Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Our epic journey continues into 2021. We arrived in Escalante, Utah and are staying at the Escalante Cabins and RV Park for a week from May 6-13. Our first hike was to the Escalante Natural Bridge from the Escalante River Trailhead just 14 miles north of Escalante. It’s a 4-mile R/T hike following the Escalante River, which we had to cross four times in our hiking shoes, and the water was up to our knees in places. The Escalante River is created on the high mountains of the Aquarius Plateau, tiny springs and creeks gather and wind their way 90 miles to Lake Powell. A maze of hundreds of miles of deep, stunning canyons formed as the Escalante carved through slickrock and sandstone over eons of years. The canyon was filled with Cottonwood trees along the river and the bright red canyon walls stood out against the new green leaves on the trees. The first view of the Escalante Natural Bridge was across an open meadow and after one more river crossing we arrived at the 130 foot high impressive natural bridge. The sun’s rays made for a great shot hidden behind the arch. We stayed for lunch and then we returned back along the trail to the jeep. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading

Upper Muley Twist Trail – Capitol Reef NP

We were able to book only two nights in October, 2020, at an RV Park near Capital Reef National Park, Thousand Lakes RV Park just outside of Torrey, Utah. We did a day hike to Upper Muley Twist Canyon, a 9 mile loop trail that was a long and challenging hike but well worth the effort. The Upper Muley Twist Canyon Road is located one mile west of the top of the Burr Trail Road switchbacks, and we were able to drive the 4WD Road the 2.9 miles up the canyon to the Strike Valley Overlook parking area.(Watch the video for the drive out of Upper Muley Twist Canyon and down the Burr Trail Switchbacks). We hiked the 1.7 miles up the wash to the impressive Saddle Arch. We continued up the canyon 2.3 miles beyond Saddle Arch to the narrows. We were there at noon and the sunlight lighting the brilliant reds of the sandstone canyon walls was spectacular. We found the trail marked by cairns leading up to the top of the Waterpocket Fold. It was a scramble up the rocks to reach the top but the vistas from the Fold were impressive. We could see the distinct colors of the Navajo and Wingate sandstone layers exposed, tilted by the uplift and folding of the Earth’s crust and sculpted by millions of years of erosion. The route along the Rim was cairned, and we followed them as best we could. Then we dropped back into the canyon at Saddle Arch and hiked back out the 1.7 miles to the Jeep. On the way out we stopped to take photos of a Double Arch by the road. What a great day hike. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading

Hole in the Rock Road – Escalante NP

Peek-a-boo Canyon

The Hole-in-the-Rock Trail is a historic 180-mile trail starting near the town of Escalante and ending in Bluff, Utah, located within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the adjacent Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It is named for the place where the San Juan Mission of Mormon Pioneers constructed a descent to the Colorado River in 1879-80, a geological feature called the Hole in the Rock. A modern unpaved road closely follows this historic trail to the point where it enters the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. We drove the entire length of the Hole in the Rock Road, 60 miles, stopping at Peek-a-boo and Spooky slot canyons, and Dance Hall Rock before reaching the Hole in the Rock where we descended down the natural crevice on the 1,000 foot cliff to Lake Powell. Dance Hall Rock was an important staging area for the Mormon pioneers, while scouts looked for a viable route to their destination. They stayed here for months while the scouts drilled and blasted their way down the Hole in the Rock. They held square dances in the large sandstone formation shaped like an amphitheater, to keep their spirits high as they waited. Continue reading

Toroweap Grand Canyon NP

Sunrise from Toroweap Point

On October 3-5, 2020, we went on another great trip while staying in Kanab. A three day car-camping trip to Toroweap Overlook (also known as Tuweep Overlook or Toroweap Point), a viewpoint within the Grand Canyon National Park on the North Rim. The overlook is the only viewpoint in the National Park from where the Colorado River can be seen 3,000 feet vertically below the rim. We got a two night Backcountry Permit at the Tuweep Campground, the only campground at the North Rim’s most remote viewpoint. We drove the 61-mile 4WD road out to Toroweap Overlook, and got the best campsite at the Tuweep Campground. After setting up camp we drove 1 mile to the Toroweap Overlook, and it is truly THE most spectacular view in all the Grand Canyon, because the canyon is less than a mile wide. Toroweap Overlook at an elevation of 4,600 feet, is on a broad platform called an Esplanade, with the Colorado River clearly flowing 3,000 feet straight below. Continue reading

