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A personal blog of photography and commentary by Andrew McAllister.

In Southern Utah on the way to Moab from SLC there is a stretch of lonely lumps that the highway passes. Interesting little piles of earth away from the Book Cliffs out in the middle of nowhere. Usually one passes them by at a high rate of speed for they are on I-70 between Green River and Crescent Junction and if you are going to Moab, well you are almost there, why stop. Same can be said of the return north from Moab, we just started the drive and have hours to go, why stop. Recently I had the opportunity to make the drive to Moab by myself and managed to make the 4 hour trip last 8 hours due to lots of stopping and looking around. Well worth it if you are so inclined. On a map the area pictured is called Floy. It’s not a small town or a ghost town it is a “no town” sometimes known as a Ranch Exit (no services).

The classic clichĂ© photograph of the open road is one I’ll never tire of. Should you take the ranch exit at Floy this is the road you will be traveling on as you go west to Green River. After a few miles of rough road you will wonder why you are taking slow a desolate alternate route when a much smoother and nice road is just a mile to the South. For starters you can stop just about anywhere. The time I spent out there the only other vehicles I saw were a pair of adventure motorcyclist. Stop and look around, take pictures, think about stuff, look for animals, whatever. When these pictures were taken it was pushing 100 degrees and the place was like an oven. Sunscreen, wide brim hat and long sleeve linen shirt are all recommended. In the 30 minutes or so that I was out in the sun my aluminum tripod legs and camera became hot to the touch and I downed a liter of water. This two lane road with minimal upkeep reminded me of being a youth in the 1970’s and traveling great distances in a VW Bug with the windows down, arm hanging out and hot as heck. Traveling in the air-conditioned and window tinted vehicles of today sometimes feels like cheating. I can imagine what it was like traveling these roads in an old Packard or other late 40’s car would have been like. I have nothing against the modern highways but it is the roads less traveled (paved or dirt) that are the most enjoyable for me.

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  1. September 15, 2012

    Breathtaking!

  2. September 15, 2012

    Great phots and nice story anout “stopping”!

  3. September 15, 2012

    Stunning! The “piles of earth” in the first picture looks almost like a loosely folded, soft blanket, or maybe the skin of an elephant … ?

    • Andrew McAllister #
      September 15, 2012

      Glad you like it.

  4. September 15, 2012

    I really enjoyed this post. I love exploring open, desolate country like that and I felt like I was there!

  5. September 15, 2012

    I like the landscapes in Utah, and your photos here are great.
    and I like to drive alone sometimes – with my camera ;-) – just the way you did here!!!

    • Andrew McAllister #
      September 15, 2012

      camera’s make great traveling companions and are a good excuse to leave the house in the first place.

  6. September 15, 2012

    One of my favorite quotes seems apros pro here:
    Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything. -Charles Kuralt
    I remember doing trips in the VW bug back in the late 60s and 70s. It made the trip an adventure. Or as an ad I’ve seen recently…. the journey is the destination.
    You’ve definitely captured the Utah I remember so well.

    • Andrew McAllister #
      September 16, 2012

      Thanks. Yes traveling back then was a bit different. I’m barely old enough to remember stopping at diners and all the big Holiday Inn signs.

      • September 16, 2012

        I was doing the trips in the VW solo back then…. couldn’t afford the Holiday Inns. Mostly curled up in the back with the dog, or camped out.
        Still hoping to see you do a trip up to Eureka some day. Mostly I’m just curious to see if it’s still hanging on these days. Might not want to do it in the winter though.

  7. September 15, 2012

    A fine stretch of road and it sounds like a great day in the desert:)

    • Andrew McAllister #
      September 15, 2012

      Yes it was. I’ll be posting more pics and observations from one of favorite spots in Utah. Stay tuned.

  8. September 16, 2012

    The road calls out to me daily. Loved the photos and story. Thanks!

  9. September 16, 2012

    Great work, Andrew. Really shows the desolation and harshness of the place.

