Scouting Along Utah's Green River
The Labyrinth Canyon region of Utah consists of rugged and rolling bench- lands cut by the winding, steep-walled sandstone canyons of the Green River and its branches. Along its 46-mile length, from Bull Bottom southward to Canyonlands National Park, the precipitous rock walls are embellished with alcoves, caves, and a variety of textures and rich colors. Spectacular scenery exists throughout this vast, remote, and geologically fascinating area. Roads built decades ago for uranium mining, petroleum exploration, and cattle ranching currently allow motorized and mechanized recreational users to reach secluded vistas and historical sites along the canyon rims and the shores of the river. There are exceptional opportunities for the four-wheel-drive enthusiast to enjoy solitude and travel on these primitive back- country roads.
However, as a result of their recent wilderness re-inventory, the Utah Bureau of Land Management seems intent on closing access to virtually all existing roads and trails in this region, except for a few suitable for automobiles. Particularly targeted for closure are those that lead to overlooks at the rim; the spectacular views would consequently be cut off to a large segment of the public.
Bob Telepak, Arne Gjerning, and myself, dubbed the Tres Amigos by the New Mexico 4-Wheelers, have made numerous trips to southeastern Utah. We are particularly fascinated with an area along the Green River known as Junes Bottom. Strips of land exist in several places adjacent to the river and the deep canyon walls, the largest of which the pioneers named bottoms.
The eastern Labyrinth Canyon area is accessible from Moab. To reach the overlooks of Junes Bottom, take Blue Hills Road west from U.S. 191 near the Moab airport to Levi Well Road, then turn left on Duma Point Road and head straight on the well-defined Ten-mile Point Road. Trin Alcove Point Road travels west from Ten-mile Point Road. Near the western end of Trin Alcove Point Road on a recent trip, we took a spur to the left and approached a slickrock climb. The route passes by a survey marker as it twists up the sandstone slope. Bob warned us that when we reached the top we had to make a hard left turn. Indeed, at the crest is a cliff with a 300-foot drop. Taking in the magnificent panoramas, our attention was drawn to obvious man-made rock work on the cliff walls on the far side. What we saw was a road that was built by June Marsing in the '30s. It leads into the canyon now known on maps as Junes Bottom. With binoculars, we observed how extensive his rock stacking and road stabilization project was. A steam boiler and the remnants of structures were also distinguishable.
The main road to Trin Alcove Point ends high on the slickrock at the narrow neck of a peninsula. The Green River surrounds it in a tight loop known as Trin Alcove Bend. From here, hikes can be taken to view the river at each side and out to the end of the point. Colorful agatized rocks litter the ground here. Many of the rock specimens are quite large, and the long hike back to the parked 4x4s ensures that few will be collected.