June 18, Day 17: We ventured Cottonwood Canyon Road, a 47-mile backroad through the Grand Escalante National Monument from near Zion to Kodachrome Basin State Park. We left our yurt near Zion National Park and headed east on US Highway 89 for a couple of hours to a non-descript exit. We turned north, and the pavement ended.
My research said that a 4×4 is a good idea for the trek. We found that amusing, as the road was rough but graveled. It resembled what we drove growing up in rural Kansas! At the beginning of the drive, the vistas were vast and dry, with the road disappearing in the distance. Soon though, we were winding through canyons, over ruts, and dodging fallen rock.
Lower Hackberry Trail
We found the Lower Hackberry Trailhead leading to Yellow Rock. The vegetation here progressed from sagebrush to junipers, cedars, then on to cottonwoods and even willow. The creek was dry as a bone, but there must water somewhere below the sandy surface for those to survive. We found birds aplenty and lizards as well. We hiked a mile or two towards the bluff through the deep sand and decided it was time to turn around. If we wanted more sand, we would go to a beach!
Cottonwood Canyon Narrows
We stopped again at Cottonwood Canyon Narrows. It, too, was sandy but not so deep, with some boulder scrambles as well. We found a side trail that took us into a slot canyon.
At the terminus, we found a cascade washing down. If you took the picture from a distance, it would look like a white waterfall, but as you got closer, it is all sand, some as fine as talcum powder, crumbling down from the Mesa high above and down through this crevice.
We continued northward in the Jeep, and almost immediately, the topography became more dramatic. The road changed too; no longer gravel but packed and rutted red clay. With rain, this road would turn to grease, and even a 4×4 wouldn’t help much. I understood now why a 4×4 was recommended.
Our final stop was a Grosvenor Arch, another dramatic view. Shortly after, the pavement began, and the road led us to Kodachrome Basin State Park and Bryce Canyon, posts and photos for another day.