Saturday, May 20, 2017

Jensen, UT (5/18/2017)

Jensen is a small town of just over 400 people in NE Utah.  I came here to re-visit Dinosaur National Monument and some other interesting sites that I've learned about since my last trip to this area.  The main entrance to the monument, where the fossil quarry and exhibits are, is right across the highway from my campground.  The Green River is not far away and offers some good scenery from various points along local roads. 

My drive from Montrose to Jensen was quite interesting.  Before reaching Grand Junction, the winds picked up mightily and reached gusts of 50-60 mph as I drove along I-70.  The rain started soon after and was blowing horizontally for the most part.  Shortly after I turned north, leaving the interstate, the rain turned to snow.  Soon the trees, bushes and ground along the road had a thick coat of white.  As I traveled higher, snow began to stick on the road, making me wonder if I should pull off.  I continued on, since I seemed to have good traction.  After 180 miles, I saw a campground that was tempting, but I kept going and soon turned west.  Suddenly, the snow disappeared and my highway was only wet, a relief for sure.  The rest of the trip was a piece of cake, as the rain soon stopped.

The next day was pretty dreary, with heavy overcast and occasional drizzle.  I went out and did some exploring despite the weather.  I drove into Red Wash, a large area of adobe badlands, similar to those in western Colorado but with more color.  Obviously, these hills of volcanic ash contain quite a bit of red, which explains the name.  The gravel roads in that area are very good, I think because of all the oil/gas drilling done there.  The oil companies can afford better roads than our government can, and they have the incentive to protect their trucks that use these roads.  Anyway, I appreciated their efforts.

Miles and miles of colorful hills and reddish cheat grass, oil pump jacks and gas compression stations, pipelines to carry the output, and the occasional pronghorn.  Some might think the oil/gas operations defaced the land, but it didn't detract much for me.  In fact, it's comforting to know that our supply of fuel is being maintained so well.  Despite it's beauty (to me), I doubt this land would ever have been used for anything else.

Later that day, with no improvement in the weather, I headed for a place I had noticed on the map, called Horseshoe Bend.  Another large area, this place is surrounded by the Green River where it makes a gigantic loop.  The terrain is hilly in places, but there is enough flat land for several ranches, including one that raises llamas.  Naturally, there is more oil/gas operation here, and the roads that criss-cross the area are pretty good.

There were more pronghorns, and several western kingbirds willing to pose.  All in all, it was an enjoyable day, the poor weather notwithstanding.

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