The Canyons of Utah (and Arizona), Pt. 2

There´s a fine line between total fulfillment and frustration. We experienced this line in southern Utah.

From Hanksville, Utah, we headed south to “Bullfrog Marina“. Mainly because it sounded nice, and it was situated in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which sounded promising. We were super excited to see this

GlenCanyon

but sadly, we only got to see this…

Truck and Boat

Turns out that you can only get those pretty views in the top picture from a boat, and we had to leave the canoe behind in Canada. So we were stuck in the world´s ugliest place, surrounded by motorboat enthusiasts who loved their truck and boat more than their wife and kids. We had to find a different way to see some impressive Canyons. From Bullfrog, we headed west, and reached “BLM-Land” soon enough. After we had found an amazing spot to spend the night our “neighbor” who put up his camp 100 metres from us, decided that he´d like to have the place all to himself. Since we didn´t want to mess with an american redneck we decided to keep driving and find a different spot. The last sunrays were shining upon our car when we found a place in the middle of nowhere that we could call home for the next night. What a rollercoaster that day had been!

We cooked some delicious couscous and got lost staring into the galaxies when we noticed that it got quite cold. So we went to bed to start the next day early enough to catch the first sunbeams of the day! It was stunning how the light in the canyon had changed from sunset to sunrise. The mood was incredible, and although it was really cold it was worth getting up that early.

We had a brutal day of driving ahead of us. From the Glen Canyon, we wanted to head west through the Capitol Reef National Park, where we came from, and then further to the Zion National Park. Since driving with a cold and a fever wasn´t the best idea, we stopped in Escalante just past Boulder (Utah), where we found an amazing organic shop called “Escalante Mercantile”. Also, the visitor centre in Escalante was very informative and it was about time for us to catch up with the folks at home and the WiFi there was pretty good!

One thing led to another and soon enough we found ourselves in a guesthouse on a beautiful ranch in the quietest place in southern Utah, staying the night and getting over our cold.

The next day we organized our stuff and headed towards Zion National Park. We made it just in time for a quick hike on the Canyon Overlook Trail at the east entrance of the park, where we could watch the sun lighting up the red cliffs of the National Park. We headed back to our very nice campground that was just outside the park.

We went to bed early to gather our strength for the next day. Good thing we did, because it should be a very rough one.

Having a broken radiator hose in the traffic jam right before a tunnel sucks. On the bright side, we were lucky that this little “incident” didn´t happen 10 minutes later, because then we´d have been stuck in the tunnel. Anyway, shortly after we had reached the magical Zion NP we left it – in a towtruck that was driven by Hank, a man who called himself a “hick” and who is very proud of the fact that his 12 year old daughter can handle a “small pumpgun”.

Although I´m positive that Hank voted for Drumpf and is therefore partly responsible for the upcoming World War III, we got our radiator hose fixed and our car towed for 250$, which was not too bad considering that we were in no-man´s-land and would have paid any price to get out of this situation.

After we´d lost another day, it was time for us to visit the greatest of all canyons, El Grande, the Grand Canyon.

I will spare out further descriptions and just say this: Visit the North Rim in mid-october, avoid the crowds and take in breathtaking views, narrow trails that lead you through millions of years of earth history and an awesome campground in the pine forest!

 

The Canyons of Utah, Pt. 1

“Should we drive any further?”

Since it´s “only” five hours from Jackson, Wyoming, to Salt Lake City, Utah, and then another three to Capitol Reef, the decision was obvious: Hit the road! After a stop in Salt Lake City we drove to Capitol Reef National Park to see the stunning waterfold, narrow canyons and mars-like landscape.

As mentioned, it was a very spontaneous decision to head to Capitol Reef, which is probably the most underestimated of Utah´s “Mighty Five” National Parks and thus we had no idea what to do, where or how long to stay. The first night we spent just outside of the National Park on a small campground with a little fee (6$), because we´d heard that the campground in Fruita was full for the day.

We didn´t want to miss out on a stay at the campground amidst beautiful orchards, so the next day we started early to secure a spot within the boundaries of the National Park. The first attraction of the NP was Chimney Rock and the Goosenecks Overlook. Those two sights were very promising, and after a quick stop in the Visitor Center we were stoked to see the rest of the park. So we checked in to the campground and got a spot just a stonethrow away from a herd of deers with the biggest ears ever!

Again, our book came in very handy. We had read about the Grand Wash, and after the incredibly friendly volunteer at the campground approved that hike, we decided to head there in the evening. It was just a quick drive from the campground and a 30 minute walk (one-way), but that was enough to get away from the crowds completely. The massive, narrow canyon walls were impressive, and it was incredible to see fast the scenery changing as the sun slowly set.

But our new friend from the campground recommended not only that, but also a very narrow slot canyon “near” the National Park, which we explored the next day. Of course, the 30 minute drive he had promised us turned into a 90 minute journey, but it was worth it! We stayed overnight on BLM-land (free camping!) near the Goblin Valley State Park, just a couple of meters from the trailhead to the slot canyon.

Although the hike at the Grand Wash was great, it couldn´t beat the amazing Little Wild Horse Canyon! The whole area (San Rafael Swell) is known for its opportunities for canyoneering, but the Wild Horse Canyon is a fairly easy hike that everybody could do. A look at the weather forecast is necessary to check for flash floods, but on a fine day you can enjoy the canyon worry-free.

After the hike, we treated ourselves to a nice milkshake in the “town” of Hanksville. We expected Walter White to walk in any minute, because we had seen his RV at the gas station, but we couldn´t find him.

Since we were already close to Bullfrog Marina, we decided to head there next. Stay tuned for the next story!

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