Showing posts from April, 2011

Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park

Date: April 18, 2011

The Kolob Canyons are located in the northwestern section of Zion National Park, far and not easily accessed from Zion Canyon, which along with its colder winter weather kept me from seeing more of it.  However, the canyons are easily accessed from exit 40 on Interstate 15, where the Kolob Canyons Road leads to a visitor center as well as trailheads and viewpoints.

Because I was pressed for time when I visited, I simply drove the road and went to the viewpoint.  However, the Taylor Creek Trail leads to Double Arch Alcove.  The La Verkin Creek Trail goes to the enormous Kolob Arch and connects to the Hop Valley Trail, which goes to the Kolob Terrace Road at Firepit Knoll, forming a network of interconnected trails in the park.

© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.

Kodachrome Basin State Park

Date: April 17-18, 2011
Location: Cannonville, Utah

Kodachrome Basin State Park is a collection of interesting colorful sandstone features in Southwest Utah just to the southeast of Bryce Canyon National Park in near the town of Cannonvile and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  National Geographic renamed the park in 1949 after Kodak Film Corporation because of its colorful features.  The park receives only about 50,000 visitors each year but still has a campground, several trails, visitor center, and camp store.

The Angel's Palace Trail is a short 1.5 mile loop trail that rises 150 feet above the valley floor and provides great overviews of the area.  The Grand Parade Trail is another 1.5 mile loop trail that remains on the floor of the valley below the Angel's Palace Trail and explores a few of the small box canyons in the area.  Along this trail you will get to see one of the park's 67 sedimentary pipes, which are pillars of rock that were of different composi…

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Location: southern Utah
Date: April 17, 2011

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah is another area that I only briefly visited, but would like to spend more time in.  Located between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon national parks and created in 1996, Grand Staircase encompasses nearly two million acres of Bureau of Land Management lands, making it the largest national monument.

With so much land, there are countless recreation opportunities here often with far fewer visitors than in the nearby national parks.  This is a landscape of plateaus and canyons, including slot canyons, natural arches, badlands, and waterfalls.

For most people, their experience with the monument is along state route 12, which runs through the monument and has been designated an All-American Highway.  My favorite views along this road where to the east of and overlooking Calf Creek Canyon.

© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.

Capitol Reef National Park

Location: Torrey, Utah
Date: April 16, 2011

Capitol Reef National Park in south-central Utah protects Waterpocket Fold - a 100 mile long buckle in the Earth's crust.  The most visited section of the park is along state route 24 east of Torrey.  South of Torrey, state route 12 goes all the way to Bryce Canyon, and is one of only 27 roads in the country designated an All-American Road.

Along route 24 are several features including Chimney Rock, Panorama Point/the Goosenecks, petroglyphs, Hickman Bridge, Capitol Dome, and the Fruita Historic District.  The Goosenecks is an overlook from above Sulphur Creek Canyon that is along a 0.2 mile trail.  The Hickman Bridge is a natural bridge along a trail one mile from the road and 400 feet up the canyon.

A 10 mile paved scenic road goes south from the visitor center through the Fruita Historic District to the Capitol Gorge.  The Fruita Historic District along the Fremont River is the location of Native American  as well as Mormon pioneer s…

Goblin Valley State Park

Location: southwest of Green River, Utah
Date: April 16, 2011

Goblin Valley State Park is home to thousands of small mushroom-shaped hoodoos that can seem to resemble goblins.  The park is in a remote section of Utah between Green River and Hanksville about 10 miles off state route 24.  It is surrounded by BLM land near the San Rafael Swell and northeast of Capitol Reef National Park.

Goblin Valley was probably discovered by ranchers who lost their cattle in this intriguing landscape.  Three distinct rock layers that formed during the Jurassic as much as 170 million years ago make up the park with the hoodoos in the lowest Entrada layer.  The uneven hardness of the sandstone led to erosion by wind and water until the hoodoos formed.

