Day Four - Moab UT to Beaver UT- 381 miles

We started out heading north on US 191 out of Moab, and we wanted to get some early morning miles behind us as the first part of the ride was going to be fairly boring. We hadn’t even ridden the roughly 30 miles to I-70 before the rain clouds rolled in. We thought we could make the underpass on I-70 before donning the rainsuits but we didn’t make it. We made a quick stop on the side of the road to put on our gear but we still got wet as we waited too long. We blasted west on I-70 for 32 very quick miles before exiting on UT 24 headed toward Hanksville and Capitol Reef National Park. This area is known as the San Rafael Swell which is divided by I-70. The geological formation is approximately 75 square miles in area and lies entirely in Emery County. As we heading south through the Swell and looking at the various formations we decided to take a small detour over to Goblin State Park. It is an in and out road, 8 miles in 8 miles out. The secluded park consists of unique goblin-like rock formations carved by wind and water over thousands of years. It was first discovered by cowboys searching for cattle but later in the 1920s Arthur Chaffin, owner/operator of the Hite Ferry first saw the area and tucked it away in his memory. Then in 1949 he returned and began taking photographs of what he called Mushroom Valley, and due to publicity it finally became a state park in 1964. We looked around and took some pictures and generally found it to be worth the trip. It was a Sunday morning and we had the place to ourselves. Back out on UT 24 we passed by Gilson Butte which was a spot used by the military between 1964 and 1970 to test the Pershing Ballistic Missiles. In Hanksville we turned right and headed back west staying on UT 24. The landscape was becoming more interesting as buttes and rock formations seemed to be coming closer to the highway. We stopped and took a picture of Factory Butte and the surrounding area which is a favorite spot for dirt bikers. Around 2007 there were significant restrictions put in place to curtail rinding in this area, and I don’t know for sure but it doesn’t look like the restrictions were lifted to any extent. Clearly people still ride in the area but none were out on Sunday when we rode past. We continued west riding on UT24 following the Green River into the heart of Capitol Reef National Park. Capitol Reef is a newer national park having only been founded in 1971. The park is characterized by its sandstone formations, cliffs and canyons, and a 100-mile long bulge in the earth’s crust called the Waterfold Pocket. We stopped at a three spots in the park, the first to view the massive domes on the eastern side of the park. Getting through the park is not full bore by any stretch as there are may tourists and the sights are worth the view. We decided to get off the main drag for our second stop. In the center of the park just off of UT24 sits the visitor center and Scenic Drive doubles back headed due east before turning south and follows along the base 900ft butte that runs a mile and a half. The road is paved from that point but then turns to tightly packed dirt that was fine for us. We turned left on Grand Wash Rd but only rode for another mile or so before we decided it was far enough. We walked around a little bit and found some old mine entrances but mostly we stood around and enjoyed the view. We got back out on the road and rode to the third and best stop. I had looked at Google Earth carefully and thought this would be a good place and indeed it was. The area is at the end of Gooseneck Trail, and is slightly beyond Panorama Point on a gravel road but it was well maintained. The overlook is that of a canyon formed by Sulphur Creek. The hiking trails allowed us to get right to the edge and was very invigorating. It was 1:00 in the afternoon and we knew we still had a lot of riding to do so we jumped back on UT24 and continued west. We had climbed 2,000 feet since leaving Hanksville and we were still climbing. We sensed this as the wind was picking up and the temperature was dropping. By the time we reached Loa we had climbed another 1,000 feet and we were now going up into the mountains. We found Fremont River Rd and we were headed to the North side of Fisheye Lake. The road started out a little rough but it soon pretty good. We were hitting pretty hard through the area and having a good ride. The only complaint was that there were many tar snakes and these can really rattle your confidence when leaning hard and you catch one. In about 8 miles we climbed another 2,000 feet taking us just short of 9,000 feet. One would never think it was that high by the terrain, but we knew we were up there as the temperature had dropped significantly and we were on the border of not having enough warm gear. All I can say is the Aerostitch windstopper shirt is the best apparel investment I have ever made. We stopped along the lake for a brief look around by opted for a longer break just past the lake where we could get out of the wind. Fremont River Rd eventually turns into UT25 which then leads back out to UT24; a perfect detour. We turned and headed south on UT62 through Koosharem and down to Otter Creek Reservoir. A pretty boring ride but it didn’t take us long. We turned right staying on UT62 as it met with UT22 and through a range of mountains. Phonolite Hill was on the North and Table Mountain was to the South. We were back down to 6,300 feet and the road followed a stream so it the elevation didn’t change much. Once through Kingston we met up with US89 and headed South, and ran about 30 miles before turning right and West on UT20. This took us over to I-15 where we zipped up to Beaver and our hotel. We had booked the hotel not knowing several of the room had a huge overhang out in front of the room making it essentially an attached garage; it was nice. We arrived around dinner time, and we ate a quick fast food dinner and continued riding making a loop up in the mountains east of Beaver. The road was UT153 and it runs about 17 miles and 3,700 feet up to Puffer Lake. The road is well maintained and lots twists and turns. It starts by carving through a canyon following a stream and as we climb in elevation the scenery turns to lodge pine tall mountains in close proximity. We stopped at Puffer Lake where the pavement ends and soaked up the scenery and turned around and got to it again going downhill. It was after 9:00 by the time we returned. We sat outside in our “garage” and talked with one of our neighbors, drank a few beers and called it a night.