Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

Utah in April Trip Report (Zion, Arches and Canyonlands/Moab, Goblin Valley, Capitol Reef, Calf Creek/Staircase Escalante, Bryce, Zion Again, and Las Vegas

Utah in April Trip Report (Zion, Arches and Canyonlands/Moab, Goblin Valley, Capitol Reef, Calf Creek/Staircase Escalante, Bryce, Zion Again, and Las Vegas

Old May 1st, 2007, 03:32 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,690
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Utah in April Trip Report (Zion, Arches and Canyonlands/Moab, Goblin Valley, Capitol Reef, Calf Creek/Staircase Escalante, Bryce, Zion Again, and Las Vegas

Hi All!

This will be a long one so I'll try to do it in sections and post a link to some pictures if you want to have a look.

April 20, Friday.

We leave Las Vegas around 7pm after getting some groceries and headed to Zion. We stopped in Mesquite on the way for dinner at a mexican restaurant that was recommended by a gas station attendant (I had a taste for fajitas). It was reeeealllly good! It's called Los Lupes on West Mesquite Blvd. What a find. Their salsa was delish and that margarita was yummy!

At Zuin the next day, we had a late start and although we originally planned to do the Narrows hike that day, we opted to do Angel's landing instead. These were the 2 hikes we wanted to do for the limited time we had in Zion. Man, what a hike. It's a steep climb to the Scout lookout but the views are great. After a quick snack there, we tackled the more challenging extra half mile to angel's landing itself. It's not for the faint of heart! Alot of that is scrambling over rocks and most of it is hanging on dearly to those chains they have on the trail less you fall! It was great fun though and the views are oh so worth it. All in all, good first day hike.

The next day we had to change plans because we woke up to a cold rainy morning. No fun to be in the already cold Virgin river in that weather. So we decided to look at the weather forecast and decided to move things around so we can do the narrows hike at the end of our trip rather than the beginning. So we packed up our bags early and headed to Moab. 5 hour drive that took us about 4 1/2 going back up on I-15. Really strange though because we weren't prepared for cold weather at all and here we are passing the mountains (a pass right before the San Rafael Swell area) and it was snowing!!! Hmmm, better do some shopping at Moab then for some thermals. When we arrived at Moab that afternoon, it was considerably warmer than where we were (at the pass) but it was still cold and it was also drizzling/raining so we decided to do an auto tour of arches. I kept thinking how Edward Abbey would be so disappointed in us because he always said to "get out of your tin cans and walk the earth!" (or something like that). In any case, we had to make do. Hoping the next day would be better. That evening, we shopped for cold weather gear and has a beer and the most delicious beer battered onion rings at McStiffs. Moab is such a nice little town and so after that, we walked back to our rented apartment and made salmon with salad for dinner.

Click here for pictures of Zion. Will stop here and add the next day along with pictures tomorrow. Happy reading!

http://share.shutterfly.com/action/w...AbMXLFmzctWLiY
maria_so is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2007, 08:07 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,267
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great pictures Maria, can't wait to read more!
owlwoman is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2007, 10:12 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,690
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks Owlwoman.

Well the next day proved to be worse. It rained cats and dogs until about 3pm. We decided to sleep in and at noon, we got up to just hang out in the town but it was rainign so bad, that getting out of the car to the coffee shop could prove to get us only wet. So we waited out the rain. At 3;30, it somewhat stopped raining enough for us to venture out and head into Arches. We were only able to do the hike to Delicate Arch before sunset.

Here are pics of the auto touring we did the day before and the hike to arches the next day.

http://share.shutterfly.com/action/w...AbMXLFmzctWLkA

We were sad to have missed almost an entire day but the weather was looking better. We even got a rainbow at the end of the day.

The next day, we were scheduled to go canyoneering with Desert Highlight at Lomatium Canyon. Trust me, it was great. I'll prepare pictures now and post that part of the trip this evening.
maria_so is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2007, 10:17 AM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,690
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oh, forgot to say, I know it's going slow but that's the end of the slow days. The next days are filled with exciting adventures. Stay tuned!
maria_so is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2007, 11:03 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 4,285
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Loving your report!
Dohlice is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2007, 05:23 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,690
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks Dohlice. Didn't know if anyone was reading so thanks for responding. Anyway, I'm happy to relive the days. It was a fantastic trip!

Ok, so now it's Tuesday and it is still cold outside early in the morning and still overcast. Was worried about the weather but it did promise sunshine in the afternoon so we head out to meet our guide at Desert Highlights. We had originally planned to do the Plaiedes trip which was a 7 waterfall rappell but that was at 8000 feet and with all that snow visible on the mountain from the town, we opted to do something drier. Good thing too because as I said, it was cold out that morning.

We met the owner Matt and he introduced us to Zack who was our guide for the day. We drove separately since we planned to do see Landscape arch after canyoneering so it saves us about an hour of driving back and forth.

