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CR258  Radium King Road s(u)

Sometimes elevation profiles contain so much noise, it's hard to tell where the ups and downs are. And at other times there are so many small rollercoaster dips and rises, that the elevation profile looks like it contains too much noise. The one below is one of the latter. It may take substantially more effort to ride this track than one might suspect just from the difference between low and high points.

This is a grand tour of the Chinle formation. As the name of the road suggests (which is not found on local road signs, but appears in Gazetteer maps), this formation is the prime source of radioactive minerals in the Utah grand geologic catalog. As the formation tilts upwards, so does the road, but not without taking in every turn on every edge of the north side of Red Canyon, and not without leading over every outcrop of Chinle it can find. Sand on the route is often a function of the rocks the track goes through. There is little, if any sand on the whole route, save for the occasional dry wash crossing.


click on profile for more detail
1.(4480ft,mile00) START-END WEST: jct CR259 Red Canyon Road - CR258 Radium King Road
2.(5560ft,mile11) road improves into a mine access road
4.(6210ft,mile16) TOP
4.(5310ft,mile23) START-END EASTl Frye, jct CR258 Radium King Road - Ut95. Profile turns right
5.(5240ft,mile23) START-END EAST ALT: Ut95 crosses Frye Canyon

Approaches

From West. To the best of my knowledge the only option is to approach the starting point of the profile from above, that is by going down Ut276 towards Glen Canyon, then taking a right onto dirt road CR259 Red Canyon Road. Following the latter down canyon to its junction with CR258 is every bit as scenic and interesting as the summit that starts from there. This stretch down Red Canyon Road may seem much longer than estimated on the map, due to the road following every twist and turn of the canyon. I thought I had missed the turnoff for sure, when I saw an elegantly understated plastic rod sticking out of the red dirt, on it a single small number, the customary San Juan county road sign. You have to look closely to see the CR258 part.


A steeply climbing track seems to hop over every lump of the Chinle formation it can get its road bed on. Already at the first mine the road has made up all of the elevation drop that CR259 lost to get from its rim to the bottom of the canyon. From here on the elevation of the Chinle formation determines the elevation of the road, as the road always heads for the next major outcrop. Eventually the roller coaster double track meets an open functioning mine, and the road becomes a modern mine access road. I didn't see any trucks, but the road bed is hard medalled and as smooth as it gets, making progress much faster from here on. Even though the profile indicates a last steep climb to the planar mesa summit, this is actually accomplished much faster than the previous miniature roller coaster climbs, that don't really show up on the profile. At the top the view shed changes to more red canyons to the north.





 

From South. (described downwards) The first thing I noticed in the new view shed was how close the landmark "Bears Ears" were. I was actually not that far from where I had started the ride at the jct between Ut276 and Ut95, but the descent would take me further away from that point again. Down in the valley stands a pole of a monument. From up here pillow like sandstone slabs make an interesting foreground. The road contours along a regular series of mesas, named the "tables of the sun". These were also part of the scenic menu as backdrop, while coming down CR259. But instead the twisting road takes us to the the valley in the north, and CR259 dives down to it with a few curves. Now heading towards the north-west, a fast road, straight as an arrow, leads to the intersection with Ut95 in a place named Frye. I am not exactly sure what the name Frye designates, either a trailer park or a trailer storage facility. Nearby is also a closed business of some kind. Looking for this intersection, while travelling on Ut259, CR259 appears like a driveway to this closed business. The profile turns right and ends at a low point where Ut95 crosses Frye Canyon. There is more substantial down hill in the other direction of Ut259 towards Hite.




Dayrides with this point as highest summit

CR258 Radium King Rd s(u) , jct Ut95 - Ut276(sh) : jct Ut95 - Ut276 > down/west on Ut276 > down/north on CR259 Red Canyon Rd > CR258 Radium King Rd s(u) > Frye > east on Ut95 > back to jct Ut95 - Ut276(sh): 61.0miles with 4412ft of climbing in 5:16hours. (VDO MC1.0 m3:11.10.21).










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