Interlude in Bluff, Utah

After the July 20, 2012 visit to Mesa Verde and a surprising, nice find of the Dolores Brewery, Dolores, Colorado, we crossed the Colorado-Utah state line and traveled to the small town of Bluff, Utah.  From here until the end of our ten-day trip across the Colorado Plateau, we would not see a four-lane road.

Orange Sunset Across the Desert in Far Southeast Utah, Photo by Karl Thiessen

This is remote country.  Our destination this evening, Bluff, is about the largest town in the far southeastern part of Utah.  Bluff has about 200 residents.

Joanne, my wife, drove this part of the trip, and actually began to get nervous at how apparently far we were “off the grid.”  We crossed part of the Ute Indian Reservation and crossed over into Utah.  We were driving after the sun went down.  The winding two-lane road crossed small mesas and went down into arroyos (shallow gulches with dry riverbeds) with cut banks taller than grown men.  Everything except the road itself became mostly red dirt.  Joanne was beginning to doubt my claim there was a nice river town called Bluff “just ahead.”

It did not help that we almost ran into a cow.  Yes, a cow—in the middle of the desert.  You see, this country is all open range, meaning there are no (or very few) fences.  Cattle just roam wherever they want, including on the road.  In the late civil twilight, approaching a cow that meanders halfway onto the road at 55 mph can freak you out.  There are “cow signs”, similar to deer crossing signs common in the East, at periodic intervals on the road.  These are not that great of help in avoiding a particular cow however.

We arrived safely though in Bluff, and stopped at the Desert Rose Inn, a nice motel.  Having dropped in elevation from Durango and Mesa Verde, it was definitely warmer in Bluff.  You could still feel the heat at 9:30 PM, about 80F.

Waking the next morning, I took some photos of the desert country.

Desert Dawn: Early Morning Sun Lights Clouds in Cornflower Blue Sky, Bluff, Utah

The quiet in the morning here was wonderful.  I almost thought I could hear the bunny rabbit that greeted me in the morning behind the motel when I was taking pictures.

Cliffs at Bluff, Utah, Reflect Morning Sunlight July 21, 2012

This was just a short interlude before our next adventure, an all-day rafting trip on the San Juan River.

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