01-Jul-2001 -- My father was a geography professor. Among other things, he spent time as the chair of the Geography Department at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL. He gave me my love for the outdoors, and is the reason why I am writing this. He also gave me my GPS receiver as a gift, and then told me about the Degree Confluence project. He was fascinated by the concept, and suggested that he and I visit a confluence in Southern Illinois that, at the time, had yet to be visited. He passed away in June, and we were never able to visit a confluence. While on a recent trip through southern Utah, I attempted to visit this confluence both for myself and for him.
Driving south from Highway 24 on Notom Road (which is just east of the eastern edge of Capitol Reef National Park) you can get within 4.2 miles due west of the spot from the road. This is 4 miles of pretty rough terrain, and is probably why this confluence was only attempted and not successfully reached before. I decided to first try it from this side, but after 2 hours of hiking up and down some pretty rough bluffs and washes, I turned back. With the proper topo maps and a little more planning (sorry, dad) a successful approach can be made from the northwest, but I was fairly sure that an approach from the east was also feasible.
Using the Delorme Utah Atlas and Gazetteer as a guide, I followed the forest service/ranch roads that lead southeast, then west and finally northwest onto the top of Tarantula Mesa (where the confluence was located). You turn to the east off of Notom Road where the sign directs you towards the Henry Mountains. Follow this road about 20 miles until you see a road heading up the hill to your right. If you get to the sign that directs you to "Cave Flat" you've gone a little too far. Back track a little. and you'll see it (now on the left).
Follow this road until you reach its intersection with 38 degrees north. The confluence is approximately a mile-and-a-half due west, across the mesa. The hiking is fairly easy, it took me about 35 minutes to get there.
When I approached the spot, I was afraid it was going to be just over the edge of the mesa, but according to my GPS it was within 20 feet or so of the edge.
The confluence is occupied by a 3 foot tall rock (seated on it in picture 2), but when I laid my GPS on the side of it, I got the zeros on my display that I was looking for.
I built a rock cairn to mark the spot, and spent a couple of minutes with my father, took the requisite pictures and then headed back for the car.