Chasing the Totality

Day Six: Echo Park

When we located our $28 campsite in Green River Campground, we could hardly believe our eyes. We drove around several times, unable to reconcile the pretty pictures on the website with this brush-filled parking spot surrounded by tightly-packed RVs on one side, and the highway and an abandoned ranger station on the other. There was no view of the river, no showers and no certainy no place to do laundry. So far our mantra for this trip has been, "When in doubt, drive!" And drive we did, out of the park, into the next state and up the eastern side of Dinosaur National Monument.

Echo Park Road takes off from Harpers Corner Road and immediately falls off a cliff known as "The Dugway", dropping 1500 feet via a series of tortuous hairpin curves between deep red sandstone walls. Ahead of us lay a wide, curved-floor canyon chopped raggedly on one edge by the Green and Yampa Rivers. And then the road dove a second time into Sand Canyon, which may be the most beautiful road we've ever driven. I hung out the window and tried to film it, but the video does not do justice to the majesty of the many-layed cliffs that rose on either side of us.
Past the outlet of Sand Canyon we pass the rather well-preserved remains of Chew Ranch. Jack and Mary Chew and their 12 children established this ranch in 1910, and their descendants ranched in the area until the 1970s. Whenever I come across a remote homestead like this, I wonder how they ever found this place, and what made them decide to settle here? The road is challenging enough in a 4WD high clearance vehicle. What was it like in a wagon with wooden wheels?
Another 500 feet takes us to the canyon floor and the campground at Echo Park. A mile above the campground, the Yampa joins the Green to make a hairpin turn around a 1000-foot tall sandstone fine known as "Steamboat Rock".
It was a glorious place to camp — but a terrible ham radio location!
Deer lounged casually around the campground, including this strapping young buck.
Nearby are a few more petroglyphs and these are quite different from any I'd seen before. Tiny drilled holes form of elaborate winged headdress, eyes, a mouth, earrings and a necklace.
Next: Rabbit Ears Pass