Kaibab National Forest – North Rim Grand Canyon

September is the perfect month to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon because the fall foliage is so colorful. Our first trip was the drive out to Sublime Point on a 4WD road. The drive begins a couple miles from the North Rim’s Grand Canyon Lodge, along a dirt road in the Kaibab National Forest. About 4 miles in we came to an impressive meadow, where bright-green ferns and deep-orange Ponderosas mark the passage and many young-quaking Aspens. At about 12 miles, we stopped at the first view we could see of the Grand Canyon. The next 4 miles we were in the woods and then it opens up with sheer drop-offs close in on both sides of the road, and Point Sublime at the end. Stunning, spectacular, sensational, and sublime are the words that come to mind on our first view from Point Sublime. We were sorry that we could not get camping permits here but we stayed and enjoyed lunch taking in the amazing sight of another of Mother Nature’s handiwork, the Grand Canyon in all its glory. We left Point Sublime and looked for a campsite in the Kaibab National Forest on the way to the Rainbow Rim Trail. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading

A Day with EXP – Paria Lookout and Zion Camp

While staying in Kanab we were fortunate to be able to connect with Eric and Andrew, on a mission for EXP Journeys, who were exploring 4WD routes in the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness. Luckily for us they got a flat tire, so we were able to catch up to them before reaching the Paria Canyon Overlook. We stopped here and Andrew took some Drone footage of the red Jeep climbing up some difficult 4WD roads. Then we followed them out to Smokey Mountain Road, designated Route-230 and begins in the small town of Big Water, Utah. We turned onto Route-231 which goes to Warm Creek Bay. Along the way we drove 5 miles through Crosby Canyon, and the smooth texture of the canyon walls was evidence that the canyon was underwater long ago. Crosby Canyon is very narrow in places and the road surface is sandy, this route is tailor made for jeeps, so Andrew was filming us through the narrow slot canyon, great footage! Warm Creek Bay is a terrific fishing location, with a large peninsula to set up camp. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading

Coyote Buttes South Hike

The Witch’s Hat

Coyote Buttes North which holds The Wave is well known, but there is another nearby area that has just as fascinating formations and is much easier to get permits, Coyote Buttes South. Today we got permits to visit Coyotes Buttes South, located in just a small part of the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness. It supposedly has some of the most visually striking geologic sandstone formations in the world. We drove 11.5 miles to the Cottonwood Cove Trailhead which  accessible only by 4WD vehicle due to extremely sandy conditions. When we finally arrived there was only one couple there, we had the whole place to ourselves as we explored all the sandstone formations. Such as, the Control Tower, the Witch’s Hat or Sea Horse, and the Teepees in the distance. We followed the Alltrails map so we wouldn’t get lost in the middle of Coyote Buttes South, and we finally made it back to the Jeep. This is definitely a must visit area and it would be fun to come back and camp for 2 nights. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading

Florence Falls, Gunsight Lake and Piegan Pass Hikes

Two more wonderful day hikes that we had not done before while at Glacier National Park, the first was to Gunsight Lake from the Gunsight Pass Trailhead on the Going-to-the-Sun Road east of Logan Pass. The trail started in a  gradual descent for about a mile when we came to Deadwood Falls, a beautiful 10-foot waterfall with deep crystal clear pools of water above and below the falls. We continued on for about 2 miles to the St Mary River and the beautiful valley where we were hoping to spot a moose that some hikers had seen earlier. No luck this time. A little further along we came to an opening in the canopy that provided us with one of the most magnificent views in Glacier. In the foreground is an open grassy meadow alongside Mirror Pond  and framing the background is Mount Jackson, Gunsight Mountain and Fusillade Mountain, as well as Gunsight Pass. Continue reading

Gunsight Pass Trail Backpacking Trip

It was 3 am and dark, when I got up to go to the backcountry office in Glacier National Park to try and get permits for a 3 day backpacking trip to Gunsight Pass Trail. I arrived just before 4 am and I was 4th in line to wait until the office opened at 8 am. Then it started to rain while we were all huddled in our camp chairs trying to keep warm. It was a very long 4 hours but finally the Park Rangers arrived just before 8 am and we began the process of acquiring backcountry permits. I was assured that I was going to be able to get the 3 campsites I wanted, but when it came to my turn the Ranger said that they had sold the one campsite left at Gunsight Lake campground to an employee about 5 minutes before. Change of plans; I got the first night at Sperry Campground, second night at Lake Wilson Campground and the third night back at Sperry Campground. We started our hike early as it is a steep 6.2 mile climb to reach Sperry Chalet and Campground. Continue reading

Glacier NP, August and September

We came back to Glacier National Park for another 3 week stay at Columbia Falls RV Park in late August and September. We took another drive out to Polebridge for the day to hike along Bowman Lake. It is approximately one mile wide and eight miles in length. We stopped at Polebridge to buy the famous bear claws again to take on the hike to the backpacking campsite where we went down to the lake just before the campsite and set up our camping chairs. Bowman Lake is a very peaceful lake and a perfect place to chill out and swim in the lake while enjoying the tranquility of the surroundings. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading