My Summer Travels Finally Begin On Utah 191 to 95

The drive along 191 just south of Moab.

The drive along 191 just south of Moab looking north at the Manti La-Sal Mountains.

All winter I keep my possible summer travels in the back of my mind and I’m formulating possible routes for it. The closer it gets the firmer the plans become until eventually I have a pretty good idea of when and where I’m going. Finally I post a blog with a  proposed schedule of my travels so you all can join for some or part of the trip. This year went a little different than usual.

Because I receive royalties from Amazon for my Kindle book, I have to file a business return every year and pay self-employment taxes. When I was doing my taxes in April I realized that if I wrote a guide book about driving to Alaska, the cost of that trip could be a tax deduction. That was an idea that I really liked and a light-bulb went off in my head and I realized I could write a series of guide books and my every years travels could be a tax deduction–I liked the idea of paying less taxes!! This first one will be called “The Nomad’s Dirt Cheap Guide to  the Best Drives in the Rocky Mountain States.”

Another shot along 191.

Another shot along 191.

A lake along 191.

Utah has a huge variety of terrain. This alpine lake is just a few miles south from where I took the above shots on 191.

The result is that my plans slightly changed for this summer. Instead of going up the Rockies and over to Washington I’m going to spend all my time in the Rocky Mountain states of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. My goal is to drive as many mountain passes as I can and write a guide book rating and comparing them. Right now there are no guide books that offer the total package I’m planning on offering:

  1. The most unique thing it will have is to try to objectively rate the drives and say that, “If you only have two weeks, drive these roads and not those roads. If you have more time, include these roads but not those.”  There are lots of books describing the drives, but there are none that risks subjectively comparing them.
  2. Another thing I want to include  is a listing of  free dispersed campsites along the drives so the readers can travel as cheaply as they possibly can.
  3. Finally, this book will cover all the Rocky Mountain states in one book. All the others you have to buy one state at a time.

Future guide books will cover dirt cheap travel to the Grand Circle (the 5 National Parks in southern Utah plus a few more) the Pacific Coast and Northwest,  and the trip to Alaska. I’m hoping the comparative ratings and dispersed camp sites will set it apart from the other guides that are out there.

Much of Utah is on the Colorado Plateau which is a a giant area of uplift. As a result there are large breaks in the earth known an anticlines all across the state. This is one you cross on 95 about 20 miles from where you leave 191.

Much of Utah is on the Colorado Plateau which is a a giant area of uplift. As a result there are large breaks in the earth known as anticlines all across the state. This is the one you cross on 95 about 20 miles from where you leave 191.

The anticline is steep on one side and a sheer drop off on the other. The only through it is to blast a canyon through it. This V notch was blasted out to make a way through the anticline.

The anticline is steep on one side and a sheer drop off on the other. The only way to put a road over it is to blast a canyon through it. This V notch was blasted out to make a way through the anticline.

This summer I’ll explore the Rocky Mountains, this winter the Grand Circle and next summer the Pacific Coast. That’s going to be a lot of driving and a lot of work so I need to make the most of my time as I possibly can.  When I left Moab I knew many mountain passes up north would still be snowed in, so to give them time to thaw I decided to explore the northern route of the Grand Circle and start taking notes on that area. It gets cold in the winter so doing it now may be the best chance I get. I’ve driven all of it multiple times, but it’s been at least 5 years so essentially I’m starting all over again. This is the route I started off with:

  • From Moab south on 191 to Blanding, UT.
  • From Blanding west on 95 Hanksville.
  • From Hanksville west on 24 to Capital Reef NP.
  • From Capital Reef NP south and west on 12 to Bryce Canon NP.
As you drive along 95 you come to the Natural Bridges National Monument which I didn't stop at. Very close to it  is the White Canyon which is a gorgeous drive for about 29 miles.

As you drive along 95 you come to the Natural Bridges National Monument which I didn’t stop at. Very close to it is the White Canyon which is a gorgeous drive for about 20 miles.

