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View Full Version : Dolores Triangle 16-20 Oct 2012


MountainGoat
10-22-2012, 09:12 PM
Had a great adventure out in the Dolores Triangle last week. Left Conifer on Tuesday morning and headed for Grand Junction first to visit my brother and hopefully collect him to go along with me. No dice. It was to be a solo trip into the great unknown.

After a brief visit I went over my itinerary with him and left GJ about 3:30pm, starting the first leg, GJ to Dewey via Glade Park on DS Road. The plan was to find a good campsite on the Colorado River before dark.

Here is my off highway route for Day 1:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1.jpg

Here are some shots from this portion:

Grand Junction and Grand Mesa from the Monument:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1-1.jpg

First look at the La Sal Mountains from DS road, about 45 minutes from GJ:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1-2.jpg

Some of the varied landscape en route to the Colorado River on DS Road:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1-3.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1-4.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1-5.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1-6.jpg

At about an hour 20 and minutes from GJ I came to the river and started looking for campsites:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1-7.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1-8.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1-9.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1-10.jpg

After hitting many dead ends I finally found a killer campsite right on the river:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1-11.jpg

Some views from camp:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1-12.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1-13.jpg

Camp even had a crapper!
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1-14.jpg

A few more shots in & around camp:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1-15.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1-16.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1-17.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1-18.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday1-19.jpg

Had a good night’s sleep listening to the river. There was, however, some odd splashing going on out there. It was strange camping alone. I fell asleep with visions of Gollum crawling up the bank toward my truck …

To be continued.

Caribou Sandstorm
10-22-2012, 09:26 PM
Nice scouting run and Solo... Impressive.. Glad to see you at City Market on Friday. You did not stick around long enough for me to buy you a Starbucks..:D

Fishy
10-22-2012, 10:36 PM
Wow Dan! Nice job on the solo run! Man, there were some awesome trips this week. Makes the SNR pale in comparison......:(

Jacket
10-23-2012, 08:40 AM
:popcorn:

jonharis
10-23-2012, 02:18 PM
Beautiful!

CardinalFJ60
10-23-2012, 02:26 PM
looks like a fantastic time! From what little we saw last spring, it seemed pretty un-tracked. Was it still quiet out there?

and! Great pics!! :thumb:

MDH33
10-23-2012, 06:41 PM
:cool:


Lucky you! :D

MountainGoat
10-23-2012, 10:31 PM
Thanks guys. Yes Shawn, I only saw the road grading crew out there until Friday. Deer season started on Saturday, so the west side was lousy with hunters Friday evening.

On with the report.

Day 2 – Colorado River Camp to Dewey Bridge to Grand Junction via Kokopelli

I woke up early, had to wait for it to get light. Grabbed a cup of coffee and heard a hubbub on the river.

It was just some ducks:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-1.jpg

A few minutes later something moved on the river. I saw it out of the corner of my eye:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-2.jpg

WTF? There were 2 of them:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-3.jpg

They were otters!
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-4.jpg

That explained the splashing in the night. It was not in fact Gollum fishing.

Alright. My plan for the day was to make my way south to the Lake Bottom ford and cross the Dolores. Proceed to Dewey and determine my best next move depending on the time. Get cell service to check in and communicate my itinerary before proceeding. Priorities change when you are going it alone!

Here is my route from camp to Dewey:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2.jpg

Here are some shots from this portion:

Looking back toward camp:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-5.jpg

Same shot zoomed in on campsite:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-6.jpg

My route paralleled the river, so I did a bit of side road exploring:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-7.jpg

Found a decent desert campsite off the river:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-8.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-9.jpg

And a few nice ones on the river:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-10.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-11.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-12.jpg

Then I hit the mother lode. This spot was right on the river and could easily house 20 or 30 trucks:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-13.jpg

And it comes with a tire swing:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-14.jpg

And a ready stock of firewood:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-15.jpg

Don’t forget the fire pit (bigger than my truck):
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-16.jpg

Some more shots of Mega Camp
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-17.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-18.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-19.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-20.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-21.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-22.jpg

Reluctantly I headed back out to the main road and continued south:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-23.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-24.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-25.jpg

Arrived at the intersection. Left to Granite Creek and Gateway via Sheep Creek, right to the river and Dewey Bridge:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-26.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-27.jpg

Some shots along this stretch:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-28.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-29.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-30.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-31.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-32.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-33.jpg

Crossed the Dolores at Lake Bottom in the usual spot. Water was only about hub deep.

