Since all the pictures of the ‘Grand Adventure 2006’ are not through processing, we are writing about our vacation/30th anniversary trip in sections and not all in order. This story begins on day 4 of our trip; we hiked Wire Pass in Southern Utah that day and are searching out a place to camp as we head back to Colorado. One of the visitor’s centers earlier in our trip had recommended Alstrom Point overlooking Lake Powell. This day, we stopped at another visitors center as we approached Big Water, Utah, for a more ‘local recommendation’. A New York couple camped in the center parking lot had just been out to the point and recommend it so highly, we decided to make the 25 mile trek. Map in hand we head out through ‘the moonscape’ as they called it and onto the point.
On the North side of Big Water, there is a gravel road – washboards and all- that has the dubious distinction of being called State Highway 12. We decided it is the only state highway we have seen anywhere that is dirt or gravel! This ‘highway’ is both. The landscape quickly changes at Big Water. It began in the red-orange rock of Coyote Buttes and within a distance no more than a mile became a bizarre moon-like gray dust that was almost completely void of life. Plant or animal with a very limited plant selection as the pictures show.
The buttes on the left were easily 1,000 feet high. The top 2/3rds were simply sheer rock faces and the bottom 1/3 was softened by the moon hills. The farm girl in me had to get out and feel the soil’s texture. It was a great photo op as this was something we wanted to remember. The soil was soft, light, almost the consistency of powdered sugar.
Another unusual feature of this area were the huge chunks of the rock face that had broken free and casually rambled down into the middle of the moonscape. Some of these came to rest beside the highway and allowed us to realize they were the size of a 2-story house. The contrast of texture and color was quite amazing. After 16 miles of this, we reached the Grand Bench turnoff and headed East towards the lake through more typical desert-like terrain.
The road bounced and rattled for approximately another 8 miles before topping out on the Northeast side of Alstrom Point. This was our first glimpse of the lake and we realized how high we were! It was at least 1500 feet down to the water! The folks at the visitor’s center had said the last mile was a bit rough but we could make it in our “Jeepy”. The truth actually was that the road ended at this spot. Only the adventurous, insane, or the well informed go from here. What followed from this parking spot was a ‘track’ that twisted and turned through and over the rocks. It was almost like one of those Jeep commercials you see. It was difficult to see where it went some of the time and we nearly lost it once. I spotted the rock pile ‘markers’ someone had built and we slowly worked our way out to the point. Matt was driving, much to my relief, as too much of a wrong turn would have made for a big splash into Lake Powell. Do not try this road at night!!
The view was just as promised – breathtaking and like being on top of the World! It took us a while to catch our breath. Alstrom Point is on the southern end of the Lake Powell and the view in all directions is beyond fabulous! We just sat at the top and looked around for some time before even thinking of making camp, it just didn’t seem possible that we were camping in such a phenomenal place. We thought we would be alone in the top of the World but before we had camp made and dinner prepared, company arrived! First, a very nice couple from Germany and then a man from Houston. Each had heard stories or read articles about the photographic opportunities here on this point in the evening and had waited long periods of time to be there. We shared our site with them as they crafted pictures along side us. They didn’t get to take the entire sunset, as this is a very remote, dangerous place to navigate after dark. They needed to get off the point and headed back to Big Water before dark.
We were fortunate to stay the night. The evening was cool, quiet, and positively spectacular as the lake went to sleep. Shadows cast on the rocks and water gave the days views another perspective. Houseboat lights came up and campfires were lit on the beach. We had not thought to bring firewood as we had been camping in the forests where dead wood is plentiful. We walked the point in search of burnable material and ended up burning dead sagebrush. As the dark fell, the stars and planets popped in glorious fashion. We actually saw one of the whole constellations ‘twinkle’ at one point.
It was as delightful photographing the dawn, as it had been the sunset. The shadows on rock formations, the sunlight glistening on the water, the colors of the sky, the lights of the cars miles away as they drove through the winding roads all were awe inspiring. Alstrom point was a difficult place to leave but the day was becoming hot and there is no shade so back through the moonscape we came to civilization or at least another cooler campsite. We highly recommend making the effort to get out to Alstrom Point, if you are ever close. Do check on the weather conditions as the roads are not always passable and the heat can be grueling.