Ring of Fire Solar Eclipse – Utah

We were lucky to be  close to the path of the annual eclipse 2023. After a night at Goosenecks State Park, we found a great dispersed site near Swinging Bridge in a section of Bears Ears National Monument.
A couple of our friends joined us to hike some of our favorite spots.
Part of a series of towers that could signal to Chaco Canyon.
The Wolfman Petroglyph Panel is site to behold. Wow! Bears Ears NM
Back at our camp, we have moved the van to give us some shade.
We are ready for the eclipse to begin on this beautiful clear morning.
Using our special glasses we got this photo as the moon is starting to eclipse the sun.
We were not quite expecting the noticeable drop in temperature as the sun was covered.
The Ring of Fire! Awesome! We were excited to capture this photo with our camera!  We also experienced this annual eclipse in Canyonlands in 2012.
We continued our adventure the next day at Hovenweep NM as most had cleared out so we snagged our favorite site #4 as well as the adjacent one.
Fun to be amongst these  structures from the past and contemplate the culture that built them. Hovenweep NM
What are the odds of seeing people you know from Denver on the trail? Many Coloradoans in Utah for the eclipse!
The Sleeping Ute at sunset from our campsite. We are ready for an awesome night of stargazing at Hovenweep NM. Our pics from last fall

Utah: Exploring

Mid October we headed west to enjoy the fall weather.
The visitor center at Mesa Verde NP was a good break.
Who are those aliens at Valley of the Gods? Enjoying our camp at sunset.
Our zoomed in view of Monument Valley in AZ.
We hiked the West lime Creek drainage area from camp Valley of the Gods.
Henry the Navigator triangulating where we are!
Drive through Valley of the Gods – such interesting formations.
We left the Travato and got out for a walk.
Such a clear day as the Moon set.
Goosenecks State Park – WOW!
And this was our campsite on the rim. Also there was a night star party!
How many Mile 0 have we traveled to?
Hillside towards Mexican Hat with a zoom lens showing erosion – interesting patterns.
Sand Island petroglyphs – always interesting.
Sand Island Petroglyphs  – the figures look playful.
An overnight BLM camp with view of Comb Ridge!
What did we find in Butler Wash?
Dinosaur tracks! Another preserved treasure.
Always worth a hike to see House on Fire in the morning.
What a home!
Site #4 at Hovenweep NM CG was available – one of our favorite spots. Our pics from Oct 2020.
Perfect day to contemplate the canyon and buildings at Hovenweep.
The attention to detail is fabulous.

Utah: Sand Island/Butler Wash

We are in Bluff Utah by lunch and snagged a river site at Sand Island Campground.
A wonderful walk along the river to see petroglyphs – and blooming cactus.
Nicely preserved petroglyphs in the rock faces.
Also some wall remnants protected under cliff overhangs.
We headed up Butler Wash along Combs Ridge for some more remote hiking.
More ancient construction under some huge cliffs with protected coves.
Absolutely gorgeous petroglyphs – quite large and very distinct.
We could make up our own stories as to the meanings.
Nice scenery to enjoy after a day of hiking – relaxing in the shade of the van!
A long day hike up a canyon to some more areas of interest.
Posing outside doorway to give some scale to the building.
Love how the large boulders are incorporated into the walls. There must have been an upper level
Amazing hand print detail captured with a zoom lens.
We had a very hot day of hiking and we did not explore all the side canyons.
But enjoyed some unusual natural rock formations.

8/8: Mojave to Vermillion Cliffs

We are getting our kicks on Route 66!
We parked for the night at BLM’s Amboy Crater and hiked to the caldera in the morning. The other side of those mountains is Twenty Nine Palms, where my Dad was stationed when he brought his young bride to California on Rt 66.
We are headed to these mountains across the train tracks into the Mojave National Preserve.
We found a nice site at Hole In the Wall campground. Is there a hole in the wall to continue our hike?
Really is there a hole in the wall?
Well what do you know. Jungle Gym rings to pull yourself up the slot.
Gorgeous cactus and vistas along the trail.
Beauty in the details.
We motored through Las Vegas and followed the Virgin River into the Gold Buttes National Monument established in 2016. Another new monument on BLM land!
We enjoyed the sunset and solitude. We will have to come back to explore more of this park.
Marble Canyon area on east side of Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. We stopped at Grand Staircase Escalante Visitor Center and received a wealth of information to keep us busy for several weeks. Providing of course the monument doesn’t shrink again.
We drove through some Vermilion Cliffs to Lees Ferry. Many changes have come this way with paved roads, pullouts, parking lots, and dedicated campground.
Channeling Wesley Powell: A fabulous day on the Colorado River! This is part of the Grand Canyon National Park and where rafting trips to the canyon begin.
This is another release site for California condors – we were lucky to see a pair fly over the canyon.
We looked through a sun telescope as there were some astronomers holding a special event. The Navajo Bridge leads you to Glen Canyon Recreation Area. We have come full circle on our trip.

