Cortez Colorado

Square Tower House

We stayed at the Mesa Verde RV Park, October 29 to 30, in a beautiful pull-thru site, while visiting Mesa Verde National Park, just across the road. Mesa Verde National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, established by Congress and President Roosevelt in 1906. Mesa Verde (Spanish for “green table”), with more than 5,000 sites, including 600 cliff dwellings, is the largest archaeological preserve in the US. We spent one day driving the Mesa Top Loop in the Park visiting the many ruins and cliff dwellings. Our first stop was to view the famous Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling in North America. Cliff Palace contains 23 kivas (round sunken rooms of ceremonial importance) and 150 rooms and had a population of approximately 100 people. We couldn’t go down to see the ruins close up because there were no tours now, but we enjoyed seeing it from the viewpoint. We also stopped at Square Tower House Overlook to get a view from the top, featuring the tallest structure in the park. 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

Arches NP

Delicate Arch

We finally were able to get reservations at Spanish Trails RV Park in Moab for 5 days in October. The town was packed with tourists and cars everywhere. We went to Arches National Park and saw the North and South Windows Arches, Turret Arch, and  Double Arch across the parking lot. They are still fantastic to see up close, and to be able to climb around and under the massive red rock arches was so impressive. We drove the 4WD road out to Tower Arch which we had not experienced before because it is a long way from the main road. The 4WD road was very rough and took us quite some time to go 3.2 miles, but what a blast! Once we arrived at the parking lot we could see Tower Arch, and we walked up to the viewpoint to get a stunning view of the 92-wide span and its namesake Tower that rises behind to the north of the arch. We scrambled up the slick rock ledges to the inside of the arch where we had a terrific view of the La Sal Mountains to the east. We went back on Salt Valley Road watched the sunset as we reached the paved road and back to the RV. 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