Gooseneck, Mokey Dugway and Muley Point, Utah

Monday, May 4th, 2009


Johns’ Canyon Rd, off 316, is still staring at me. Of course there was time to ride it, almost purposely I left it behind for the next time as I read  “An unpaved 4WD track (FR 244, Johns Canyon Road) leaves UT 316 and heads northwest across the plateau between the ever deepening river canyon and nearby Cedar Mesa, eventually leading far into the Glen Canyon NRA and reaching the banks of the river. This passes several remote side canyons with ruins of Anasazi cliff dwellings.” Exciting and mysterious all at the same time.

San Juan River

more gooseneck  

Not far from base camp in Valley of the Gods, the San Juan River is slow-moving and flows through a relatively shallow red rock canyon with many wide curves. More of these convolutions can be seen in the nearby Goosenecks State Park, reached by a 4 mile paved side road (UT 316) that branches off UT 261 a little way north of Mexican Hat. The park, to which entry is free, has just one extended viewpoint of several huge river bends, now flowing one thousand feet below ground level in a deep canyon with a series of stepped cliffs and terraces, a feature recognized as one of the best examples of entrenched river meanders in the World. At the park, the waters flow through 5 miles of canyon while progressing westwards only one mile. Beyond the visible meanders, the river continues to twist and turn as the canyon deepens, before joining Lake Powell after about 35 miles. There is a point we rode to, it is the one on the upper left corner of the above photo. A bit rough for a regular vehicle or street bike, worth the ride, hike, as it takes one right onto the edge of the cliffs.

red flowers


Camping is allowed free of charge at the viewpoint, and although there are few facilities, a welcomed bathroom, this is a great place to spend the night as one can park just a few feet away from the cliff edge and gaze down onto the river far below, perhaps glimpsing rafters taking the long boat trip to the lake, or in the evening just watch the effect of the setting sun on the far canyon walls, which become yellow then golden red as nighttime approaches.

Mokey Dugway

I do keep Spirit on a long leash when we are this close to cliffs, the thought of him maybe slipping does cross my mind. When Andre arrived for the couple nights he spend with us, we decided then to drive to Muley Point through Mokey Dugway. It truly was the perfect evening, one of those when the sun sets showing off her true golden colors. A graded dirt switchback road, paved at the curves, it is carved into the face of the cliff edge of Cedar Mesa. Unless a vehicle is going up or down one cannot even see the road from the Valley. Four miles of road at a 10% grade, an easy road, more intimidating than anything else and again worth the views when reaching the top.

water truck  

on road water truck

We met up with the water truck Lady with who I managed to chat for a few seconds while she was backing up to make her few times a day ascent… and descent of course. That is her job, someone has to do it, it is part of her own Journey filled with smiles encountering ours. The prize is Muley Point, unexplained, indescribable, it is another Toroweap that takes my breath away with every moment passing while hiking from rock to rock.

crack in the rock

Moley Point a  

I often think why even write about it! The photos themselves do not make any justice of it all, how could my words do? These pages are only a taste for the experience I can only hope that everyone will sometime have that chance to as us be in stupor and speechless while on the crest of this top of the World. I know Andre was, it was his first time around, he could only express himself as being totally drained thinking maybe his own Journey had taken a toll when it was the space itself emptying him from any past his Soul and mind had been filled with, giving him that chance to once again start over a new Life with images so much brighter than maybe what he had seen before. How can one be not transported in the “now” when within these heights overlooking so much more than what a camera lens can even capture and not express. There is no past and there is no future on Muley Point, there is only the present, for most still such a foreign concept only a few days of camping could spark to permanently make it’s mark.

The View

The golden glows where quickly dissipating, the gift was slowly being taken away leaving a permanent imprint within our memories. This is what Life on the road is all about… the luxury of Mother Time… the heightened senses sharpened by her throughout these past months. What else could truly matter? It is as the View not only contained what the eyes could see but be filled with our Lives spread ahead of us with such fervor and beauty. This is what as the expression, maybe a poor one, “back in the saddle” does to my Soul… it is my Life’s nourishment, I cannot anymore live without it.


Not many words exchanged on our return back to base camp, only expressing this scene worthy of our own “twilight zone” wondering if all was truly real or? What were they doing?… and what where “we” doing?

Another campfire

Back to camp the raw images of the night falling upon us took over, the moon, the stars and the silence so loud almost frightened by the crackling sounds of the fire going. Andre needed to head to Moab the next day, we would stay an extra one, but not before as he had promised “a big breakfast”. His company has been a welcomed one, not only because the man cooked which always someone else cooking has been such a treat for me, but here was a soul on the same path as we have been even if his own Journey was much shorter with unfortunately his need to return to Park City, Utah.

Andre Andre's cooking
Andre's truck i Andre's truck j

As my Friend Ryan in Texas, Andre is also a potato gun buff! Ryan… if you reading this… his is better, so I think you need to rebuild! 400~450 feet! We literally had a blast, except for Spirit who did not care for the noise.

Potato gun Potato gun shooting

Will pick all this up from Moab next time where extraordinary events have been happening! People are taking such a big part within this Journey when taking “that time” to meet them and exchange our thoughts… just thoughts mixed on this two way road filled with Love and Peace…


Almost three years of Photography is finally in order on Smug Mug… In “Your Favorites”, in “States”, some labeled “first year” and second year”, now also “Texas the third year”. Feel free to browse, you can even use the slide show mode and have fun. Merchandise is also available through Smug Mug. If you like to order prints, all sizes are available as I store the originals myself considering the huge bandwidth needed to upload them on the Galleries.

Maybe your reading the Blog is worth $1 a month…

Be well…

Ara & Spirit

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3 Responses to “Gooseneck, Mokey Dugway and Muley Point, Utah”

  1. JayElDee Says:

    Hi, Ara,
    Enjoyed the photos as usual

    A question please: 316, 261, Muley Point Rd and John’s Canyon Rd—–each one, are they doable on my R1150R with street tires, assuming it is dry? They all sound beautiful and would love to see that area, if I could make it out there.



  2. brady Says:

    Ara-As always your pictures are amazing, I am amazed at how you are able to capture the light/dark in your photos. Thank you for having this site.

  3. chessie Says:

    Mornin’ Ara…
    I’m feeling better now…it’s still raining here…has been for over a week. The creek in my back yard is threatening to overflow it’s banks and creep up the 100 feet or so to my back door…still I feel my spirits returning to a healthy glow…your trek through Muley Point Rd and John’s Canyon Rd….has help to keep me buoyant ….

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