I’ve got to tell you that this is one of the most stunning drives in the entire USA. If you doubt that, just consider that you see four National Parks, two National Monuments, a National Recreation Area and drive through several high passes in National Forests. As hard to believe as it is, much of the “normal” part of the drive is every bit as beautiful as those nationally recognized areas.

Soon after White Canyon you drop down to the Colorado River which is exceptionally beautiful. inside the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area which includes Lake Powell. As you climb out from the Colroado River you come to the Hite Overlook where these photos were taken of the River.

Soon after White Canyon you drop down to the Colorado River which is exceptionally beautiful. Once there you are inside the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area which includes Lake Powell. As you climb out from the Colroado River you come to the Hite Overlook where these photos were taken of the River. This photo is looking north.

Cody and I looking south from the Colorado River. There is another river coming in from the left and that is the North Wash River. 95 follows it through a beautiful red rock canyon up to Hanksville.

Cody and I looking south from the Hite Overlook at the Colorado River. There is another river coming in from the left and that is the North Wash River. 95 follows it through a beautiful red rock canyon up to Hanksville.

In this post I’ll include photos from the first part of the trip and include others legs of the trip in later posts. As always I’m concerned that there will be too many travel posts so I will throw in more practical, inspirational and educational posts as we go along.

I also want to encourage you to write me with your favorite Rocky Mountain drives. It would be most helpful if you rated it on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “Don’t bother” and 10 being “Must See!!” Also, if you have dispersed camp there, please give me directions to where and when.

Here we're leaving the Hite Overlook and heading into the canyon.

Here we’re leaving the Hite Overlook and heading into the canyon toward Hanksville. The river is down on our left.

GC-van-canyon-001

We found a beautiful campsite right on 95 very close to the North Wash River.

We found a beautiful campsite right on 95 very close to the North Wash River.

Our camp on 95.

Our camp on 95 at sunset.

We were camped at a trailhead that we walked back on and it was an amazing walk! Here is Cody looking down at the trail.

We were camped at a trailhead  and we walked back on the trail; it was an amazing walk! Here is Cody looking down at the trail.

Glowing red rock on 95.

Glowing red rock on 95.

Everywhere we went we saw gorgeous cactus in bloom.

Everywhere we went we saw gorgeous cactus in bloom because of the unusually wet spring weather.

More beautiful cactus.

More beautiful cactus.

Bob
About

I’ve been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

48 comments on “My Summer Travels Finally Begin On Utah 191 to 95
  1. Hunter says:

    Dear Bob,
    I moved from Indonesia to UAE and must report that your site has remained a constant interest. Your photographs have improved from really good to awesome. Keep up the good work. Let’s pay all the taxes we owe and not a penny more.
    Blessings
    Hunter

  2. Calvin R says:

    I particularly liked the picture of the glowing red rocks. If your books include pictures like these, they ought to sell well, especially when people realize you’re not just selling campgrounds and attractions.

    Will you be traveling Nevada for a book any time soon? Utah has a great deal of natural beauty, but I will be avoiding much of it for other reasons. If RVSue’s blog is any indication, much of Nevada consists of largely unknown beautiful places.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Calvin, the Kindle is not good with photos and color photos are very expensive to self-publish on-demand. If I remember, adding 20 colors pictures raised the price $2 per book. So color pictures are debatable.

      Nevada is kind of no-mans land, I rarely travel there myself. It’s unlikely to get a book.
      Bob

      • Calvin R says:

        I see your point about the color pictures. It’s a balancing act, and you will find your own way.

        That seems to be one of the nice things about Nevada: low population.
        Calvin R recently posted…About WalkingMy Profile

  3. Karen says:

    I agree with both Hunter and Calvin – beautiful photographs and you should include them in your books! Also the books are a great idea.

    Picking passes, however, will be difficult. I haven’t found any scenic drive through Rocky Mountain passes that I would rate less than a 10. :-)Love them all!

