We’ll leave the Valley and travel north, on our way to enjoy lunch on self at Cameron Trading Post. After lunch it’s back in the Transits headed for Bluff, Utah’s newest hotel, Bluff Dwellings Resort & Spa. Nestled into majestic sandstone cliffs, Bluff Dwellings’ 16-acre property borders the initial Bears Ears National Monument—offering sweeping views and room to explore right from your door. We’ll check in and take some time for a refresh, before heading into town for a delicious meet & greet dinner and a glass of wine at Cottonwood Steakhouse, included.
We’ll grab breakfast on self at the hotel before heading for the Sand Island launch ramp. After taking a few minutes to secure our cameras and sunscreen in dry bags, and a brief introduction to rafting, we’ll begin this remarkable 8 hour, 26-mile journey. The San Juan river, often described as calm and congenial, offers a relaxing rafting experience in Southeastern Utah. This is a wonderful opportunity to explore the dramatic Goosenecks of the Lower San Juan, where rock formations can tower 1,000 feet overhead. We’ll visit Native American ruins; view bighorn sheep grazing along the shore and truly experience a red rock labyrinth that is one of the most complex canyons in the Colorado Plateau. This was once the home of the Anasazi, a desert farming culture who lived in this area centuries ago. Evidence of their time here is everywhere, with remains of their dwellings and the art that they carved in the rising sandstone walls. The Butler Wash petroglyph panel will be our first stop. Just a few feet from the river’s edge, this broad panel is filled with mysterious images carved by early Anasazi—the Basketmakers—some 1500 years ago. Further down the river, we’ll land again and walk an easy quarter mile to “River House,” a Pueblo III style cliff dwelling. With a small round kiva and several adjoining rooms tucked into a rock alcove, this structure is believed to be about 800 years old. Later we’ll continue down the river to a shady spot under a canopy of cottonwoods, to enjoy a delicious gourmet lunch. The journey continues, as the rock formations begin to take prominence when the river enters the Monument Upwarp, a giant wrinkle in the skin of the earth. As we near the end of our trip the river leaves the canyon and we pass beneath the balanced slab of “Mexican Hat” rock, where vans will be waiting to shuttle us back to Bluff. Dinner is on self this evening, and later we’ll enjoy a free evening.
We’ll enjoy breakfast on self at the hotel, before setting off on our exploration of some of Utah’s most famous rock formations and viewpoints. We’ll journey south to the Muley Point Overlook, said to be the most spectacular viewpoint in all of Utah! Let me repeat that—ALL OF UTAH! Standing in one spot, you see the San Juan River carving goosenecks through the canyon below, the backside of Monument Valley to the southwest and the edge of the Valley of the Gods to the east. Muley Point is San Juan County’s most hidden gem, offering one of the most commanding views in all of Canyon Country. This is a bucket list journey for photographers. Later we’ll travel to Monument Valley, a 30,000 acre Navajo Tribal Park on the border of Utah and Arizona. We’ll stop by the visitor’s center and enjoy a box lunch, included, before beginning our breath-taking drive between East and West Mittens, Elephant Butte, The Three Sisters and Rain God Mesa. If it all looks familiar, it’s because you’ve seen these red rock cathedrals in a hundred classic westerns. To experience them in real-time is heart stopping. Later we’ll return to our hotel for a refresh before heading out to enjoy dinner on self.
Breakfast is on self, then it’s bags out and we’re off to enjoy an incredibly scenic drive through the Hopi and Navajo Nations, on into Winslow. We’ll visit La Posada Hotel, the last great railroad hotel, built in 1929 by the Santa Fe Railway for the Fred Harvey Company. We’ll take some time to explore the hotel—a remarkable tour unto itself—and we’ll enjoy lunch on self at the award-winning Turquoise Room. After lunch we’ll hightail it for the Valley with plenty of great sightseeing along the way. This is going to be an incredible tour! Don’t miss it!