What is House Rock Valley Road: Info, Details, Tips, Part One
The famed and notorious House Rock Valley Road… This unassuming, unpaved 30 mile stretch between highways 89 and 89A connecting Southern Utah and Northern Arizona, doesn’t look like much on a map. Make no mistake – when the conditions are just right, even the thought of driving it strikes fear in the most seasoned guides and locals. And these are the folks with the best rigs and most experience. Impassable means impassable y’all. Read on to find out why this road, among the many gnarly roads in Utah and Arizona, has our respect.
Why HRVR you ask? Well it is THE main vein for access to several dozen of the increasingly sought trails and blow-your-mind geological features that the people of the world want to see. You may have one or all of the following on your bucket list or road trip itinerary: The Wave, White Pocket, Coyote Buttes South, Coyote Buttes North, Wire Pass, Buckskin Gulch, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Paria Plateau, Arizona Trail and many many MANY more.
Who’s coming to see and explore? Photographers, hikers, fastpackers, hippies, roadtrippers, fulltimers, boondockers, geologists, paleontologists, archeologists, anthropologists, meteorologists, astronomers, vacationers, filmmakers, first nations people, cyclists, ranchers, weekend warriors, philosophers, ultrarunners, digital nomads, honeymooners, bloggers, podcasters, content creators, off-road enthusiasts, Zane Grey enthusiasts, Edward Abbey enthusiasts, writers, birdwatchers, drone pilots, artists, actors, designers, novelists, dancers, moms, dads, grandparents, little kids, big kids, solotrekkers and well, usually all it takes is a glimpse of what’s out there and you catch the bug to see it for yourself.
How to Find House Rock Valley Road
Let’s be honest: the turn onto HRVR from the highway is very easy to miss. That’s why this road is described as unassuming. Heading from Kanab UT to Page AZ on highway 89, about 40 miles east, there is a small green sign on the right-hand side of the road that quietly announces the approach of House Rock Valley Road. It doesn’t have flashing neon that points you toward The Wave or any of the other epic places that folks are spending thousands of dollars on logistics and equipment to see. The understated sign is definitely disproportionate to the level of excitement and effort that goes into planning the adventure.
From the south end of HRVR, heading east from Jacob Lake AZ to Lees Ferry AZ, the turn off is even easier to miss. The turn is on your left-hand side, or north side of the highway. The sign is on the right, labeled BLM 1065. That’s it, nothing more. See? Easy to miss. There is however, a white stone house on the north side of the highway, it seems to appear out of nowhere alongside the long lonely stretch of 89A. That’s your landmark for where to turn. Slow way down, once off the highway you’ll immediately be in gravel.
What to Expect on House Rock Valley Road
Okay so now that you’ve found the road, why all the fuss around having the right vehicle? Why can’t my AWD or my minivan or the convertible I rented in Las Vegas make the trip? Well that depends. Somedays just about anybody can make it to at least a few of the trail heads for the popular destinations. Other days even the tried and true, top-notch overlanders will find themselves hopelessly stuck within a matter of miles.
Stuck has a special meaning on HRVR. More often than not, if you’re stuck out there, there won’t be enough cell phone service to search for the nearest tow truck company’s phone number or even connect the call for help. If you do happen to have service and can get through, there’s a good chance you’ll have a hard time describing your location to your rescuers. Just for fun, let’s say odds are in your favor. You find the number, you call for help and you know where you are – good luck getting anyone to come to the rescue. The tow companies know better than anyone, if an overlander can get stuck, you bet a tow-truck won’t be much help. More often than not, being stuck in even the best-case scenario means you’ll just have to wait for conditions to change. This very likely could mean overnight.
Oh and let’s not forget the cost of a tow that will likely take most of the day to first locate and then extract you – IF you can get someone to agree to come out. It’s not cheap and could easily ruin your vacation.