    Please feel free to use any of the boondocking spots that I have on my boondocking map – https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zWUSQ5x4Gi9s.kBKwuXReQ0l8&msa=0 If you need more information about any of them send me an email or PM.
    Karen recently posted…Mima Falls CampgroundMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thanks Karen, I had actually given some thought to doing just that–adding some of your spots! Maybe I’m too picky, there are quite a few I give a thumbs down to in comparison to others.
      Bob

  4. JJ says:

    Bob, wanted to say that your site has been a real inspiration. I look forward to each Blog, makes me feel like I’m taking the road trip myself 🙂

  5. As someone that will be retiring within the next year, this is a real interesting site. I already have a plan to RV it for a while, although not full time.
    No Nonsense Landlord recently posted…Simple Appliance Repairs for Landlords (or Homeowners)My Profile

  6. Omar Storm says:

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for another GREAT post!! I’m in line now waiting to purchase your upcoming travel guides.

    Safe travels,
    Omar

  7. Openspaceman says:

    Bob_

    I so look forward to every new post. My biggest challenge will be where to go first once I get on the road. I like this particular journey your on this summer as it isn’t as expensive as Alaska for my first summer on the road “next summer”. Keep up the good work!

  8. Jool says:

    Bob, I’m in line for all of your books. They will be just what I’m looking for!
    Also, do you have a post that shows your own van conversion? I searched but didn’t find it… I figure your van must be in the top 3 of efficiency and affordability.
    Thank you so much for all you share with us in your blog.
    Jool in N. Texas

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thanks Jool! Because I never planned to live in this van, it is the minimum conversion–just barely livable. However, I am quite happy living in it! Here is a blog post on it:
      Bob

  9. Foster and parents says:

    Cody can be a real asset on this trip. We have traveled through much of the Southwest with our dogs and they helped us discover some of the most amazing places. Years ago, heading west over Wolf Creek pass in Colorado, our dog declared it was time for a walk. Because of her, we discovered a rest area with a beautiful walking trail that led to a waterfall, and, that we had a “scary” mechanical problem. We enjoy your posts and photos, which helps when we get homesick for the west.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thanks F & P! Cody is always an asset, even when he is a pain in the butt! Like you, I have found some of the best places taking my dogs on a walk! In fact, when I think back on the last 7 years of boondocking full-time, it’s those walks I remember the best!
      Bob

  10. Ed says:

    Saw the documentary and enjoyed it. Reading my way through the post. Seems the van is new. Can you speak to your decision for the change from the truck and trailer. Why not a class b that is about the same size. Would love to go anywhere. Maybe some day I can share a cup of coffee with you. Your travel is a help to us that are unable to at this time.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Ed. I’m not sure I understand your question. I started out in the lower 48 with a just a 4×4 truck. Then I bought the trailer and towed it with the truck. The reason I got the trailer was because I was workcamping and driving my own rig on the job so I need a home to leave in camp.

      The truck needed so much work at the end that I just got rid of it and bought the van. I live in the trailer in the winter and put it in storage in the summer and take the van by itself on trips.

      A Class B is loaded full with stuff I don’t want. I like my rigs very simple, no plumbing, no kitchen, no bathroom–nothing extra. I take the van places that would destroy a Class B and I don’t want that limitation.

      In fact I miss 4×4 so much, soon I will replace the van with a 4×4 pickup.
      Bob

  11. Joy says:

    Good idea Bob! You could also earn ad revenue from utube vids. A lot of people do that , who are not nearly as informative as you are.

  12. Doug Rykerd says:

    Bob, being able to write off your travels is a great idea. The reason I plan on carrying my tools with me next winter when I travel is hopefully I can pick up a few jobs and then do the same. Over Memorial Day weekend my younger son and I completely circled Dinosaur National Monument and covered about 1000 miles from Friday thru Monday. I had never driven the northern section of 191 and it is gorgeous, even in the rain. Some desert and much more mountains and forest. Dinosaur is surrounded by BLM land so tons of dispersed camping. One night we spent camped among a large herd of sheep and spoke with the herder – a very pleasant experience. I had to keep Wolf cabled to the rig though, as the herd dogs are very protective and probably would have treated him as a coyote. When you get into Colorado let me know. If it’s the Front Range you know you always have a place to park up and catch a shower. If it’s more in the mountains I’ll ride the mighty KLR out and meet up someplace. Safe travels.