Arrived at Entrada Bluffs next to Dewey:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday2-34.jpg

Based on the time and fuel gauge I determined that my best move would be to run the Kokopelli backwards to Grand Junction, refuel and spend the night there. I took zero pictures on this leg mainly because a) I was trying to make time and b) my iPhone GPS decided to demonstrate its inability to lock a signal if you are driving any direction except south. Route finding was difficult and there was a lot of guesswork involved. Lesson learned.

I did find most of the route and ran it. It seemed a little too close to civilization after my time out in the Triangle. I even saw people for the first time since leaving GJ! Anyway, I bailed off the Kokopelli at Harley Dome, which is the first I70 exit in Utah. It was getting dark and I didn’t want to chance it on fuel running solo. Made it back to GJ and planned up for the next day: GJ to Moab via Granite Creek, Sheep Creek, Gateway and John Brown Canyon. Hopefully I can get that section posted up tomorrow. :hill:

Jacket
10-24-2012, 08:44 AM
Damn. I think you found the future spot for a pre-Moab gathering. Nice!

wesintl
10-24-2012, 09:26 AM
ah.. another area I need to explore.

Nice one MountainGoat :thumb:

FJCDan
10-25-2012, 06:31 PM
Very nice report Dan, I know that feeling about doing solo trips. Great pics

MountainGoat
10-25-2012, 09:52 PM
Damn. I think you found the future spot for a pre-Moab gathering. Nice!

It would be an awesome spot to gather. Sometimes the Dolores crossing can be a bit dicey in the spring though. :D

On with the report:

Thursday 10/18/12 Day 3 – Grand Junction to Moab via Granite Creek, Sheep Creek, Gateway, John Brown Canyon and Castle Valley. The route looks like this:

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3.jpg

Headed back out DS Road from GJ into the Triangle. Another beautiful sunny day was on tap and I made good time. Took a few landscape shots on the way:

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-1.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-2.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-3.jpg

Before long I was at the intersection of County Road 109 & 350. Right goes to Granite Creek/Steamboat Mesa and left goes back to GJ via Pinion Mesa up the east side of the Triangle (a route I would explore tomorrow).
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-4.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-5.jpg

The road headed southwest towards the La Sal Mountains:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-6.jpg

Then it turned southeast toward Gateway:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-7.jpg

There is a fork here. If you take the right you go to an old ford on the Dolores which is now closed.
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-8.jpg

The left fork goes down to the Granite Creek crossing which was dry.
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-9.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-10.jpg

Continuing southeast I passed Steamboat Mesa (on the left) and climbed onto the plateau at the far left.
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-11.jpg

There were more pinion trees and less desert as I climbed toward the top of Sheep Creek.
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-12.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-13.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-14.jpg

When I hit the state line the road became a trail and I went into low range.
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-15.jpg

It was tight and rockier. Lots of pinions and junipers got friendly with my Cruiser.
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-16.jpg

When I stopped for lunch I found pinion seeds on my seat.
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-17.jpg

Shortly after lunch I crested the top and got my first look toward Gateway and the Dolores River far below.
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-18.jpg

I dropped onto a steep downhill with a switchback at the end, thinking I was at the legendary Sheep Creek switchbacks. Then the trail promptly flattened out and I came to this old cabin.
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-19.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-20.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-21.jpg

A little further on I came to the real switchbacks. You can see 7 of them from this spot.
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-22.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-23.jpg

Honestly I was a little worried because the only tracks I’d seen since the trail got tougher were ATV, motorcycle and bicycle tracks. Not exactly confidence inspiring, especially on a solo run! I was checking it out on Google Earth and the trail drops 2000 feet in 1.3 linear miles. It is steep and narrow with a couple of multi point hairpins. I made it through fine though. Once I made it off the scary part and wiped my shorts I got some shots of the cool rock formations and views.
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-24.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-25.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-26.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-27.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-28.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-29.jpg

