The adventure continued our last full day in Utah after leaving Capitol Reef National Park. Instead of taking Utah 24 back to I-70 directly to Moab, we headed south on Route 95 with the intent of skirting the south end of Canyonlands before hitting U.S. 191 again and arriving back in at our campsite. While this added about an hour-and-a-half to our already two hour long drive, the route did take us into some truly spectacular places.
Intrigued by the name of a trail we saw while looking at Google Maps, we stopped at the Hog Springs Recreation Area in hopes of finding Hogwarts Canyon. Instead of finding Platform 9 3/4, we found a beautiful picnic area nestled in the canyons along the Scenic Byway of Utah’s southern desert south of Hanksville.
After parking in the small lot that was ample for the amount of traffic this Bureau of Land Management site receives on a weekday, we crossed the suspension bridge- which does sway- to check out the area. There was no traffic on the highway or in the canyon, and we pretty much had the picnic area to ourselves. It was truly lovely, with the red rock canyon walls, the Henry Mountains, and Hog Creek. We checked out the serene picnic area and around the canyon. While the trail to the waterfall is only about a mile, we opted not to take the hike on this trip. It was nice though, checking out the canyon, which has petroglyphs and lovely vegetation. The area is designated for day use, and there is a guest register at the bridge over the creek. The site has grills, interpretive signs, shade structures, and vault toilets which were actually pretty clean. Hog Springs is a wonderful place for a day trip just north of Lake Powell.
After trekking around Hog Springs, we continued south, entering the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is managed by the National Parks Service and covers over 1.25 million acres, from the Orange Cliffs in Utah south to Lees Ferry in Marble Canyon, Arizona. Lake Powell makes up about 13 percent of the area, according to the National Parks Service, and is an enormous reservoir along the Colorado River, the second largest in the nation. The recreation area was established in 1972 to “provide for public outdoor recreation use and enjoyment of Lake Powell and lands adjacent thereto in the States of Arizona and Utah and to preserve the scenic, scientific, and historic features contributing to the public enjoyment of the area.” (NPS, 2019)
We were able to enjoy the scenery along Route 95. The rugged canyons were so pretty in the golden hour light. We drive along to Hite Crossing, the arch bridge that crosses over Lake Powell on Utah 95, making stops along the way to take photos of the area’s features and stretch our legs. Typically there would be a number of water recreation opportunities, however, with the ongoing drought some of the docks are closed at this time.
With such a limited amount of time, we did not have time to make stops at Natural Bridges or Rainbow Bridge National Monuments. But it was still a beautiful drive, a picturesque side trail on the way back to Moab.
U.S. Department of the Interior. (n.d.). Park statistics. National Parks Service. Retrieved June 23, 2022, from https://www.nps.gov/glca/learn/management/statistics.htm#:~:text=Arizona%20and%20Utah.-,Lake%20Powell,(32%20million%20cubic%20meters).