Doing an overnighter at the Comb Wash Campground presents an opportunity to get an early start on a full day of exploring Bears Ears National Monument. It can take a few weeks to experience all of the famous points of interest on Cedar Mesa alone, because quite a bit of hiking will be involved when visiting the individual sites. The ancient pueblo structures in the Fish & Owl Canyons are a good example, because a visitor will need to do a long hike over rough terrain just to get there. A fairly lengthy ride over a bumpy dirt road is also necessary just to get to the trailhead, so the Fish & Owl Canyon trek is guaranteed to be a strenuous adventure. Having the Comb Wash Campground nearby does help the cause and it is easy to see why getting an early start is important for this destination.
For those who are already worn out from hiking the many trails in Bears Ears, camping in the peaceful Comb Wash is like a sigh of relief! This is a great place to rest the aching feet and when boredom arises, the South Comb Was Road is a nice choice for an easy going Jeep trail tour. The early morning hours are best for touring this dirt road, because the Comb Ridge is just a few hundreds yards east of this trail and the towering cliffs shield the glare of the sun. This road follows the creek south, so there are pockets of lush greenery on the west side of the road. This all has the makings of being a premium early morning wildlife viewing area, so be sure to bring a good camera along for the ride!
Going slow is the way to go when touring a dirt road in the early morning hours, because this is when reptiles rest on the bare ground to warm up in the sunlight, especially when the nights are chilly during the autumn season. The Gopher Snake in the photos is a good example of what can be spotted lying on the road in the morning. This harmless snake actually was so cold that it could not move if it wanted to. By driving slow it was easy to spot and avoid with the vehicle, which also presented a good photo opportunity.
South Comb Wash Road most definitely was my own rest and recovery venture after doing two long hikes the day before. The towering Comb Ridge certainly is an interesting geological wonder to marvel over and there are many subtleties that will be noticed in this desert microenvironment. Driving real slow and quiet is the best way to spot early morning wildlife in this area and there is plenty to be seen along the creek bed. For those who are ready for another long hike, the Fish & Owl Trailhead awaits at the end of the line. If something easy to do is the top priority instead, then taking a slow ride down South Comb Wash Road will be the natural choice!
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