|This map shows our route from Blanding clockwise around the loop.
Map from The Southwest Through Brown Eyes
We like to plan outings to out-of-the-way sites and spend a few days exploring the area. We’ve done this with Vernal, Delta, and Moab. After our trip to Moab over Spring Break, we decided we missed a lot of activities in the southeast corner of the state, so we planned a separate trip to Blanding this summer. We found a lot of great adventures that seem to be relatively unknown. Just click on any link to read more about each stop. I’ll start with our big day making “the loop” because it turned out to be a particularly well-planned day:
At 8:00 we stopped at the Blanding Visitor’s Center for information on some of the sites we’d be seeing. There is a small museum in the Visitor’s Center, and we got a lot of questions answered at this stop. Then we headed south to Bluff.
Fort Bluff got a nice new makeover and was a highlight of our trip to this area. We learned about the incredible Hole in the Wall descent of the pioneers and strolled through the dozen or so cabins in this rebuilt pioneer town. Plan to spend 2-3 hours in Fort Bluff. You won’t be disappointed!
To the west of Fort Bluff, we turned up a washboard road to the Valley of the Gods. This is a 17 mile loop that takes you past towering stone structures. It’s sort of like Monument Valley’s little brother.
At around 1pm we decided to double back toward Bluff and pick up lunch in Mexican Hat. (Don’t plan on Wendy’s or McDonald’s. The choices are limited.) The actual Mexican Hat is pretty cool, though. I’m a little surprised someone hasn’t climbed up there and tipped it off.
A short distance up the road is Goosenecks State Park. You have to stop here if you drive by. It’ll only take $2 and about 20 minutes, but it is amazing how the river isn’t smart enough to just go straight. I mean, come on . . .
After Goosenecks, we drove up the Moki Dugway. This is one of the most unique stretches of road in America. It is sort of like Hole in the Rock for cars. We wound and twisted our way up the cliff face on a narrow steep gravel road.
Right at the top of the dugway is Muley Point Road. It is about 4 miles out to the overlook, but they are a rough 4 miles. You arrive at a wide open vista that overlooks Monument Valley far to the south.
At around 3 pm we reached our final destination, Natural Bridges National Monument. There are four short hikes here, and we did 3 of the 4. We had dinner in the car and stayed late for the stargazing tour which started at 9:30. Then we headed back to Blanding. It was the perfect day!
Other great adventures that we did include:
Hovenweep National Monument is an amazing look into the past. Plan to spend half a day hiking and driving to 800 year old stone structures built in groups along the canyon walls.
The Dinosaur Museum in Blanding is a really cool stop. They have unique artifacts like 3 trees that are 250 million years old (and petrified) of which there are only 6 in the world and dinosaur skin imprints. My favorite section was the movie tributes, though. An entire wing is dedicated to campy dinosaur movies that were popular in the 50s and 60s.
If you’d like to go to an incredibly eccentric museum, try Huck’s Museum located in Blanding. Huck has collected an amazing amount of artifacts, and some might say he’s a bit of an artifact himself!
Plan a trip to Blanding. It’s out of the way, not too touristy, and there is plenty to do.