Four hours south and east of Salt Lake City is Green River, Utah. Named after this major tributary of the Colorado River, Green River’s history can be traced to the early 1820-1850 Old Spanish Trail trade route’s river crossing at this location in the river. A ferry was originally used to transport people and commerce but by 1883 the Denver and Rio Grand Western railroad used this location as a fueling and watering station. This boom in town growth lasted until the 1890’s when the railroad moved a large portion of its operations. The town shrank until the 1940-1960’s when rich uranium deposits were mined and in 1964 the US Air Force established the Green River Launch complex to test Athena nuclear missles.
Today Green River’s location on the River at an Interstate 70 exit serves as a tourist stopover for mountain biking and river running on the Green River. A large natural gas field was discovered in the area and the town is a renowned melon growing region.
Green River State Park was our home for our 2 day stopover. This park is located on the Banks of the Green River and includes a well maintained golf course adding to the beauty of the park.
A highlight of this stop was a visit to the John Wesley Powell River History Museum. On May 29, 1869, Major John Wesley Powell began the last great exploration of unknown territory in what later became the continental United States. Powell was a civil war veteran with a profound interest in botany, geology, and biology.
Major Powell’s party embarked on their journey down the Green River from a small island in the town of Green River, Wyoming, near what today is called Expedition Island. Ten men manned four awkward, wooden boats not really suited for the long trip or the white water rapids to follow. Early accidents robbed the group of equipment and provisions. The explorers made their way down the Green past Flaming Gorge, which they named, to the confluence with the Colorado and into the Grand Canyon.
Prior to the start of our RV adventure I’d read Down the Great Unknown: John Wesley Powell’s 1869 Journey of Discovery and Tragedy Through the Grand Canyon by Edward Dolnick.
I recommend the read and the Museumn did a wonderful job chronicling this history as well as the history of those who followed Powell’s route up to current day rafters who trace the same treacherous route.
The home of the Mormon faith. We had limited time and after checking in at the KOA we rode mass transit into downtown. Temple Square hosts the 35 acre campus of the Mormon faith and adjacent structures including the home and office of Brigham Young.
Our route from Wells, Nevada to Salt Lake City would take us along Interstate through Bonneville Salt Flats.
We’ve come to appreciate a slow pace…..from 3-5 days per stay to a week or more per stay. This allows us to get to know an area and meet locals who are often the best source of history and “fun” things to do.
To meet our friends in Colorado we needed to cover some miles from M dford, Oregon to Carbondale, Colorado. This meant one night per day’s travel. We planned about 150-200 miles per day or 3-5 hours/day on the road.
Day 1 out of Medford had taken us to Lakeview, Oregon and day 2 to Winnemucca, Nevada and Day 3 to Wells, Nevada.
From Wells, Nevada our next stop on Day 4 would be Salt Lake City.
After having a chance to view the lake from the Rim Drive we were excited to get out on the water and see the lake from “below” the Rim. We got a early start because our lake tour required we return approximately half way around the Rim to the Cleetwood Cove Trail, the only legal access to th shore of Crater Lake and the site of the Park Services lake tour launch facility. The trail is a 1.1 mile, 11% grade with numerous switchbacks.
The video below is a bit long at 8 minutes since it includes much of a Ranger Dave’s presentation on the history and geology of Crater Lake.
We were thrilled to finally get a chance to visit Crater Lake National Park. Karen had a brief visit on a prior trip to the area but I had never seen it. We decided to overnight in a Park cabin so we’d have more than on day to explore. We arrived after lunch and spent most of our first day taking the 33 mile Rim Drive which circumnavigates the Lake.
After we checked in to the cabin we heads back up to Crater Lake Lodge for dinner. Like each of the National Park lodges we had visited the architecture harkens back to a grand era of US National Park history. Dinner was a fabulous change of pace from Oregon seafood with each of us choosing a delicious Oregon grass fed steak!
Here are the highlights of day 1.
We’ve seen the mouth of the Rogue in Gold Beach, run the Rogue and now we had to explore the Gorge of the Rogue near its headwaters on our way to Crater Lake.