There are three trails that go to vantage points, but most people drive to Observation Point, where you can walk freely among the hoodoos, but there are no trails.  You can walk around endlessly throughout these formations, marveling at the odd shapes.  T…

Green River State Park

Location: Green River, Utah
Date: April 15-16, 2011
Green River State Park in central Utah isn't much, but since I stayed there I thought that I'd write a little about it.  Located in the town of Green River and along the Green River, this state park consists of a campground, boat launch, and a nine-hole golf course.  Just a short distance off Interstate 70, this state park was quite quiet.  
The campground was very nice with many cottonwood trees and grassy campsites.  As the sun began to set, I discovered two great horned owls and their nest above my campsite.  If you don't golf, fish, boat, or just stay the night, there is really no reason to visit this park.  

© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.

Canyonlands National Park

Location: west of Moab, Utah
Date: April 15, 2011

Canyonlands National Park in the desert of southeastern Utah encompasses the complex array of canyons formed out of the Colorado Plateau around the confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers before flowing south into what was Glen Canyon (now Lake Powell).  The rivers divide the landscape into three major sections: Island in the Sky, the Needles, and the Maze.  Popular activities in the park include driving and biking the backcountry roads, rock climbing, taking river trips, and hiking.

Only the the Island in the Sky and the Needles are easily accessible from the north and east, respectively.  The paved roads in these two sections remain atop the plateaus while several unpaved 4-wheel drive roads descend into the canyons.  The White Rim trail in the Island in the Sky is a 100 mile dirt road around the mid-elevations in this section.

I only visited the Island in the Sky section because it is fairly close to Moab, while the Needles sec…

Arches National Park

Date: April 13-14, 2011
Location: Moab, Utah

Arches National Park in eastern Utah features a collection of over 2,000 natural arches ranging from 3 foot spans (the minimum to be an arch) to the 306 foot Landscape Arch.  In addition to the iconic arches, there are many other interesting rock features that have been formed though slow but drastic erosion, as occurred in 2008 when Wall Arch completely collapsed.

The Windows Section
In the Windows section of the park there are several short and easy trails that take you around the namesake North and South Window arches, Double Arch, and Turret Arch.  Also in the area are the Cove of Caves, Garden of Eden, Cove Arch, and the Balanced Rock, which is along the main park road.

Delicate Arch
Delicate Arch is the world's most famous arch and is on Utah's license plate.  To reach Delicate Arch you must hike 3.0 miles round trip partially across slickrock  with a section with moderate elevation gain.  From this trail you can walk up to th…

Moab, UT

Dates: April 12-15, 2011

Moab, Utah is a popular destination for all sorts of outdoor activities, and most people visit Arches and Canyonlands national parks, which I covered in other posts.  While everything there is to do in Moab is beyond the possibilities of what I can cover, I will cover three areas I visited.

First is the area along route 279 west-southwest of town along the Colorado River.  The road closely follows the river into the canyons before dead-ending at an industrial facility.  This is one of the best and easiest areas to experience being in the canyons by car, and this makes the surrounding cliffs popular climbing destinations.  Along the road there is a place to stop where you can see a giant rock that has broken off the cliffs and exposes several dinosaur tracks on its surface.

The second area is a drive I went on east of town that formed a loop beginning  by following the Colorado upstream through the canyons along route 128 before turning towards Castle Valley.…

Natural Bridges National Monument

Location: west of Blanding, Utah
Date: April 12, 2011

Natural Bridges National Monument in southern Utah features three of the five largest natural bridges in the world.  Bridges differ from arches in that bridges are formed from flowing water, while arches are made by other factors, primarily frost action and seeping moisture.

The three bridges are:
     Owachomo (106' high x 180' span)
     Sipapu (220' x 268')
     Kachina (210' x 204')

Natural Bridges is located in a remote area over 30 miles west of Blanding, Utah, and it was well out of the way of my planned trip in April 2011.  I debated whether to visit, but it was undoubtedly worth the trip.  The canyons in the monument are different from any others I have been to in the Southwest, and they along would have been worth the visit.

A 14 mile one-way park loop road leaves from the visitor center and travels along the canyon rims, so make sure to stop at each bridge as you reach them.  The first bridge you …