July 4th San Rafael Swell and Robbers Roost,2008 – By Paul R

Our journey started before we left as Mariko and I have recently been studying and reading the stories and tales of Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch. This reading urged us to get out and explore the areas we had read about to get a feel for it all. We wanted to cover as much ground as possible; settling with a solid trip to the swell which covered lots of outlaw history, plus other sights and history that the area has to offer.
Route:

Mariko and I cruised down to Salt Lake to meet up with Jason (SAMI) and his brother Thomas, loaded up on fuel in Draper, and made Hanksville our new heading. We had heard about construction on Highway 6 so we decided to cruise down I-15 to Scipio, and take 24 through Capitol Reef to start out the trip. We got to Fruita just as the sun was saying its final goodbyes. So, instead of sticking around for long we pushed on. Around 10pm we found Hanksville ripe with expensive fuel, and tasty Hot Pockets. Cruising down 95 we dropped off onto the Poison Springs Wash Road and started looking for camp. Not wanting to be right in the wash we wandered down the road until we came to a great little spot to set up for the night.
Capitol Reef Visitors Center/ Fruita:
Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

Camp #1:
Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

As the sun rose, bringing light in the morning we realized how great our surroundings were, and how happy we all were to be away from the busy routines of a normal 4th of July. I know I cannot possibly describe how great the area is and accurately portray it. So, in order for you to understand and see for yourself, you must take a drive through the area. I will try however to explain some areas of interest more, striving to capture our experience. I will surely do the areas injustice with my descriptions, but this will be an attempt to express some of the area and surely not a comprehensive report.
In the morning we packed up quick and continued down the wash, crossing through puddles stocked with hundreds of tadpoles. I had read that Dirty Devil River Crossing is usually about bumper deep. Yet when we rolled through it, the water was down to the main channel and barley came half way up the tires. We were slightly disappointed with the lack of adventure of this river crossing (we would have to wait a day or 2 for river crossing adventure).
Poison Springs Wash Road:
Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

Tadpoles:
Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

Crossing Dirty Devil River:
Photo courtesy of Jason Goates


Over Looking Dirty Devil River:
Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

Driving down the road from Dirty Devil River is slightly uneventful until Sunset Pass, with the exception of an old refrigerator and an old Hudson car abandoned in the desert, that had been converted to a travel trailer by an adventure seeker from decades ago. As we climbed up and over Sunset Pass we entered the Glenn Canyon National Recreation Area and came to a cross section to go down to Lake Powel, over to the Doll House (Canyonlands), or up to the Flint Trail.

Mariko decided to drive :

Old Hudson:
Photo courtesy of Jason Goates


We decided to stick to our plan to head north to the Flint Trail, which is a beautiful road that winds its way up to the top of the Robbers Roost. We stopped and took in the awesome view with the Maze district of Canyonlands National Park off in the distance. The trail was mostly higher speeds to the Hans Flat Ranger Station, which we found locked up tight; though I’m sure we could have found help if we needed. It was hot and buggy, so we decided to wait and eat lunch closer to the Roost Springs. We dropped down a side road off of Ekker Ranch Road that I had GPS coordinates for, and had to check a couple times to make sure it was right. The road dropped from loose sand down a little sandstone ledge and got onto a faint 2 track trail. Although it looked like a small rancher access road it turned out to be cool going by Silvertip Springs, Dead Man’s Hill and the remains of the Cottrell cabin, and finally ending at the campsite right above the trail down to Robber’s Roost Springs. It was extremely hot and more buggy than comfortable, so after reading some of the names and cowboy-glyphs in the rocks. We ate a quick lunch and took the Hans Flat Road out to Highway 24 to Hanksville to fill back up on fuel. It was really cool to see the area of the Robber’s Roost, and while there isn’t a whole lot there today to represent its past, it was great just to know that some of the west’s most famous outlaws spent time throughout the area avoiding the long arm of the law. It is very remote and arid and it is not hard to see why it would be hard to penetrate in the late 1800’s.
Flint Trail Overlook:

Wild Burros:

Remains of Cottrell Cabin:

Old Cottonwood Tree near Robbers Roost Springs:
Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

After fueling up in Hanksville we drove through a sandstorm on our way into the Swell via the Goblin Valley access road. Once we got up closer to the sandstone the wind died down and we headed towards the Temple Wash Trail. I wasn’t paying as close attention to the GPS as I should have, which landed us one wash too early. It wound in and out of sandstone and ended up being a blast to drive, but soon became increasingly narrow, nearly abandoning us as it headed up and over the canyon wall. We ended up traveling a small ATV trail that traversed the side of the canyon for a bit until it became narrow and sketchy onto the slick rock. We turned back to the bottom of the wash and found a cairn marking another route we turned and followed it for a ways until it too became a bust. While it was certainly a fun change from the higher speed roads, we were anxious to find somewhere to camp. We ended up going back to the trail turnoff at the fence, checking out the desired waypoints and realizing the mistake that was made. We went up the right wash, and it was very clear that we were finally on the correct road. Temple Mountain wash is a cool drive with sandstone walls on each side that winds in and out until it arrives at Temple Mountain Ghost town.
The town was originally built in the early 1900’s and was thriving by 1910. Some believe uranium ore mined from here was sent to Marie Currie to play a part in her Radium experiments. In any case the town shut down during the depression as foreign sources of ore were available. It wasn’t populated again until the great uranium boom of the 1950’s. However, the little town would never be the same due to the popularity of the automobile, and ease of driving greater distances for supplies. Many of the miners lived in trailers, and a few families lived in the old cabins. It wasn’t a big deal by this time to travel into nearby towns for supplies, thus the town never really took hold again. Once the uranium boom was over, most residents just hitched up their trailers and left. Today only a few structures and old cars are left.
We snapped pictures of the area and then determined to have a little fun with firearms. After shooting, we decided that we would camp right there in the middle of town, and began to set up camp. As Jason and Thomas started the campfire, Mariko and I cooked up some dinner mmm… Bacon wrapped chicken and couscous with some green beans! We all sat around the campfire as Thomas played the guitar and sang. Life is good! Later on that night I set up the laptop and downloaded all the waypoints for the next few days and we all crashed for the night.
Heading up the wrong wash:
Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

Photo courtesy of Jason Goates


Temple Mountain Ghost Town:

Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

Food:
Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

Camp #2:
Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

We woke up to a slightly overcast day which was welcomed as the desert is usually extremely hot in July. Thomas cooked us up some great breakfast burritos, and we each took turns using the solar shower. It felt great to be in the middle of nowhere and clean, even though for a while we had to hold the shower shelter down before it became a kite in the big wind bursts. With one of the poles of the shower shelter tweaked, we staked down the shelter at all corners. I don’t think I will be able to go without the shower in the future, and will have to come up with some better solutions. After breaking camp we made our way to Swasey’s Cabin via Rod’s Valley Trail. After hiking around and finding some sweet little areas behind the cabin, Jason snapped some great pics and we started going down Eagle Canyon. It was a fun trail as it came to a giant arch and crossed through washes and underneath the I-70 trestles which towered above. We continued through and wound back up on the south side of I-70 again after crossing through an extremely narrow culvert.
Swasey’s Cabin:


Sweet pictures Jason took behind Swasey’s Cabin:
Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

Eagle Canyon Arch:

I-70 Bridges:
Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

Photo courtesy of Jason Goates

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