1/8: Southern Utah

Bears Ears National Monument:. Our first night of planned 6 weeks of travel visiting many places we had last visited in 2009.
We had enjoyed this area many other times but not actually camped and hiked at the summit of the ears.
We hiked around the summit area. Link to vicinity pictures in fall of 2016
Natural Bridges National Monument: we hiked the canyon trail again that weaves under all the bridges. Link to photos in May 2012
Overlooking the Colorado River as it enters Lake Powell on a very pleasant fall day at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Water is low exposing this runway to Lake Powell reservoir. We were wondering if we should bring our kayaks as there were not too many campers this late in the season.
Our dispersed camp site on BLM land south of Highway 24, east of Capitol Reef National Park. Can you find the Travato? What a view in all directions!
We hiked Burro Wash, Cottonwood Wash, and Sheets Gulch Slot Canyons (on three separate days) that are along the Eastern side of the Waterfold Pocket formation.
This is a view of the Waterfold Pocket looking North from the Cedar Mesa  campground (off Notom-Bullfrog Road). We hiked the Red Canyon Trail to a large amphitheater.
Very fun and unique slot canyons.
There were a few challenges to overcome.
And a few predators linking around the bends.
Amazing that these dry washes could scour these canyons so smooth and deep.
Luckily I could stop this rock from blocking my path!
We explored the busy main part Capital Reef National Park, listening to a ranger’s geology talk at the visitor center and then heading to an overlook to contemplate the rock layers.
As we leave Capitol Reef National Park and head west towards Nevada…

Ancient Ones in Colorado Plateau

Canyonlands NP Needles district house in the cliff was a 10-mile round trip hike.
This was a short hike near Combs Ridge south of Blanding, UT.
A nice little tower on the ridge from our hike to Jail House Runis and Perfect Kiva.
This is the Perfect Kiva which we hiked up to see closer.
View from the Perfect Kiva looking back across the valley.
It is a BLM site and had a nice booklet describing so many of the features and artifacts found there. Fascinating!
Natural Bridges National Monument was the first National Park in Utah. It is quite spectacular.
We took the trail to the Horsecollar ruins.
It had a one log ladder to climb up – not so bad but going down I was glad to have a good companion.
This is a gorgeous bridge on a gorgeous day.
This is our “Million Dollar View” campsite that we had stayed at before. We were here five nights this time. The dark skies and stars were spectacular.
House on Fire ruins – if visited when the sun is just right it appears to be in flames. who came up with that?
Before Hovenweep NM we hiked around this canyon to see other cliff dwellings.
Beautiful craftsmanship.
Sunrise over Sleeping Giant from our campsite at Hoovenweep National Monument.
Morning loop hike at the monument to see these treasures.
The spirit raven was watching.
The wood supports in these buildings are original.
The sites on the rock ledges are such interesting selections of places to build.
There is a house tucked under that large boulder.
The cliff partially collapsed but the dwelling stayed attached to its foundation.
We wore ourselves out with a bunch of shorter hikes and the day kept getting hotter and hotter.
We sat and enjoyed this for a while – really detailed and intricate brick laying.
Early morning at Lowry Pueblo in Canyon of the Ancients.
It felt really special to be able to experience this lighting.
Mr Fox even had to check out the photographer. That is Sleeping Ute Mountain in the background.

Canyonlands – Utah

Heading towards Moab, we stopped at Fisher Towers for a lunch break hike.
We stitched this panorama together to try to show the beauty of the amphitheater.
Further on, we stopped along the Colorado River to enjoy the perspective of being on the water.
We found this amazing campsite on BLM land between Arches NP and Canyonlands – Isle.
There were others camping in the same valley but we felt like we had a great site with excellent views. We were here three nights.
Candlestick rock from a hike to an overlook point with our lunch.
Enjoying the Colorado River and all the canyons that were carved in the past.
This is the Schaeffer Trail panorama. We did not take the Travato down!
An early hike to Morning Glory natural bridge down Negro Bill Canyon.
An afternoon drive along Potash Road on the west side of Moab to enjoy the scenery.
And to discover the petroglyphs.
We drove as far as Jug Arch.
A final sunset before heading to the southern part of Canyonlands.
Newspaper rock never fails to fascinate! It has been fun to experience this area in the fall colors.
There was a full moon rise from our next campsite of three nights on in the Manitou National Forest.
A hike in Canyonlands Needles district.
Very fun slick rock shapes.
A slight breeze to cool us but unseasonably warm this year.
We feel so privileged to be able to spend a day doing this hike.
A bit of aspens or cottonwoods in the canyon bottom.
We would have loved to park over night here but it was private land – but nice we were able to spend a few minutes here.
Another hike to Paul Bunyan’s Potty. Do you remember our picture with Paul in Minnesota?



Dinosaur National Monument

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Green River Campground – sunset while listening to a ranger talk on NPS. They had slept in 51 parks…while stargazing that evening by the river in campsite #77, we figured we had slept in 39 national park sites. The stars and Milky Way were incredible and it was warm enough evening to enjoy lingering and appreciating the Enormity-of-it-All.
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After picnicking at Echo Park overlook, we hiked to Harpers Corner Overlook spectacular viewpoint. Not the distance of our Green River to Desert Voices to Sound of Silence hike yesterday, but very enjoyable. This overlooks the confluence of the Green and Yampa rivers.
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Camping by the Yampa river, we had this spectacular sunset. Stargazing again was wonderful. We felt refreshed from splashing around in the river before dinner.
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An early morning hike on the Yampa. What a sight!
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We spent a couple nights near Steamboat Springs and hiked Rabbit Ears Pass, where this photo was taken.