used some of this route on a journey from Escalante to Bluff, a trip they expected to take six weeks but actually took six months. It is an amazing expanse of open country.
The nearby country is a sea of weathered Navajo Sandstone. If any southern Utah scenes inspire awe, the overview of the Great Bend of the San Juan River has to be on the list. Navajo Mountain is in constant view throughout the distant part of the trail.
Just imagining a group of settlers with horses and wagons trying to cross this terrain is a highlight.
Most of the route is on sandstone, either in its slickrock form or its weathered and wind-blown sand grains.
The approach to, and ascent of, Grey Mesa is challenging. The slickrock channel called the Chute and the canyons beyond are the most difficult parts. A book written about the Mormon expedition is helpful to have read before the trip, and brought along for reference; it adds the historic highlight to the trip.
Because of the trail’s remoteness, a fuel fill is recommended. The off-highway drive is only about 60 miles round trip but the start is about 75 miles from Blanding and 12 miles short of Halls Crossing. The meeting place is optional. Moab departures will be from Nations Towing at 8:00 a.m. on the first day of each trip.
A secondary departure rendezvous about noon at the Calvin Black airport is recommended for those who are coming from the south or who have trouble maintaining a good highway speed. Remember, the country is remote, dry, and unforgiving.