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--- Sept. 2015 Ride In and out of Cottonwood Canyon ---
I took this ride not too long after getting the Suzuki DR200 and before that hadn't been riding since the 70's. It taxed my riding skills some at the time.
About 10 miles south of Blanding I left highway 191 and started on a decent dirt road that took me over to the top of the canyon looking down at Cottonwood Creek at the bottom, which was dry in spots. From this point onward until I climbed up onto Black Mesa on the other side of Cottonwood Canyon there wasn't much of what you could call a road with portions of it no road at all.
You start off dropping 600 feet of elevation in a very short distance, some of which had considerable large rock where you needed to be on the pegs and where it was hard to stop if you needed without sliding the front end out from under you.
Once you were near the bottom the trail head north paralleling Cottonwood Creek and there were places where what was once a mining road probably was washed out. It would have been hard to get even a 4 wheel ATV past these places but the bike doesn't need as wide of a track. The trail passed what was left of a 1000 year old Anasazi ruin (shown above). There are much nicer ruins in the region and you will see some on other rides.
On the rock wall by the ruin there were also numerous ancient petroglyphs.
Who knows for sure what it means, but ...
. it can be fun coming up with your own interpretations.
The trail continued north and eventually dipped down and crossed the stream where there were steep sand banks on no remains of a trail until you were back up a little higher. I worried a little about the creek crossing as there is some quicksand in some of these streams.
I passed the butte above and then started the climb to Black Meas on the west side of Cottonwood Canyon.
The trail passed the large balanced rock above.
The final climb up to the mesa top was steep but what was left of a road over here was in a little better shape than what I had descended on the east side of the canyon. In this whole stretch I seen no traces of anyone recently making this trip with a motorcycle or ATV. A larger 4 wheel drive could not make this part of the ride.
Once up on Black Mesa I could see most of where I had ridden to this point.
Zooming in with the telephoto I could capture the place where the ruin and petroglyphs were located.
There was a great view to the south with mountains in Arizona on the skyline. Cottonwood Creek runs after the winter snows and then intermittently the rest of year. There is always water in some sections of it with very small fish in those sections. It meets up with the San Juan river about 12 miles south of where I crossed it.
The rim-rock at the mesa's edge provide some ...
.. nice scenery and views.
Once up on Black Mesa I encountered a number of dirt roads any of which you could do in a 4 wheel drive vehicle. The landscape changed and I was amazed to find the tall grass on the southwest end of the mesa.
The tall grass is non-typical of this area and reminded me some of parts of Montana.
I rode over to the southwest side of Black Mesa where I could see Monument Valley in the distance. The picture was taken with some telephoto enhancement as Monument Valley is probably 40+ miles from where the picture was taken.
Swinging the camera a little to the north ...
.. I could see Comb Ridge in the foreground and Cedar Mesa off to the west. There is a deep valley between Black Mesa and Comb Ridge so the picture above is somewhat misleading.
From here I retreated back north and could of gone north far enough to hit Highway 95 that heads west from Blanding to Lake Powell and points further west but before I got to 95 I headed back east on an improved gravel county road that took me right back to where I had left 191 at the beginning of the trip. From there it was back on the highway to the house.
I took some chances on this trip as at the bottom of Cottonwood Canyon you can be out of cellphone coverage and if I would of gotten hurt there it wouldn't of been good. I now take a Spot Satellite GPS locator with me on these rides. I also carry lots of water, food, first aid and extra clothing just in case.
This was a fun and beautiful ride and I need to go back and do it again now that I have more time on the bike. Would you like to join me?
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