May 28, 2022 Moab, UT Day 5

We got up later than usual and had a leisurely morning. Auggie seemed to be doing well this morning. He had a small bit of his chicken and rice mixture before his walk and another small portion when he returned. He would rest while we are gone and we’ll see if he can keep it all down today. We made plans to do some more off-roading. We packed a lunch and left the campground at 11:00. We stopped for gas at a station a block from the campground. Gas was $4.69/gal. Today we had overcast skies with a temp of 83. There was a wind advisory out for counties near us, but it would still be windy for us, just not as bad. Today was going to be a total surprise for me. Bob did his homework and had chosen the 4WD trail we would take today. It was one we hadn’t done before. We took Highway 191 out of Moab and past Arches NP. There was a long waiting line to get into the park again. It was Saturday, so we weren’t surprised. From the highway, we could see cars and campers climbing the hills into the park.

Passing Arches, we saw this interesting vehicle pulling this unusual trailer. Bob said it was a sheepherders hut that they use when they are out in the fields herding their sheep for days at a time.

We continued on Highway 191 north about 3 miles past the Canyonlands NP entrance road to Mill Canyon Dr. We saw these beautiful green-tinted cliffs in different areas outside of town along the highway. This “green hillside” was so unusual, but very beautiful.

We found Mill Canyon Dr. and began looking for signs for Tusher Tunnel. The Tusher Tunnel Trail is a 13.8 mile loop and is ranked as “easy”.

We drove a short way and Bob found a place to “air down” the tires. The wind was howling through the area at 20 mph out of the south creating a lot of dust for Bob. We passed another Jeep coming out and in the parking lot there were quite a few other vehicles. “Airing down” really helps with a smoother ride over the rocks and washerboard sections of the road on these types of 4WD trails. It was so much better! The beginning part of the trail was gravel, but then it became rocky.

More signs pointed the way toward Tusher Tunnel. The terrain was dry and desert-like for a lot of the way. There wasn’t much to see.

As we got closer to the canyon, the scenery got more interesting.

Out in the distance, we caught sight of some dust clouds that were being made by 6 dirt bikers. We were curious as to what direction they were going to go. If they were coming our direction, we needed to be prepared to pull off to the side. When we got to the intersection of the two trails, we could see that they had gone off in the other direction by their tire tracks.

At times, the driving surface was rocky with sharp, pointed boulders and at other times we had to climb over smooth rocks. It could also be sandy and sometimes the sand was deep. We had to climb over dunes and through narrow-cut passages.

Periodically, there were a few signs pointing us in the right direction. We also had our GPS in the Jeep and our All Trails app on the phone running, but sometimes part of the trail was closed and we ended up making a wrong turn.

Some UTV’S came by and we waved them on ahead because they travel faster than we do.

Sometimes even with a sign the way was unclear. It was pointing to the right, but the trail was fenced off. We had to find an alternate path to take.

At one point, I had to get out and direct Bob over some very, large sharp rocks. We made it through without a scrape.

We got to the point on the trail where we could see up ahead.. There were a group of UTV’S gathered and we figured that’s where we needed to be.

Looking back at the scenery behind us, gave us some very beautiful views.

We parked the Jeep and took the short walking trail to Tusher Tunnel. We had to climb up a few rocks to get to the tunnel entrance.

Once we got past the rocks, the tunnel entrance was clear.

Bob hung back at first because he felt his shoes were a little slippery on the sandy rocks. I entered the tunnel entrance and it seemed a little spooky. I couldn’t see the opening at the other end.

I walked in a little further and could finally see the light at the other end.

I walked back to get Bob. He had to see this. Between the two of us, we figured out a safer way for him to climb up to the tunnel entrance.

It was a short walk to the other end and well worth the trip. The sun was shining on this side of the tunnel for a great picture. Can you tell how hard the wind was blowing through the tunnel. Check out my hair!

The view was amazing from this side. It looked like layers of liquid had poured out along the ground.

We stood out there for awhile taking in the view.

When we had arrived at the tunnel parking lot earlier, there were already two UTV’S parked there. By the time we finished our walk and returned to the Jeep, 4 more UTV’S had arrived.

We sat there and enjoyed our picnic lunch as another UTV and a Jeep arrived. The place was getting crowded.

After we finished our lunch, we packed up to go and followed one of the UTV’S back out. As we were leaving, we could see about 6 more UTV’S waiting for us to come out before they came in. The trail was very narrow here and two vehicles could not pass each other easily.

The drive back always seems shorter, but the road and rocks seem different from this direction.

At an intersection of two trails, we encountered 2 more UTV’S that we let go ahead of us as they were traveling faster than we were.

From here, the road back seemed much easier and the views were amazing.

This is one of my favorite views on this trail.

As we neared the road entrance, we noticed another road, Thornburg Road, and went to check it out. I had remembered a sign that I saw when we came in that said something about a dinosaur trail and this was it.

We followed Thornburg Road which took us back towards Mill Canyon in another area. There we found the Dinosaur Trail.

We parked and started on the trail following the kiosks that described what we were looking at.

The first sign described a time when the area was once covered by water and the dinosaurs lived there. When it was dry season, the dinosaurs returned to this area because of the water source there.

At the beginning of the trail, you could see these very distinctive spires that stood out in the middle of the canyon. When the water eroded the soft limestone and sandstone rock around them, all that remained were the hard rock spires.

The Dinosaur Trail took us on a path along this ledge where dinosaur fossil bones were embedded in the rocks.

The kiosks told you which dinosaur the bone came from and had a picture of the dinosaur skeleton to show where in the dinosaur’s body it was located. The black items in the rocks are the fossils.

It was a pretty cool display. We both love dinosaurs and fossils and found it very interesting. After finishing up on the trail, we went back to the Jeep and went to look at the campground. You can camp at the state campgrounds in the area for $15/night on a first-come, first-served basis. They might have water, but usually not electricity or sewer, so it’s mostly “dry camping”. You can definitely be off by yourself in very remote areas with a lot of privacy and very dark skies. It’s not for everyone. This campground had life-sized statues of miners and their pack mules in the field. It really caught our eye.

Before we left the area, Bob had to “air up” the tires for the drive back to town. It took him 3 minutes per tire. Not bad! We were on the road back to Moab in no time, The skies became partly cloudy and the sun began to peek out in some places. It lit up some of the cliffs along the road.

Moab sits in such a pretty valley with red rock bluffs all around. Arches NP was busy again with lines of people waiting to get in. Across from the entrance to Arches is a huge sand hill where people like to sled down and they were busy enjoying it today.

We saw lots of electric bikers on the bike path from town all the way out into the hills outside of town. They needed electric bikes today with the 20 mph wind funneling through the canyon. We made a quick stop at a convenience store for buns for sandwiches and got back to the campground around 3:00. Auggie was happy to see us and had no surprises for us. We’re hoping that’s a sign that he’s feeling better. Auggie and I sat outside and I suspect that Bob took a quick nap inside. He did lots of driving today. Dark clouds rolled in from over the mountains, but we got no rain. Bob came out with cocktails for us to enjoy before dinner and sat with us. He grilled hamburgers and Auggie got more of his chicken and rice. Then we took our walk as the sun was setting. We’ll take on another trail tomorrow and see what new things we can discover. What a great day we had today! (The All Trails app recorded that we burned 99 calories today just sitting in the Jeep. How crazy is that?)

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