Sawtooth National Forest

On June 28th we arrived in Stanley, Idaho, from Caldwell, staying at the Mountain Village RV Resort. There are only 6 sites available and only 2 with 50 AMP service, so we had to book early to get a spot and I was only able to get 3 nights here. The drive along the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway was beautiful. Winding through the Boise National Forest, passing through dense forests of pine, across high mountain valleys, and along the Boise River until we finally arrived in Stanley. We settled into our site #5, and then drove to Redfish Lake for a fabulous dinner in the Redfish Lodge. A great place to stay, especially for weddings and special occasions. Continue reading

Coyote Gulch Hike

Coyote Natural Bridge

On May 10-12, 2021, while staying in Escalante, Utah, we went on a 3-day-backpacking adventure to the remote red rock beauty of Coyote Gulch, a tributary of the Escalante River. Access to this magnificent canyon is via a remote gravel washboard road called Hole-in-the-Rock Road, out on the Grand Staircase-Escalante plateau. We left at 7 am, and drove 33 miles south on Hole-in-the-Rock Road to the trailhead for Hurricane Wash. We began our hike about 8:30, looking forward to this bucket-list destination that we have wanted to do since last year. The hike through the Wash was hot and strenuous, but once we reached the confluence, in about 2 hours, the route winds around soaring sandstone walls up to 900 feet deep, dipping in and out of the sandy stream bed of Coyote Gulch. The first view of Jacob Hamlin Arch was breathtaking. It was originally called Lobo Arch. The renamed natural wonder honors one of the most notable Mormon missionaries and diplomats of the late 19th century, Jacob Hamlin has been noted as one of the bravest men that ever lived. The impressive Hamlin Arch spans 100 feet, and the enormity of this natural cathedral, many claim is one of the most beautiful in the state. We set up camp under this natural dome high on the rock ledge, we were all alone in this amazing setting.  Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading

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

Canyonlands NP

We were able to get only one overnight backcountry permit on the White Rim Road for October 20 to 21. The 100-mile White Rim Road loops around and below the Island in the Sky mesa top, and this road was on our bucket-list of adventures. The White Rim Road was constructed in the 1950’s by the Atomic Energy Commission to gain access to the uranium deposits in this area. However, the mines produced very little uranium and were soon abandoned. The road gets its name because it traverses the top of White Rim Sandstone, this is the layer of rock that sits right below the mesa of Island in the Sky. We started our adventure on the Mineral Springs switchbacks and drove along the Green River to the Labyrinth campsites, our stop for the night. The road along the Green River was very narrow with a drop off into the river. If you have a fear of heights, you might want to skip this drive. We made it to our campsite and set up camp next to the Green River, a spectacular setting and so surreal. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset before heading to bed. 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

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

The Wave and Buckskin Gulch, Coyote Buttes North

Finally after six days of trying to get a permit for The Wave I was successful with lucky number 12, on Saturday, June 20th. The Wave, located within the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness, is the premier photographic destination in the US Southwest. Only 20 permits per day (10 on-line and 10 walk-in) are available and demand far exceeds supply, so I was ecstatic when number 12 was drawn on my sixth day of getting up at seven to be there early to pick my lucky number. On June 21st, Father’s Day, we were heading out to see The Wave at 6 am from Kanab. We watched the sunrise as we drove along US-89 to the turn off for House Rock Valley Road, and drove 8.4 miles to the Wire Pass Trailhead, which is the gateway to some spectacular scenery and hiking, including The Wave and Buckskin Gulch. It’s a six mile round trip hike in required to get to The Wave, and there are a small number of cairns along the way. We started our hike to The Wave by signing the trailhead register and crossing House Rock Road to follow the Wire Pass wash for a half mile to a sign marked Coyote Butte North on the right. It took us about 90 minutes to get to The Wave, and the light was still perfect, you want to be there just after sunrise, to get great photos of all the beautiful sandstone formations and colors in The Wave. We were fortunate to have The Wave all to ourselves for a short time, and then there were only six other people who showed up while we were there. Continue reading

Southwest Adventures, Kanab Utah

On June 13th, 2020, we arrived at the Grand Plateau RV Resort, Kanab’s newest RV Resort, in Utah, for an extended stay of 3 weeks. Every morning I went to the gym in Kanab to try and get permits to the Wave and when I wasn’t successful we went to discover other beautiful places in the area. One day we drove to Alstrom Point, “The Path less Travelled”, in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. From Big Water, Utah we drove the scenic 4×4 dirt road with Hoodoos and other geological features along the route before reaching the last 3 miles, where the fun began, as Bob guided our Jeep on a technical 4WD rocky section arriving at the remote Alstrom Point. Alstrom Point has a magical view overlooking Lake Powell. The blue water of Lake Powell contrasts with the red rocks and the canyons all around us, as far as you could see makes for a special place. At the overlook we enjoyed the sweeping views of winding Lake Powell and wind-eroded sandstone formations like hoodoos, we couldn’t get enough of this magnificent view. Continue reading