    • Andrew McAllister #
      September 16, 2012

      There are so many great places to stop along the road in the West. The hardest part is forcing yourself to stop and “smell the roses”.

  10. September 17, 2012

    beautiful landscape! :)

  11. October 1, 2012

    Your second picture is the epitome of desolation, highlighted by the cracking macadam.
    I have that same ability to turn a 4-hour trip into an 8-hour one, or – like I did yesterday – a 2-hour trip into 6-hour one ;) Definitely worth the stops!

  12. josh deuto #
    February 17, 2013

    Andrew, My friends and I spend alot of time in this region – been on that road many times, wondered about the history of Floy (other than then the railroad siding and switch station that it currently is). I am heading that way with my sons for our annual father/sons trip to the desert and am going to poke around some more to see if i can find anything (ruins/remnants/etc.) We’ll see? …Gotta love a desert mystery.

    • Andrew McAllister #
      February 17, 2013

      All I found were sone rusty cans buried in mud. I was out there last week (2/2013) and shot some new pictures. Just love all the odd lumps and distant view. Have fun with your boys. I’ll post new images in the coming weeks.

      • josh deuto #
        February 17, 2013

        Cool – We have a campsite we use below/between horse and hatch mesas, usually as our initial stop before we head into the san rafael basin – again for all manner of exploration and solitude. My buddy, Kevin Lange, is an accomplished photographer and has spent time out there with me – and has come up with some great images of the area as well. I think the most striking thing about the beuty of that region (vs. say, the national parks near there) is the starkness and minutae.

      • Andrew McAllister #
        February 17, 2013

        I need to spend time camping in that area. Have you seen the housing projects at Hatch Mesa? A lot of work going on now where they are building out from the rock. My last trip down there I did not make it to either park but spent all my time in the other areas. Though the parks are beautiful, like you I prefer the areas around the parks. The greater canyonlands and san rafael areas provide a lifetime of exploration. I’m glad I live a few hours drive from such splendor.

  13. josh deuto #
    February 17, 2013

    housing development at hatch mesa? same hatch mesa as is just north and slightly west of Floy? Which side of the mesa?

    • Andrew McAllister #
      February 17, 2013

      Sorry, Hatch rock near Hatch Wash south of Moab and West of La Sal Junction. I don’t know all the mesa names around Floy yet.

      • josh deuto #
        February 17, 2013

        Oh, OK! Funny, I got all ‘atwitter’ thinking hat there was development going on near our Floy. It didn’t make sense given the BLM status, etc. Yeah, i’m not surprised in growth near Moab – it’s inevitable. Thanks for the clarification. BTW, the two main ‘butte’ features above the Floy exit to the north carry those names. Enjoy your desert time!

      • Andrew McAllister #
        February 17, 2013

        http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2012/11/polygamists-in-the-rock/100406/#

        The Rock houses I was talking about. No surprise as to who lives there.

      • Joshua Deuto #
        February 17, 2013

        It takes a village? uh, all for one, one for all? My father, your father? …thats all i got. :)

  14. December 14, 2013

    These mountains look like draped objects. So fluid. Thanks for sharing!

  15. May 2, 2014

    Wonderful. I spent endless hours on these roads as a kid. Just as I remember, minus a few pot holes.

  16. Pam R. #
    August 5, 2014

    Have you ever explored the doors in the blueish rock on Hwy 191 going south? They are across the railroad tracks and before you reach the road leading back to Canyonlands north. Wasn’t sure if they were entrances to mines, but they had no barriers in front of them. If you have any info on these doors, I would be interested. Thanks much. Oh, loved the photos of “Floy”.

    • Andrew McAllister #
      August 6, 2014

      Not sure what those are for. To me it looks like some sort of shelter but if its for people or equipment is beyond me. If nothing else they are a conversation starter in the car.

  17. Happy luau #
    May 19, 2018

    Enjoyed your blog as we googled floy on 70. You answered all our questions in a very poetic way. Thanks. Happy travels!

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