Boulder Mountain & Escalante

Ralph and Patsy, campground hosts at Singletree.

May 4
We learned just before we left Torrey that our favorite campground on Boulder Mountain, Singletree, had opened the day before. In fact, it is the only campground open on the mountain. We headed straight for it on Friday morning, and being only about 10 miles from Torrey, arrived early. We like it because there are quite a few very open sites that allow good sun exposure through most of the day. We were met by Ralph and Patsy Hillman, campground hosts, who had only arrived 2 days earlier themselves. Ralph and Patsy are full-timers for 7 years, traveling in their 5th wheel trailer. He has devised and patented a rotating frame for the 2 solar 120 watt panels atop his rig that automatically tilts and tracks the sun over the course of the day. The two panels power his bank of 6 wet cell batteries. Because of the tilt and the way it tracks the sun, the two panels are more than enough to keep the 6 batteries charged. He runs his air conditioner off this set-up. Ralph didn’t tell me what he charged for the system. He lost his investor and so is not currently able to manufacture the units. Something like this would be a great alternative to adding more panels and having to upgrade all the wiring and equipment. Here is a link to his website. I’m also adding his and Patsy’s images to my Nomads project.

Besides driving the mountain and looking at the spectacular views and aspen groves, all there really is to do here is hike a few trails. Most go up around 1-2,000 ft. There is one .5 mile trail that leaves right from the campground that leads to a really nice hidden waterfall – called Singletree Falls. It’s a pretty easy hike. Mostly downhill and a bit worn and slidy in places, but the waterfall is really nice. In the fall, when the sun is lower in the horizon, it streams through the trees across the water. A time exposure will fog the water as it falls and creates some really cool shadow casts over the water. This time of year the effect is less, but still worth the short hike.

May 5
In the morning, we drove the mountain for the views. The aspen are only just now beginning to leaf out, but the views are still quite amazing. The groves are so thick that even without leaves, some really nice compositions can be had. The views of surrounding landscape never fail to impress, and we spent most of the day traveling the 15 or so miles up on the mountain.

Which tree in in front? Left or Right.

May 6
I wanted to hike to the waterfall one more time before we left and was rewarded with something I hadn’t expected. Ice had formed on some of the branches where the waterfall had been splashing all night. It apparently got colder than I thought, because it was still there by 9 AM when I got there. It was tough to photograph, but cool to see.

We moved to the small RV park in the town of Boulder after I got back. I use the word park and town loosely – the park is comprised of 4 spaces with hook-ups next to a tiny old convenience store – which is pretty much the town. There are a few motels, and a couple of restaurants. Very short on ambience, but right in the middle of where we want to be for the day. Last year’s price was $18/night. This year it’s $25. For what you get, it is now right on the cusp of not being worth it. There seems to be a few places to dry camp out along the road to the Burr trail, but we preferred the hook-ups for the night.

Long Canyon

In the afternoon, we headed out to the Burr Trail/Long Canyon road that branches off Highway 12 right in Boulder. It is all paved now, until it drops off the mesa into the Waterpocket Fold area of Capitol Reef. Here it becomes gravel, but still is very drivable. We chose to only drive the paved portion, having done the rest on multiple occasions. The drive into Long Canyon is very nice, with lots of views of the yellow sandstone hills. As the road drops into Long Canyon, the hills become walls and transform into deep red, sheer cliffs of sandstone. We stopped at our favorite crevice. It has a huge Cottonwood tree at it’s mouth, and we can walk into the crevice about 50 yards. Couldn’t stay long though, because the gnats were voracious. They really love my scalp for some reason – I have about 6 new bites to scratch up there alone.There are plenty of places to pull over for views and photographs along the canyon. There is even a little 6-site BLM campground, but too small for our 26′ rig. We got to the end and stopped to admire the view before turning back.

View at the end of Long Canyon.

In the evening, we drove out to one of our favorite viewpoints on Highway 12. It overlooks a tremendous expanse of sandstone cliffs. There are several points on the roadway – the portion called Hells Backbone – that are so narrow and high, it can actually give you that queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach – about enough for 2 lanes of road and a small pullout on either side.

We intended to watch the moonrise from the viewpoint further on, but the sky didn’t cooperate, and we didn’t see it. Either clouds were obscuring it, or we got the time wrong. We did enjoy the very low light however. By 9 PM we decided to call it a night.

May 7
Today is Mary’s birthday! To celebrate officially, we went to breakfast at Hells Backbone Grill at Boulder Lodge. There are only a few places to eat around here, and this one seems to be the best. Mary had granola and homemade coffee cake, and I enjoyed some really fancy eggs, smashed sage potatoes and buffalo sausage. Ooooh the luxury! We are camped for the night at Broken Bow RV park for the night. We planned to camp at the nearby state park, but the day dawned cloudy and the park we knew was fairly treed over. The RV park has good Wifi so we could post and surf.

Outside the restaurant, we found several resident kitties. This one we refer to as “kitty in a planter”.

Tomorrow it’s on to Kodachrome Basin State Park for a couple of days.

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2 Responses to Boulder Mountain & Escalante

  1. Jim says:

    Happy Birthday Mary. As usual, great photos. I vote for the tree on the right.


    • Ohhh, so sorry! The tree on the LEFT is the one closest. Better luck next time. If I wasn’t there to take the shot, I’d have had problems too.

      Mary sends her thanks for the birthday wishes.

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