Finally got down to the Dolores and headed a few miles down a dirt road to Gateway.
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-30.jpg

After making check in calls to my safety net peeps I proceeded up John Brown Canyon toward Moab. It was beautiful but I took no pics so I guess you will have to go see it yourself. Near the top I crossed back into Utah.
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-31.jpg

The road then entered the Manti-Lasal National Forest and skirted the La Sal mountains on the north. It was awesome to get up close to them. It also got quite chilly.
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-32.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-33.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-34.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-35.jpg

Finally dropped into Castle Valley northeast of Moab.
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-36.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-37.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday3-38.jpg

It was 8 hours since I’d left Junction that morning and I was beat. So I hightailed it into Moab and got a motel room and some barbecue. Never realized that I was only a few miles away from where Chris Davis was camped out at Onion Creek until I fired up my laptop in Moab and read his posts. Doh! :homer:

bh4rnnr
10-27-2012, 02:07 PM
Awesome trip and report Dan! Been wondering about that area for some time:cool::bowdown:.

MountainGoat
10-30-2012, 10:01 PM
Awesome trip and report Dan! Been wondering about that area for some time:cool::bowdown:.

Thanks Perry! It is totally worth checking out. I recommend it highly.

Finally got around to writing up the last day of the trip:

Friday 10/19/12 Day 4 Ė Moab to Grand Junction via CR350 with river crossing exploration. The route (dark blue) looks like this:

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4.jpg

After breakfast I had a quick visit with the Needles camping crew at City Market in Moab. Then headed back out to Dewey Bridge up 128. Another perfect day weather-wise, clear and sunny. My plan was to first check out the secondary Dolores Ford near Dewey (which Martin, Shawn Cardinal and I spotted during CM 2012) Then check out an old ford that is now closed from one side by locating and approaching from the side that is still open. Then head towards Grand Junction via a different route that heads southeast and then travels north through the eastern side of the Dolores Triangle.

This shows the location of crossing #2, which is at the blue arrow. The usual crossing (Lake Bottom) is at the red arrow.

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-1.jpg

At this crossing you enter the river and drive about 500 feet downstream before exiting on the north bank. It was about 8 inches deeper than the other crossing at itís deepest. Here are some pictures:

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-2.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-3.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-4.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-5.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-6.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-7.jpg

After successfully crossing I headed up into the triangle to find the old ford. Here are some pics:
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-8.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-9.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-10.jpg

Made it to the old river ford location. It was closed on the south side when the state bought some land and established an outdoor school. They gated the road coming in from that side and the public is not allowed through. I was checking it out from the north bank. It was quite overgrown.

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-11.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-12.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-13.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-14.jpg

Did a little exploring and found a couple of okay campsites and some pretty views.
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-15.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-16.jpg

Got a view of the school across the river.
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-17.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-18.jpg

Did some exploring in a side canyon and found an interesting structure. No idea what the history is.
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-19.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-20.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-21.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-22.jpg

And the token lizard shot.
http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-23.jpg

Finally headed back out and northeast to CR350. On the map it looked about the same distance as DS Road coming in. But it took about twice as long to travel because is was a lot rougher and rockier. At one point it turns back southwest toward Gateway for a while and I began to think I was on the wrong road. But it turned in the right direction again just before it would have hit the state line.

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-24.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-25.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-26.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-27.jpg

There began to be people as I got closer to the DS Road intersection. First Deer Season in Utah started the next day, and the hunters were getting their camps set up. At one point I came to an interesting rock formation tucked into the trees. I thought it would make an awesome campsite. Around the corner there was a track into it and it was pretty cool.

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-28.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-29.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-30.jpg

http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/uploads/mountaingoat/dt/dtday4-31.jpg

Within another 20 minutes I was back out to the state line on DS Road. Back to Grand Junction and civilization.

All in all this was an awesome trip and I am glad I got the time to check the area out. The Dolores Triangle had always been a mystery to me, even though I had spent a lot of my life around its edges. Now that I know whatís out there I am stoked to get back and do some more exploring. I covered the primary routes, but there are tons of side roads that I never even touched. The geography is interesting and beautiful, and there is plenty more discovering to be done. :cool: