Castle Valley Comments
July 4, 2013
by Ron Drake
Jul 04, 2013 | 1085 views | 0 0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
You don’t have to be told that it has been hot here lately. In fact, one lady in the valley told me that it has been “hotter than hell,” but I don’t think she really has first-hand knowledge to compare with. The coolest spot at my place is usually on our west lawn under our large fruitless mulberry tree next to the garage. The big round thermometer on a post at that location indicated that the temperature reached 100 degrees a couple of times recently.

A check of other locations around the valley indicates even higher temperatures. Greg and Susan Halliday recorded a high of 111 on their unshaded front porch last week. Ron and Sandy Daily registered 105 at 4 p.m. Monday, and it was still 100 at 6:30 p.m. on both their front and back shaded porches at their Cliff View Lane home.

Darr and Gloria Hatch of Pace Lane had 108 degrees on their front porch last week, and Dave Vaughn, at the other end of Pace Lane, had 97 degrees on his truck thermometer at 6:15 p.m. Monday, when he got home from work, but said it was 105 degrees on the Colorado River Road on the way home. Richard Williams recorded 109 under his shaded front porch Monday, and the temperature got down to 72 degrees for a low early Monday morning.

Grand County Emergency Medical Service, Grand County Search and Rescue and National Park Service Rangers at Canyonlands and Arches have been busy rescuing people with heat-related emergencies during the past week or more. Most of those rescued had to be carried out because of the extreme heat while out hiking our backcountry.

Frank Mendonca, who lives up in cool Castleton, has been observing the weather up there for many years and reported a new high last week. The average hottest day of the year is 98.53, but last Friday, his high-tech weather station, located at 5,830 feet elevation, recorded 100.7 degrees at 6 p.m., the hottest day ever recorded there. That record was shattered the following day, when on Saturday, June 29 at 4:24 p.m., he recorded a sweltering 102 degrees. That temperature will surely affect the average hottest day.

The best advice for all of us is to restrict our walks and hikes to early morning or late afternoon hours. Jack Campbell says that even those hard-working and industrious red ants have sense enough to get in out of the heat. He has noticed that the ants use the “siesta system” during the heat of the summer. He says that they will retreat to their dens in the late morning hours and stay there until evening, when they go back to work until dark.

We have experienced hot weather before, but it seems like it doesn’t come until later in the summer when we’ve had a chance to get acclimatized.


Just over a year ago, a disastrous fire destroyed the shop and historic cabin at the home of Michael Dunton and Christine Williams Dunton on Cliff View Lane in Castle Valley. Along with the buildings, a lifelong collection of tools and machinery, which was necessary for Michael’s metal art sculpting business, were also destroyed, leaving him without the tools of his trade. He has been creating fine, public and functional art out of his Castle Valley home for the past 17 years, using steel, stainless steel, sandstone, marble and other natural materials. Many of his objects feature LED lights to enhance the beauty and functionality.

Several fundraisers were organized soon after the fire, and work crews assembled on the property to help clean up the debris. Support from the Moab and Castle Valley community, as well as the nationwide art community, finally resulted in a modern new shop and studio. To show his appreciation, he is inviting everyone to come and view his new studio next Saturday, July 6, beginning at noon and continuing through the night. He invites everyone to come and visit and view his new surroundings and see where he receives his inspiration for the beautiful art that comes out of his Castle Valley studio.


Speaking of fire, the Castle Valley Fire Department responded to a brush fire in that same area 30 years ago this week. The fire burned three acres of brush and grass after it was sparked by a cutting torch at the west end of the valley and moved westward toward Porcupine Rim before it was contained. There were fewer buildings in that area in those days so no structures were in immediate danger.

Also, 30 years ago, there were questions about the alignment of Castle Valley Drive by some residents, and the county surveyor was asked to survey a portion of the road. Of particular interest was the area where the road crosses Castle Creek. Several years previous, the road was realigned to permit the installation of the large culvert, and traffic over the years migrated off the course of the original survey. The road was found to be pretty much on course except for a few instances where property owners had their fences too far into the roadway.

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