Rodeo, New Mexico
December 12, 2006
Rain, rain… October 2006: Rain accompanied us into red rock country as we drove southeast from Salt Lake City. Glancing at the soggy desert floor, we knew our 27,000 pound loaded motor home would bog down like an elephant in the muck if we attempted the dirt road and flooded wash entering Big Mesa, so we dallied roadside on an asphalt pullout for a couple of days, waiting for the storm to pass.
After a full day of sun, we pulled in our slide-outs and took off on Seven-Mile Canyon Road to Big Mesa. The wash was squishy-wet and uneven, but Bob made it through (with me behind in the car) without getting stuck. So began our long-anticipated time on Big Mesa.
BLM casually runs this primitive camping area sans host or fees, but campsites are designated and certain areas off-limits, indicated by signs. Some prefer the sites viewing Arches and the LaSal Mountains southeast, but we chose a site on the bluff facing west. We overlook the red muddy wash, dirt road continuing on to more remote camping spots, and sandy-and-red colored rock formations of pleasing and unusual shapes, prefaces to the San Rafael Reef and Swell, further west.
Our east view was of Big Mesa itself, and it is BIG, dwarfing Monitor and Merrimac Buttes, which are actually separate fractured pieces of the mother mesa. Big Mesa also proves to be endlessly entertaining, from afar and up close. The play of sunlight and clouds change its color and character from dawn to dusk. When more storms come, its face streams with impromptu rivulets and instant waterfalls.
Big Mesa is a mecca for four-wheeler ATV’s, and on the roads and slickrock, it’s easy to walk up close to it and climb up a ways. Holiday weekends are to be avoided, unless you like hordes of people on their motorized beasties. It was peaceful and quiet during our ten days there.
An extra treat for us was the discovery of ancient cliff-dwellings hugging the undersides of the bluff atop which we were camped. A ranger at Arches said she hadn’t heard of cliff dwellings at Big Mesa specifically, but wouldn’t be surprised, because "they’re all over the place".
From journal Magical Arches in the Rain