Alaska Trip, Part 1
In the spring of 2017 we were privileged to head out with our camper on a 90 day adventure to Alaska,
Alaska Part 1
We took the long way to Alaska by heading south :-) through Colorado first, then north through Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, and then Alaska.
We left home on May 6, 2017 and traveled south to Blue Mesa Reservoir near Gunnison, CO. We stayed at the Ponderosa campground which is several miles up & down a dirt road that leads to a finger of the big lake. Last time we stayed here we had kayaks with us and were able to spend time out on the water.
There were a lot of ticks (SHUDDER) this time of year and the resident deer that kept leaping through the area. Blue Mesa is a reservoir that was made by flooding a couple of towns and some of the structures were visible on the fish finder from the kayak. The lake is over 400ft deep in some places. There are interesting formations (pillar-like) and sheer rock walls along the lake, as well as rolling hills.
Shot from the campground.
On day 4 of our journey we drove through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison on CO Hwy 92. Such a beautiful area! This is a very deep, as much as 2250 ft, and narrow canyon with sheer cliffs, rock formations with trees growing in precarious places and a raging river at the bottom. The ranger told us it would spoil us for the Grand Canyon. We stayed at Crawford State Park on another lake. Here we explored the northern rim of the canyon. Another really pretty area with very green pastures and rolling hills and lots of colors in the rock.
Our next stop was Dinosaur National Monument on the Utah side. Our drive took us through many terrain changes from stark to lush green fields, flat sagebrush covered areas to vistas of colorful rock formations. We stayed by the Green River which was flowing fast and looked as though it would overflow it's banks. Our view from our camper was of Split Mountain in the background with green rolling hills and a meadow of grazing cattle & horses in the foreground and the river between.
We saw Mountain bluebirds, a few kingbirds and a Bullock's Oriole pair around our campsite. We explored the park, hiked to an area with petroglyphs and went into the quarry and saw the wall of dinosaur bones. SO COOL!
From Dinosaur we trekked to the Flaming Gorge. The highway signs told us of archeological findings like ancient sand dunes, Sharks teeth, rising seas and dinosaurs as we traveled through areas of exposed layers of different colored earth from ages past. There was a large area where they were mining for phosphate and a short, but steep & curvy pass we had to go over. We stopped at a place called Cedar Grove campground which reminded us of our old mountain home in Lyons CO...except for the big lake below. During our exploration of this area we ended up with a rapidly deflating tire. Unfortunately we were in a pretty remote area and ended up having to put the spare on. At least this time it wasn't on the camper when we were towing it! We limped back to camp and then had to go in to the town of Vernal, UT to get the hole patched the next day. We've been seeing marmots, turkey vultures, and mountain goats, osprey, swifts, and a bald eagle or two.
We took a tour of the dam and fed the huge trout who live at the base of it. They told us the wildlife service netted a 75 pounder here.
Our weather turned ugly (much worse than the forecast predicted) as we headed north towards Rock Springs, WY on the 18th of May. We should have hunkered down where we were one more day. Our trip that day was a frighteningly long, slow trek up the mountain through white-out conditions while towing the camper. We were getting pretty freaked out. We came upon a 5th wheel stuck on a hill and had to pass it. He wasn't going anywhere and there was nothing we could do to help, we've wondered how long they had to sit there. There was no place to get safely off of the road or to turn around so we had to trudge on and slipped a couple of times with steep slopes on each side of the road. I prayed constantly! We finally made it to Rock Springs where we parked in the first campground we found...it was an expensive muddy hole but we just needed to stop! The storm lasted through the night and it got quite cold outside but we were toasty...and safe.
The next day the roads were nice and dry so we ventured on to Jackson, WY. We saw antelope and just as we were pulling in to the campground we saw a cow moose by the river (we named her Mary). We also passed by a very large golden eagle as it sat on a post by the roadside.. We could see the Tetons from the camp site which facilitated many pictures. We walked the town of Jackson and came upon an antler auction. Very strange to see thousands of various kinds of antlers lining the streets around the town square. A pair of moose antlers went for over $2000 !!! We've explored the back roads of the Gros Ventre (pronounced Graw Vaunt) area and found some really remote campgrounds and huge ranches set in beautiful green meadows with red hills surrounding them.
We saw sheep, either Big Horn or Dall, not sure which and went to the National Museum of Wildlife Art. On the way back to camp we saw a pair of Sandhill Cranes with 2 chicks. That was exciting!
Tomorrow we head further north into Teton National Park.
To Be Continued................