Whenever Tom and I venture into a new area, we like to ask the locals what we should be sure to see or do. We get a variety of interesting answers and then we check out the ones that interest us. One of the highly recommended places to visit in southeastern Utah is Goosenecks State Park.
Goosenecks State Park is an odd little park. It is just a small area on the rim of the canyon overlooking a section of the San Juan River. You pay a $5 entry fee to stand at the overlook. No trails, nothing to do but look at the view. But the view is definitely worth $5!
The Goosenecks overlook is perched 1,000 feet above the San Juan River. Here the river makes a double horseshoe turn – or maybe triple. Two horseshoes connected by a third at the intersection. Difficult to explain and even tougher to fit into a picture unless you are airborne. Definitely an impressive entrenched river meander. Over the course of 300 million years, the river has been carving its way through rock in this canyon.
In the 1890’s gold prospectors in the area built a trail down into the canyon. It descends the 1,000 feet along steep cliffs over 2.5 miles. This trail is not part of Goosenecks State Park and you won’t find me on it. Too steep, too deep, too dizzy! But gorgeous and awesome from the overlook.
On our way back to the campground after visiting Goosenecks, we stopped by the Sand Island Petroglyphs. The Sand Island panel is an impressive rock wall that stretches more than 100 yards, and is covered with ancient Puebloan markings estimated to be about 1,000 years old. It sits just above the Sand Island Campground, a well-marked BLM site on the banks of the San Juan River just southwest of Bluff. The panel is protected by a fence and is accessed by a short trail.
Images on the panel span the whole time humans were known to inhabit the Four Corners: ancient Puebloans, Utes, Navajos, pioneers, and even recent graffiti. Although there are a lot of images, we did not find this to be one of the more impressive petroglyph sites. It is, however, easy to access, and in a beautiful location next to the San Juan River.
When we visit an area, we try to see as much as possible. Goosenecks State Park and the Sand Island Petroyglyphs are two sites worth visiting if you are near the Four Corners area or Bluff, Utah.