Travels with Tucker

Travels with Tucker

Sunday, November 8, 2015

San Rafael Swell--the Next National Park?

Along I-70 between Green River and Salida in Utah lies some of the most interesting and beautiful landscape in Utah, the San Rafael Swell. On our six-week trek through Utah in the spring, we explored the edges of this area at Capitol Reef NP, but we never got into the heart of it.  Getting into the heart is not easy, since this area is crossed by few roads and those are mostly rough dirt tracks. We were able to spend almost a week in Green River and venture into the San Rafael Swell for some cool exploring. We visited the popular Goblin Valley State Park and the less-well-know Little Wildhorse Canyon nearby.  We almost avoided the trek out to Horseshoe Canyon, a very remote part of Canyonlands National Park, but decided to brave the 45-mile dirt road round trip and 8+ mile hike and were really glad we did. This area contains some of the best rock art in all of North America--over 2,000 years old!

This  wild and mostly-uninhabited area is very worth exploring for those who like solitude and vast landscapes that are not very hospitable to us humans.

Please check out my  Outdoor Project pages for these adventures!

Little Wildhorse Canyon
Horseshoe Canyon

Hiking up the wash towards Little Wildhorse Canyon

A classic Utah slot canyon

Even Tucker liked this hike!

The  rock walls were so interesting and beautiful

Very narrow in places

Overlooking Goblin Valley

The "goblins" are highly-weathered sandstone formations that cover a 1/2-mile-long valley

These goblins greeted us on our drive in

The long and lonely road to Horseshoe Canyon

Dinosaur footprint on the trail down to Horseshoe Canyon

This was a remote and beautiful place

One of the rock art panels in the canyon, thought to  be 2,000 to 3,000 years old

Rock art from the Fremont people 

Aliens or gods?  Who knows?

Uninhabited as far as the eye can see

A very clear day looking east to the LaSal Mountains

After the long hike, we still had to drive 23 miles back to the highway

Saturday, October 31, 2015

We Return to Arches and Canylonlands

Is there another town in the country that has not one, but TWO national parks at its door step other than Moab, Utah? We spent a few weeks back in April exploring Arches and Canyonlands National Parks as well as other lesser-known attractions around Moab and we enjoyed the town itself a lot. So we decided to spend more time there on our trek to the west coast for the winter. It was fun revisiting hikes that we loved last time, like the False Kiva, the Dead Horse Point Rim trail and Devils Garden. Easily one of the easiest places in the country to make great looking photographs, I got to hit some iconic scenes, especially the sunrise on Mesa Arch that has been photographed by thousands every year. It was sad to leave Colorado for who-knows-how-long, but exciting to be headed back to hang with Jeff and Lucas over the winter. In the meantime, we weren't in any hurry to leave Utah.

Arches view from the campground

Very iconic shot of the Turret Arch through the North Window
 Double Arch
Posing beneath the Double Arch

Skyline Arch

View from the Park Avenue trail in Arches

Looking through the Pine Tree Arch

Another classic shot, looking through Double O Arch on the Devils Garden trail

The distant LaSal Mountains got a good bit of snow the week we were in Moab

Rising moon through the North Window

From Dead Horse Point, the full moon rises over the LaSal Mountains

Mesa Arch at sunrise

This kind of crowd every clear morning at Mesa Arch!

The False Kiva archaeological  site in Canyonlands

Sunrise view from Dead  Horse Point

Another shot of the sunrise over Canyonlands

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Back to Grand Junction + Hiking Colorado National Monument

From Dinosaur we headed south, with some reluctance, to the destination for our last week in Colorado.  Twenty-one weeks ago we entered Colorado and spent virtually the entire time since then in this beautiful  state.  We have thoroughly loved it here and hope to come back before too many years have passed.

For our last week we stayed in Grand Junction and planned to explore the Colorado National Monument.  This NM is the polar opposite of Dinosaur NM as far as proximity to civilization is concerned. Less than 20 minutes from Grand Junction's modest downtown, this stunning canyon landscape is a hidden-in-plain-site gem.

We did the supposedly best hike in the park, Monument Canyon, as well as the short Devils Kitchen trail and we spent considerable time at all the dozen overlooks along 23-mile Rimrock Road through the park. Check out more pictures and descriptions on the Outdoor Project:

Colorado National  Monument
Monument Canyon
Devils Kitchen

If you are ever passing through Grand Junction, it is literally a 15-mile detour  to go through Colorado NM instead, but it will take hours because it is so breathtaking. Here are some highlights of our week.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

To the Land of the Dinosaurs!

A park named Dinosaur with an area over 220,000 acres, how many acres would you guess have any dinosaur bones?  How about less than one!  While it was originally established in 1915 to protect a rich quarry of dinosaur bones, the park was enlarged to its current size to protect vast canyons and a split mountain and uplifted land masses dozens of miles long. Compared to many units of the national park system, Dinosaur National Monument is lightly visited, so we headed up there to explore and get some solitude.
We camped in the park with a site right next to the Green River with nice views of the Split Mountain.  We hiked the short trail off the main park road and visited the dinosaur quarry that started it all. We drove some fair distances to explore the more remote corners of the park like the McKee Springs petroglyphs, Island Park, Echo Park and the Harpers Corner overlook hike. This is a beautiful remote park and was definitely worth the long drive there.

If you'd like to see more about these adventures, check out my Outdoor Project articles here:

Echo Park
Jones Hole
Harpers Corner
McKee Springs Petroglyphs
Dinosaur Quarry
Sound of Silence Trail
Desert Voices Trail

Birds-eye view of our campground at Green River

Taking a break on a beautiful desert hike

Prairie dog watching us pass

The dinosaur quarry has yielded over 400 complete dinosaur skeletons to-date

The historic Chew Ranch has been working this land for well over 100 years

McKee Springs petroglyphs

This is Island Park

Heritage cottonwood tree by the Green River

These bighorn sheep were unphased by us 

The view of the Yampa Bench from Harpers Corner Trail

Whirlpool Canyon from the Harpers Corner overlook

Echo Park.  Stopping the dam that was to flood this area was one of the great environmental victories in the 60's