Part 32: Echo Park, UT to Craig, CO


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The Trip

We spent the night in Echo Park; it was quiet and the wind was calm.  Next morning we got a late start and decided to head out the "long way" (about 40 miles of dirt) toward Elk Springs, CO and then east to Craig, CO.  Echo Park is just downstream of the confluence of the Green and Yampa rivers.

The photos below are what we saw.

I was sitting outside at the picknic table and this nice buck came wandering through camp without a care in the world.  He headed down to the river for a drink.

Echo Park is actually quite big.  The walls of the cliff are rugged and steep.

On the river bank we saw some of the rafters that frequent the Green River.  Across the river was a large rock monument.

More rafters were coming to the beach at Echo Park.

To the northwest the Green River turned north leaving a huge cliff at the bend.

Many of the rafting outfitters cater to families with small children.

The high clounds were actually a good thing as it prevented it from getting too hot.  The water temperature in the Green River was cool, so the lack of sunshine was causing a number of the rafters to complan about being cold.

The riverside vegetation was lush and attracted plenty of game like the deer shown in an earlier photo.

We left Echo Park and alongside the trail was a pull-out with a sign that said "petroglyphs".  We hiked to the stream area and found nothing obvious until we checked the sign.  The petroglyphs were about 35 feet above the ground way out of normal view.  The claim was that the streambed had eroded over time leaving the petroglyphs "high and dry".  At eye-level was this odd pattern in the sandstone wall.

The petroglyphs were high enough on the cliff wall that they were nearly invisible to the naked eye.  These figures were of the "pecked and carved" variety.

This is either a stone art representation of a bug or an extraterrestrial being.

This petroglyph had suffered quite a bit of weathering.  There was no age estimate of the petroglyph given, but the general opinion was that they were created by the Fremont Culture dating from AD 700-1300.

Bugs seemed to be a common theme in these petroglyphs which is quite different from other rock art that we have seen in the west which were primarly large mammals and shamanistic glyphs.

The petroglyphs were behind the trees on the left of the photo above.  The narrow canyon provided a path for both a small stream and our trail.

Instead of retracing our path to Echo Park, we elected to take the long way out to the east.  Our path took us below the rugged cliffs of the Yampa Bench.

Our initial path to Echo Park went through the narrow slot in the cliff wall.

Our first overlook opportunity was called Castle Park.  It was a very nice view of the canyon created by the Yampa River.

As we traveled east on the trail, we encountered a fork in the road.  The GPS suggested that the right fork would take us to another overlook.  Instead, the narrow trail went down into the canyon bottom and ended in a locked gate.  This appeared to be private property.  Note the high canyon walls.

We decided to fix something to eat.  While we were stopped the rancher that owned the property on the other side of the gate came by.  We chatted for awhile.  It seems that he owns 160 acres of bottomland on the Yampa river.  He is fully "off the grid" and has about 3 hours of dirt road travel to get to US-40 and another hour of road travel to hit a city of any size for supplies.  He also stated that he can make a satellite phone call "sometimes" but other than that, no communication at all.  He took some photos of Thor unlocked the gate and went on.  We finished eating, turned around and continued on.

We continued east to a place called "Harding Hole Overlook".  From the overlook, the view was astounding.  The Yampa had carved a wide canyon with its oxbows and at each turn of the oxbow there was a huge vertical cliff.  There are 5 oxbows in the photo above, see if you can identify each of them.

Looking to the east from the overview the cliffs from the oxbows are just as pronounced.

Looking due north from the overlook the lens of the camera, even at 28mm, could not fully reveal the scope of the view.

Someone, likely the rancher that we met earlier, was running cattle in the bottom land of the Yampa valley.  No need for fence here; those cattle, unless they can fly, are not going anywhere except the river bottom.

We proceeded down the rough road to Wagon Wheel Point overlook.  The view was great but not as impressive as Harding Hole.

Looking to the east from Wagon Wheel point the scope of the canyon is visible.

Traveling further east on the Yampa Bench, we could see the uplifted mesas to the north.  The open area was recently burned resulting in grasslands.

The trail went over a high, steep ridge and this burned tree is testament to the recent fire.

From the crest of the ridge we got a parting view of the Yampa River gorge before descending the south side toward US-40 many miles away.

We traveled many more miles of dirt before we intersected US-40.  We traveled east on the blacktop to Craig, CO for dinner and a supply stop.  Then we proceeded east to the Yampa River State Park for the night.

Backcountry Dinosaur National Monument was awesome.  There is plenty of dirt roads and they are generally in good shape.  Echo Park was a great camp and the "long way out" was definitely worth the extra effort.  There were several areas that we did not visit and we will put them on our hit list for next time.  We will surely come here again.

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