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The Adventure to Overland Expo 2013

Read the original post and follow Exploring Elements's overland adventures on their website: EXPLORING ELEMENTS.


Leaving the mountains of CO behind as we roll into UT on I-70.

This adventure began along the western slope of Colorado in Grand Junction. After a few days of selling off most of her worldly possessions Sportsmobile to begin her adventure with me on the road. Our first destination would be Overland Expo, just outside Flagstaff, AZ. We left ourselves a few days to adventure on the way south, and ended up seeing some amazing landscapes in Southeast UT and Northeast AZ.


Other Overlanders were exploring the same areas on their trip to Expo. This couple from Texas had a beautiful Lexus LX450 with matching trailer and all sorts of quality kit.

We had little plan, but high hopes, of doing a bunch of miles off pavement and getting to see some of the national parks/monuments in Southeast UT along the way. We rolled into Moab, UT and stopped into the visitor center to look at maps, check trail conditions and make a plan. In the end we got some great info, but not great news and ended up with not much of a plan. It had rained a bunch the week prior and many of the off road tracks were way too muddy to take a 10,000 lb van through. After much deliberation we made a plan of attack that basically had us in the region of SE Canyonlands National Park headed to Natural Bridges National Monument by way of dirt roads, but essentially winging it with only 3 on-road GPS units to guide our way, as I’m working on a GPS review. In fact we didn’t even know if any of the roads went through due to recent washouts and rain, and the park service didn’t know of anyone who had gone through since the rains. We ended up enjoying a few miles of dusty, and sometimes muddy, off pavement driving, that ended with some challenging off road driving as the sun set. We found a great little secluded knoll to park on for the night and enjoyed the spectacular desert sunset.


Huge volume of intricate petroglyphs adorn Newspaper Rock.


Sarah enjoying the sunset, and cool temperatures that it brings in the desert, in her new Loki Hoodie.


Desert sunsets are spectacular! This vantage point was a rock just above the “campsite” that we found for the evening. The metal disk in the bottom left of the photo is a fossil fuel exploration marker, and a cool surprise to run across in such a remote place. A shout out to Loki for keeping me warm in my new Lodur Jacket. (Photo: Sarah Blessington)

We awoke to amazing views and a day that we knew would be full of adventure and exploration. The 3 GPS units all disagreed on road names, and at times, if a road even existed. Luckily, I knew I wanted to head SE, had a compass, plenty of daylight and fuel. We found a “road” that at least 2 GPS agreed went through in the general direction that we wanted to travel and went for it, until the track abruptly ended at a creek with steep banks and thick trees on both sides. After a little exploration on foot, I drove my 10,000 lb Sportsmobile into the creek bed, running with a few inches of water, and slowly drove into what looked like quicksand. Luckily the creek had a firm bottom and after over 1/2 mile of driving up the creek, the track reemerged and kept going in the direction we wanted to travel. We had a blast driving remote desert and forest roads, and found a route all the way through to Natural Bridges. Sadly we didn’t have the fuel to make it there and back to a gas station, so had a required detour to the town of Monticello to refuel. We then drove pavement to the Natural Bridges National Monument, on to the Moki Dugway and finally to the Valley of The Gods. Sunset on the dugway and through the Valley were spectacular and the cool little campsite we found was perfect to enjoy the stars and solitude amongst the huge rock monuments.


This is the amazing view we woke up to, just to the East of Canyonlands National Park.


Unpaved and driver discretion required, check:)


Pictures can not do justice to the amazing views we experienced in the Manti-La Sal National Forest.

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Dyno bouldering action at Natural Bridges. Crumbly sharp rock didn’t make this all that fun. (Photo: Sarah Blessington)

Very cool native cliff dwellings in the cliffs at Natural Bridges.

Very cool native cliff dwellings at Natural Bridges.

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The Moki Dugway is something that has to be experienced, and I highly recommend sunset:)

The Moki Dugway is something that has to be experienced, and I highly recommend sunset:)

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Stargazing in luxuory:)

Stargazing in luxury:)

We awoke to an amazing sunrise lighting up all the huge monuments in the Valley of The Gods. This is truly amazing place that we’ll be sure to explore in more depth in the future. After enjoying a relaxing morning we finished the driving loop through the valley and hit the highway to Flagstaff, AZ. When we turned the van on in the am, the battery warning light lit up on the dash. I honestly figured it was nothing, as there is a new starter and battery in the rig. It turns out the alternator was fried. By the time we made it to the outskirts of Flagstaff there was so little power that the gauges didn’t even work! Luckily we made it to a garage and had a new alternator installed in just a few hours time. We enjoyed some fine brews at Flagstaff Brewing Company, shopped for supplies, fueled up, had amazing wood fired pizza at Pizzicletta and then hit the road for Mormon Lake, the location of Overland Expo.
IMG_7003DSC_0838DSC_0841 IMG_7019 IMG_7023IMG_7031 IMG_7029We rolled into the Expo featured vehicle area late at night and set up camp. It was nice to pop the top and know that we would have a base camp for the next 5 days. Stay tuned for all the awesome that is Overland Expo 2013. You can check out the goodness from 2012 HERE.


About Exploring Elements

"Travel Through an Adventure Sports Lens." Currently full time travel in North America in a Sportsmobile. Working on a new RTW vehicle and hoping to set off in '14 for far away places.

Trip Start: 2012-02-01 Trip End: .

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