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1949 Trip Into Escalante from National Geographic

• CATEGORIES: Features, Magazine

UPDATE: Many folks probably haven’t seen this older post …


UPDATED January 20, 2014: Here’s a jeep trip in 1955 that was undertaken after one of the trip’s members read the below article in National Geographic.


Originally Posted October 23, 2013: 


This spot is now a couple hundred feet under water. Learn more about the Crossing of the Fathers here:

In 1949 a joint expedition between the National Geographic Society and New York Explorers Club decided to be the first explorers, by vehicle, to enter the Escalante area of Utah. Accompanying the explorers were two jeeps and, fortunately for us, cameras. Their story, “The First Motor Sortie into Escalante Land”, appeared in the September 1949 issue (pages 169-204).

You can find a variety of inexpensive issues of the September 1949 National Geographic Magazine on eBay. If you are a fan of Southern Utah, this is a neat article.

For the first part of the trip, which began in Cannonville, Utah, the explorers traveled along part of the Cottonwood Road route we drove this past March. Their first big find was the arch we now know as the Grovesnor Arch, which the explorers officially named after the President of the National Geographic Society. What surprised me was that there are pictures showing the group on top of the arch with flags as if they’d conquered the moon. To be fair, I imagine it was a pretty challenging climb.


Note the explorers at the top of the Grosvenor arch.

From there, the party headed south as far as the Colorado River to an area now flooded by Lake Powell. So, some of the areas in the photos are no longer possible to see.

Below are only the photos that include the red and yellow CJ-2As that accompanied the explorers:

Scan10004-lineup-of-cars-lores Scan10013-jeep-in-river-lores

Scan10017-jeep-and-car Scan10019-2-jeeps-pinnacle Scan10022-jeep-in-canyon-lores Scan10023-2-photos-jeep-in-canyon-lores Scan10033-cj2a-lores


7 Comments on “1949 Trip Into Escalante from National Geographic

  1. slowfun

    My favorite things ….. vintage Jeeps…… green Chevrolet pickup just like my old one…….and a great woody Pontiac? Oldsmobile?……all in one beautiful Utah setting. If only I owned a “take me back” time machine

  2. Steven Hendryx

    The yellow Jeep belogned to my father, Burnett Hendryx, and my Grandfather, Allen Cameron (owner of the Cameron Hotel in Panguitch Utah). Dad escorted this Nat Geo expedition, led by Jack Breed, into Utah’s at that time largely unexplored Escalante River area. Dad subsequently escorted two other Nat Geo expeditions into Southern Utah, including Coyote Gulch and Canyonlands in the 1950s. Dad was an avid photographer (preferred Kodachrome slides). The family still has a treasure trove of slides of Southern Utah from the 1950s.

  3. David Eilers

    Hi Steven,

    Thanks so much for sharing that information. It’s always fun to hear details about these trips.
    I haven’t found any information yet on the other two Nat Geo expeditions. Knowing they existed, I’ll see if I can find more info.

    If you ever get a few of the slides developed, I’d enjoy sharing them with readers. I lived in a Utah for a decade and spent a good amount of time exploring southern Utah.

    – Dave

  4. John North Willys

    i have this issue – notice the correct orange color of the yellow jeeps wheels ? , my 48 willys truck had the exact same color , with the pinstripes , the truck body was potomac gray .. cheers ..

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