Torrey – Slot Canyons and Monsoons

Route 12 is a scenic byway and is also designated as an ‘ All American Road’. This is because it has many features that make it unique.The last part of the road that passes over Boulder Mountain was not tarred until the 1980’s making Torrey ( population 179 ) one of the most remote little towns in the region, especially as the road is snowbound for up to six months of the year.The drive starts below towering grey cliffs, their summits poking through low cloud.


We pass through Grand Staircase Escalante which is a National Monument of over 1.9 million acres. It was one of the last areas in the States to be mapped in 1872 and even then the terrain made it very difficult for the pioneers to navigate.

We pass by canyons that spread into oblivion and where no one lives. The road has attracted a few inhabitants along its length and one hardy old fella built a beautiful eco house in the 80’s; made from massive wood pillars and glass it is a semi circular lookout on one of the bluffs. Now it has become a superb stop for coffee. I recommend the Kiva Coffee House to anyone passing this way.

At Boulder we turn off route 12 to explore a section of the Burr Trail. Eleven miles in, the road suddenly drops into a Canyon and soon we find the little slot Canyon that we are looking to explore. Slot canyons were formed by the force of water, and can be as little as 3 feet wide but up to 100 feet high and sometimes many miles long. It is only short – a couple of hundred yards, but it gives a feel what it is like to experience the rocks enclose you. Marilyn is actually quite afraid, especially when a man exiting the slot warns us of a large scorpion on the rocks. She is mighty brave ,however, and manages to drag herself along most of the Canyon before needing to make a quick exit. 


We continue to mile seventeen and have lunch overlooking a huge valley where the road eventually turns into a dirt track and which we decide not to chance in the hire car.

We return the way we have come to take the scenic road over Boulder Mountain. The Aspens are doing their autumn turn here at over nine thousand feet and contrast with the dark clouds that threaten a storm and the black cattle that graze the meadows. Their leaves shine and glisten in the breeze.

Route 12 is a scenic byway and is also designated as an ‘ All American Road’. This is because it has many features that make it unique.The last part of the road that passes over Boulder Mountain was not tarred until the 1980’s making Torrey ( population 179 ) one of the most remote little towns in the region, especially as the road is snowbound for up to six months of the year.

The drive starts below towering grey cliffs, their summits poking through low cloud.

We pass through Grand Staircase Escalante which is a National Monument of over 1.9 million acres. It was one of the last areas in the States to be mapped in 1872 and even then the terrain made it very difficult for the pioneers to navigate.

We pass by canyons that spread into oblivion and where no one lives. The road has attracted a few inhabitants along its length and one hardy old fella built a beautiful eco house in the 80’s; made from massive wood pillars and glass it is a semi circular lookout on one of the bluffs. Now it has become a superb stop for coffee. I recommend the Kiva Coffee House to anyone passing this way.

At Boulder we turn off route 12 to explore a section of the Burr Trail. Eleven miles in, the road suddenly drops into a Canyon and soon we find the little slot Canyon that we are looking to explore. Slot canyons were formed by the force of water, and can be as little as 3 feet wide but up to 100 feet high and sometimes many miles long. 


It is only short – a couple of hundred yards, but it gives a feel what it is like to experience the rocks enclose you. Marilyn is actually quite afraid, especially when a man exiting the slot warns us of a large scorpion on the rocks. She is mighty brave ,however, and manages to drag herself along most of the Canyon before needing to make a quick exit. 


We continue to mile seventeen and have lunch overlooking a huge valley where the road eventually turns into a dirt track and which we decide not to chance in the hire car.


We return the way we have come to take the scenic road over Boulder Mountain. The Aspens are doing their autumn turn here at over nine thousand feet and contrast with the dark clouds that threaten a storm and the black cattle that graze the meadows. Their leaves shine and glisten in the breeze. 

They spread by their root system and it is said that the forest up here is one of the worlds biggest living organisms, joined as it is by its roots.

We can pass easily enough over the summit but until 1935 milk and mail needed to be delivered by horseback and in times of heavy snow the road is still very difficult leaving towns like Boulder and Torrey very cut off.

As we descend the mountain into Torrey we see a huge thunder cloud forming in the distance. We are actually above the threatening grey of the bottom of the towering cloud mass. As we reach Torrey itself the sky has lit up with sheets of lightening and thunder and we are glad to take shelter in the visitor centre. We are told that the storm has passed to the North and so we get back in the car to drive the remaining few miles to our Airbnb.

Mistake.

Suddenly the world turns black, winds howl and the heavens open with a deluge the like of which I have never seen. I find it impossible to drive and pull into a safe place to allow the storm to pass. Other drivers don’t seem so worried and continue to hurtle down the road which is now a river torrent. We can see free range cattle straddling the centre of the highway down in the valley and the stream of cars just manage to brake and manoeuvre around them. It is chaos and how no one was killed I do not know. 

And then ,as soon as it came, the rain stops and the storm moves on. These violent Monsoon storms are common in this area at this time of year and need to be watched out for when out on hikes. In slot canyons like the one we were in today sudden flood surges can appear from nowhere and water can deluge with the force of a couple of elephants. It is important to check on the weather conditions before setting out on walks or even when taking a car on any off road situations as rain can make the sandy tracks impassable for days at an end.

By the time we reach our lovely bnb the sun is coming out. We have a room with windows on three sides, elevated above a desert garden and facing the hills.

We watch the sun set as the last of the clouds disappear over the hills and ponder on how hard life must be for the folk who live here despite the breathtaking beauty of the surroundings.


They spread by their root system and it is said that the forest up here is one of the worlds biggest living organisms, joined as it is by its roots.

We can pass easily enough over the summit but until 1935 milk and mail needed to be delivered by horseback and in times of heavy snow the road is still very difficult leaving towns like Boulder and Torrey very cut off.

As we descend the mountain into Torrey we see a huge thunder cloud forming in the distance. We are actually above the threatening grey of the bottom of the towering cloud mass. As we reach Torrey itself the sky has lit up with sheets of lightening and thunder and we are glad to take shelter in the visitor centre. We are told that the storm has passed to the North and so we get back in the car to drive the remaining few miles to our Airbnb.

Mistake.

Suddenly the world turns black, winds howl and the heavens open with a deluge the like of which I have never seen. I find it impossible to drive and pull into a safe place to allow the storm to pass. Other drivers don’t seem so worried and continue to hurtle down the road which is now a river torrent. We can see free range cattle straddling the centre of the highway down in the valley and the stream of cars just manage to brake and manoeuvre around them. It is chaos and how no one was killed I do not know. X

And then ,as soon as it came, the rain stops and the storm moves on. These violent Monsoon storms are common in this area at this time of year and need to be watched out for when out on hikes. In slot canyons like the one we were in today sudden flood surges can appear from nowhere and water can deluge with the force of a couple of elephants. It is important to check on the weather conditions before setting out on walks or even when taking a car on any off road situations as rain can make the sandy tracks impassable for days at an end.

By the time we reach our lovely bnb the sun is coming out. We have a room with windows on three sides, elevated above a desert garden and facing the hills.


We watch the sun set as the last of the clouds disappear over the hills and ponder on how hard life must be for the folk who live here despite the breathtaking beauty of the surroundings.

​​

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