Shady site with hookups and good spacing from others
What an unexpectedly pleasant place! We had passed through the town back near the start of our trip. We got gas and groceries and left solidly unimpressed. I knew I had the place reserved for the future, but honestly, in the back of my mind, I was thinking I might cancel. It is situated in a very convenient location though, so I just figured it would be a meh one night stand. Glad to be so wrong!
Intense rains off to our right
After we left Black Canyon of the Gunnison, we hit the major highways. Interstate 70 would be our friend for the next two stops and there is an abundance of not much of anything on this leg. We noted a pretty serious thunderstorm off to the north as we were driving. It was far enough away that we weren’t worried about getting caught in it, but man, the mountains above Green River were getting hammered.
We pulled in to the campground and got the AC going right away. It wasn’t too hot, probably approaching 90, but we were glad to have electric hookups. We were feeling a bit low coming off our last new-to-us national park for this trip, so I did some Googling and found there was a road that tracked the river, ending in something called “Nefertiti.” I was intrigued and we had some time to kill while the AC got into its groove, so we went for a drive.
So many people say not to do this…
Not too far along on the quest, we came to a major dip in the road. This was clearly an intentional flood wash but when we arrived, it looked more like a full fledged river. The water was running really fast and strong across the road and I figured that ended the quest right there. We stopped and got out of the car to just watch it from a safe distance when two other vehicles pulled up. Turns out they both work for rafting companies and they felt obligated to attempt the crossing because it was their job. I figured I was about to get some shocking pictures and YouTube video footage of why you should never attempt flash flood crossings. The guys were trying to be careful by first walking out, testing with their feet, to make sure the road was still there underneath. But the driver was understandably concerned about having the trailer get swept away. I was like “Yeah, exactly,” but he was undaunted and unstoppable. I was just there to document. I had no idea what I would do if anyone got swept away, short of driving back toward town to get enough cell service to call 911.
I really thought this car was going to be toast.
Slowly the pickup forded the river and didn’t even seem to struggle. Out came the trailer with no wavering to be seen. There were whoops of triumph and the van driver then had the courage to do it too. Off they drove, disappearing down the road while we did risk assessment calculations in our heads. No matter how we ran the numbers, the output came out “stupid and unnecessary” every time. Then another couple of cars came and crossed as we watched anxiously. Every one of them made it, with cars of lesser beefiness than ours, we thought. Still nope. And so we left to see if there was another way to get down to the river.
By the time we tried it, it was barely an inconvenience.
Failing that, we eventually drove back to take another look and the water levels had calmed considerably. We were pretty sure we’d seen the storm that had caused the flood upstream and it had moved on. There weren’t any other rainy looking clouds in the sky. So we went for it. And it was no problem at all. I think that sums up a lot of life for us. We do a lot of risk assessment, look on with consternation as we try to determine the most reasonable course of action, can’t quite unhook from wanting to take the leap, and when we finally just go for it, it’s no big deal and we wonder why we were so worried. The things that clobber us are the things we never thought to worry about.
A picture perfect oasis
In any case, once we were across, we enjoyed a really nice drive out to something called Swasey’s Beach. This is an absolutely beautiful little oasis with an expansive, sandy beach right on the river. There is a boat launch, restrooms, and a small primitive campground. From there the road continues unpaved another eight miles to get to “Nefertiti.” At this point though, it was getting late and we were hungry, so we called it a day.
Then we had to decide what to do the next day. We had only booked one night because we assumed we’d be bored. Our next location was a two night stay Fremont Indian, a place we’d already visited before, and it had no hookups. I kind of toyed with the idea of putting my boat in the water and floating downstream. Richard checked and our site was free the next night, so we took it.
Not so green anymore
The next day we returned to the wash road and it was practically devoid of water. There was a muddy bump, a few puddles, and lots of debris on the road, but no other evidence of what had been a rushing torrent just the day before. There was a lot more activity at the beach this time and we could see lots of rafting groups either putting in or taking out from the boat launch. We’d spoken to a rafting guide who gave us some intel on this part of the river and it sounded like most people do multi-day trips, starting a hundred miles up river, and ending either at Nefertiti or at Swasey’s. It would be a very calm float to put in at the beach and end up at Green River State Park, but also less scenic. Also, following the storm, the once greenish river was now chocolate brown from all the mud. I eyed the water and imagined spending the day trying really hard to think of it as chocolate brown, as opposed to any other kind of brown. I am not nearly as committed to boating as Richard is to biking, so I came away with a “nah.” Instead, I pushed to continue the off road drive because I was still curious about Nefertiti. Also, Richard could barely walk at this point following his Black Canyon hike, so he was kind of a captive passenger.
Yep. That is definitely Nefertiti.
It is becoming a thing that I like off roading more than Richard does. So this was not his favorite adventure. It was a long and bumpy eight miles for him with no reward of hidden cake at the end. I really loved it. It took us a while to look in the right direction to see the hoodoo that is the namesake. Once we saw it from the right angle, it was obvious. We also found the petroglyphs after just a little bit of searching and they are really cool. There are some of the best and clearest depictions of animals I think I’ve seen in petroglyph form. Well worth the trip out, even Richard will say so.
When we got back to town, we put Bruce through a fancy car wash, complete with colorful foamy stuff at the end. We were both surprised by how much we enjoyed this stop. Also, the food from the taco truck downtown is super delish. Appearances can be deceiving and it’s nice when that works in our favor.
Total miles: 176.8, 18.2 mpg. Site 34 hookups. Good dump, potable water. Nice place with a golf course nearby and a little pond behind the loop. We saw people fish there. Ice cream sandwiches can be purchased from the kiosk. LTE for both of us. Good place to get gas because there isn’t much else around there.