Sunset panorama of view from Hite Overlook, Utah.

Hanksville to Hite

Painted desert type rock layers, Utah Hwy. 24 north of Hanksville, Utah.

“Painted desert” type sedimentary layers, Hwy. 24, just south of I-70.

A recent drive from Interstate 70 to Hite, Utah featured such an amazing variety of scenery that I decided to share it in this blog post.

Leaving Interstate 70 about 10 miles west of Green River, exiting south onto Highway 24 brought me past these “painted desert” type of sedimentary rock layers eroding away in all their glory.

Eroding cliffs of Entrada Sandstone along Utah Hwy. 24.

Lumpy brown Entrada Sandstone rock layers along Hwy. 24 north of Hanksville.

It’s about 50 miles from I-70 to Hanksville, the tiny town that has the only services for a long ways in any direction. Along the way you pass Goblin Valley State Park, but without visiting the park you can see some of the lumpy layered brown rock formations that the park was created for.

Not long after that you get your first view of the Henry Mountains, which form the backdrop to Hanksville.

Henry Mountains and Entrada Sandstone hoodoos, Hwy. 24, north of Hanksville, UT

The Henry Mountains from Hwy. 24 north of Hanksville, Utah.

After pausing in Hanksville for a burger at Stan’s Burger Shak, it was then south on Hwy. 95, the road down North Wash to the Hite Crossing at the Colorado River.

There can be a lot of cows on or near to the highway to watch out for, because they don’t pay cars any mind. International visitors to the area are frequently puzzled–to put it lightly–over our vast areas without fences to keep livestock off the highways. Open Range.

Open Range "cows on highway" marquee sign and Henry Mountains, Hwy. 95 south of Hanksville, Utah.

“Cows on Highway” marquee, Hwy. 95 south of Hanksville. At least they warn you.

This starkly beautiful landscape contained one of the main hideouts of the outlaw Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch.

Crossing some more lovely, wide open high desert, the highway starts meeting red sandstone on either side. This is the upper end of North Wash, one of the few approaches to the Colorado River gorge in Glen Canyon that was gentle enough to construct a highway.

Cottonwood tree and red sandstone, North Wash, Hwy. 95, Utah.

Lone cottonwood tree and red sandstone, upper North Wash.

The red canyon walls quickly rise higher and higher. The late afternoon sunlight and shadows were intriguing.

Sunlight and shadows, red sandstone, North Wash, Hwy. 95, Utah.

Afternoon sunlight and shadow, North Wash.

Desert varnish steaks on red sandstone cliffs, North Wash, Utah.

Desert varnish streaks down the cliff, North Wash.

Sheer sandstone cliff faces are excellent canvases for desert varnish, which forms where the water runs down the cliff. A mixture of minerals, algae and lichens (something like that, even today the exact process is poorly understood), the darker it is the older it is. So the black stripes there are probably on the order of a couple hundred years old. Something like that.

Desert varnish, North Wash, Utah.

Desert varnish, the black stripes even appear to have lichen growing on the surface.

Regardless of what is going on there, exactly, it’s beautiful.


Erosion is the Earth falling apart. Beautifully, when it’s natural.

Finally it was time to stop once again at the Hite Overlook, at close to sunset time. The Colorado River and the Highway 95 bridge at Narrow Canyon. The surface of the muddy Colorado reflecting the blue sky.

Sunset panorama of view from Hite Overlook, Utah.

Colorado River and Highway 95 bridge, from Hite Overlook.

Highway 95 bridge over Colorado River at Hite Crossing, Utah.

Utah Highway 95 bridge over Narrow Canyon of the Colorado River in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

© Copyright 2016 Stephen J. Krieg



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