|First 5 miles are rather barren|
WOW!! I have to say this road is probably the most diverse drive that I have been on. Very unusual geological formations and terrain.
I had not expected to be able to get all the way through the canyon, so I did not notate the mileage very well but I still think my descriptions will be helpful to you.
I was staying in Page, Arizona and spoke to the Rangers at the Big Water, Utah BLM office where they have some interesting information about dinosaurs and the rock layers of the Grand Staircase. One Ranger there advised me against doing the Cottonwood Canyon road with a low clearance vehicle. The other said that it was possible but that the road was washed out and closed 15 miles in. I decided to go in a few miles and check it out for myself.
The turnoff of Highway 89 for Cottonwood Canyon (Rd.400) is around mile marker 18. There was a big sign at the beginning that said that the road was closed 15 miles ahead, I ventured ahead anyway.
The road started out with a few small hills, then was basically flat, barren & boring. It was just gray shale without a lot of vegetation. I was tempted to turn around but saw a small bit of green ahead where it looked like the road might drop down to be more of a canyon so I decided to go at least 5 miles. At around 5 miles I could see the Paria river and that the road dropped down, remained soft and smooth so I continued. I wasn’t overly impressed with the river, but there was a little change in scenery and I could see some interesting pink, red and white rocks further down the canyon, so I kept going.
At around 19 miles in, I found where the road had been washed out but I also found a local rancher who was about to drive through the ‘closed section’. There were no road blocks or anything at this point it was just muddy. I talked to the Rancher who told me that this 200 or so foot section was the only bad part of the road all the way to Cannonville. He thought I would be able to make it through this section if I used my 4WD and that if I didn’t he would pull me out with his truck. I pondered a moment then went for it and I am glad that I did! I think the most beautiful parts of the road were beyond this section.
|Washed out section|
There were some red, white and pinks on the road prior to this but the canyon becomes a little narrower and the rock formations just seem more dramatic. They were several hiking trials going forward, two at ‘the Narrows’ which appeared to be slot canyonish and being there was a chance of rain and I had not planned on coming this far and wasn’t sure how long it was going to take me to get back to Page, I did not explore them.
|Kinda looks like a tilted pizza!|
|Vertical white uplifts rt side, pink, white & reds on left|
|Funky! - Apparently called a Cockscomb Feature|
|Kind of a Bryce Canyon & Zion mix|
|Golda the Adventure Dog|
|Terrain change before you get to Kodachrome|
|Kodachrome State Park|
|Kodachrome State Park|
Overall, the Cottonwood Canyon road was very unique and I would do it again. The road was fine for a passenger cars as long as it is dry. I would not have attempted going through the washed out area of the road without 4 wheel drive and someone with a big truck and chains to pull me out present. I did this route in late April. I expect the road will dry out at some point and they will take down the signs. If you are on the north side near Cannonville, the road is worth the drive down towards the Narrows and where the washout occurs. I would definitely plan on making stops at Grosvenor Arch and Kodachrome State Park while in this area.