  13. CAE says:

    Utah looks awesome. I bought a ligule cabin in the mountains in New Mexico. So that’s where I’ll be expplploring this summer.

  14. raz says:

    not poking you, but that river looks like the rivers here in indiana. muddy.

    serbet. raz

  15. Some of my favorites:
    Highway 75, between Ketchum and Stanley, ID
    US95 along the Salmon River, between Riggins and Grangeville, ID
    Rimrock Drive through Colorado National Monument, between Grand Junction and Fruita
    Highway 141, south from Grand Junction
    Highway 4 through the Jemez Mountains, NM, to Highway 126 to Cuba
    US180 from Silver City, NM to Apache Junction, then highway 32 north to Quemado
    Some of these aren’t necessarily high on the drama scale, but they’re very enjoyable.
    Al Christensen recently posted…Hand me a clampMy Profile

  16. JimS says:

    +1 on Hwy 141 between Naturita and Gateway, CO. I’ll add to that Hwy 145, starting in Delores, then continue on 141 up to Whitewater. A very scenic blue road, in my opinion. It goes over Lizard Head pass just south of Telluride. It follows the Delores river for much of the way, which I find that to be an interesting bit of trivia.

    The Delores river’s headwaters start just south of Telluride, flowing south for about 50 miles, where it does an about-face, heading north almost to Grand Junction, where it eventually dumps into the Colorado.

    I’ve never camped around there, but have seen RV’s off to the side in areas just south of Gateway. One particular favorite place I stop for a break is around there (MM 74?), which is at the base of a cliff, providing some much needed shade in the middle of a hot summer day. Definitely room for any size RV.

    Another is just north of Gateway; West Creek rest area. Looks like day use only, but it’s shaded, and hidden from the main road and right next to the creek, along with picnic tables and pit toilets. It has a relatively steep ingress and egress, so probably better suited for overnighting in a van.

    I’d rate it as one of my favorite routes, especially if you ride a bike.

  17. joe says:

    Bob thank you for sharing your story’s and photos you always do it well , you really are living a life of gold !

  18. Alla says:

    Sadness for Me! I was really looking forward to meeting up with you in Western Washington and showing you my turf!.
    Joufull~ness for you! Living your dream and educating people, and earning some dough!
    I am certain that we will meet up when the time is right.

    Happy Trails to You….

    Alla

  19. Joe S says:

    I can’t wait to buy your new book! I love this approach.

    “If you only have two weeks, drive these roads and not those roads. If you have more time, include these roads but not those.”

    A lot of people get overwhelmed by the size and scope of a trip out west. I can see more of my friends and relatives being more likely to take a trip when they have a resource like this. What a perfect present!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thanks Joe, I love guide books so I don’t wast a bunch of time, but most of them recite facts I don’t care about and aren’t brave enough to tell their honest opinion. This one will!
      Bob

      • Jeannie says:

        I will be looking forward to buying your guidebooks— the info on disbursed campsites will be helpful for a newbie like me!
        Thanks for all the great free info and inspiration on your site.

  20. Ming says:

    sounds like it will be a great guide book series! Will you include cell coverage and a few hikes?

    • Bob Bob says:

      Ming, cell coverage yes, hike no. There are dozens of good books and websites on good hiking places in all of these states and I can’t do it anywhere near as good as they already have. I’m only looking to fill a void where nothing else exists.
      Bob

  21. Marie Watts says:

    All I can say is: DONT MISS THE BEARTOOTH PASS!!!

  22. jonthebru says:

    Its time. Your writing skills have improved well as you have done this BLOG through the years. These books should be great.

  23. Jay Dwight says:

    Reading Nomadland brought me here. Like Huck Finn I dream of ” lighting out for the territories.” May be a pipedream, given wife, kids, houses, animals (farm), but ” lose your dreams and you’ll lose your mind.”

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