Let me digress a bit here and tell you that when we first arrived in Moab, we had stopped by Arches visitor center to sign up for one of their 2 daily ranger tours in fiery furnace for the next couple of days since you can't get in there on your own. It's $10 and only at 9:30 am and 4pm. We couldn't get any and they won't give you a permit if you haven't been before. Now I know why and wouldn't even ask even if we have gone! It would be sooooo easy to get lost in there. This was before we knew that Lomatium canyon (the tour advertised in desert highlights and one we eventually signed up for after Plaiedes), was INSIDE fiery furnace. See, everything works out! I was so pleased to find this out this morning!

Ok, so after the 10 min video on intro to fiery furnace and the warning about the cryptobiotic soil, we head out and start our canyoneering. I'll let the pictures tell the story but all in all, it was 7 hours long and we veered far far away from the trail the ranger takes. It was alot of scrambling, climbing, hiking, and testing of yourself. A full body and mind workout, if you will. Honestly, I never knew I was even slightly scared of heights! I've always been one who wants to one day sky dive! So I was really surprised when some of the down bits freaked me out. It was really good to test myself and I was really proud of myself at the end of that day. (Odd because I've rappelled before - 5 years or so ago and at 100ft or so too) This included 2 rappells. One for 120 feet and the other for 40. All throughout this time, we never saw or heard anyone else in there. It was beautifully quiet.

Take a look at pics. I'll continue on tonight with Lanscape arch with some pictures.

http://share.shutterfly.com/action/w...AbMXLFmzctWLow

The next day, Wednesday, we tackled the Needles district of Canyonlands and the best hike I have done (Elephant Hill nad Chesler Park). So stay tuned!

maria_so is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2007, 05:26 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 861
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Really enjoying your trip report. We're planning another visit this fall!
sharondi is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2007, 05:46 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,421
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you so much for your terrific reports!

My husband travels to Ogden frequently on business and has been urging me to go with him. I think I'll start planning an extra week!
djkbooks is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2007, 06:43 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 466
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for sharing. I wouldn't dare to do the same things you did. But just because no one posts a reply to your post, don't assume that no one is reading and enjoying them. We are, but just silent.
RuthMc is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2007, 07:23 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,754
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Maria,

Loving your report! Can't wait for the rest......
Dayle is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2007, 09:53 PM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,690
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oh WOw! I didn't know you guys were reading! Good to hear from you and glad you're liking the report. Trust me, I love reliving the days!

Ok so a brief one for the moment so I can work on the photos from the Needles Hike - my favorite (well, it's a different favorite since I liked the Narrow's hike alot too...and then there was Calf Creek....oi!).

So to finish the day (and before we went and had the celebratory wings and beer at the Moab Brewery, we wanted to visit Devil's garden to see Landscape Arch and do the primitive hike. However, we were so tired that all we managed was the maintained trails so here are the pics of the arches we saw. By this time (at 3:30), the weather changed drastically from the iffy cold sort of raining on and off morning to this glorious beautifl sunny day - and it was getting warmer too. Time to take the top down of the convertible we rented!

Here are the pics. Back in a few for the Needles bit.



Thanks for staying tuned!

Oh, and DJKBooks, don't waste another day! I LOVE UTah. There's so many things to see there and such a varied landscape from mountains to deserts. I wish I could call Utah home! You're lucky your hbby travels there! I would definitely tag along everytime!
maria_so is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2007, 10:00 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,690
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ooooops. In all my excitement, I forgot to post the link!!!

http://share.shutterfly.com/action/w...AbMXLFmzctWLq4
maria_so is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2007, 12:11 AM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,690
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi All,

Ok I'll continue while pictures are loading.

So from the map, Needles doesn't look that far from Moab so we sort of take our time getting ready. Because we're getting married in August, we've also placed ourselves in a sort of diet (to look good in the wedding pictures of course) so we've opted to rent an apartment in Moab to control the food we eat. To be honest, I've been to Moab before and I have not really experienced great food so we agreed before the trip to limit 2 really great dinners out during this trip - one at Cafe Diablo in Capitol Reef that's only open seasonally, and the other is for his belated birthday dinner in Las Vegas at the end of the trip. So when I say we take our time to get ready, I meant I took time making breakfast that morning and preparing our wraps for lunch. That day I made seared beef steak with sauteed onions and portabella mushrooms with spring greens and bean sprouts all wrapped up in a tortilla. Let me know if you want the recipe, it's really easy and really handy for packing it up tightly for those small camelbak pockets!

Sorry, I do digress. So it was about 11:30 when we left Moab and with the top down of the convertible, we head out into what would seem to be an endless drive to the needles district of Canyonlands. It was 2pm before we left the visitor's center and 2:30 by the time we got off of the dirt road to elephant hill and close to 3pm to start our hike. The ranger warned us it takes around 5-7 hours for the hike but thought we looked fit enough (little did he know!) to get iT done sooner rather than later AND that sunset was around 8pm so we should be ok - he thought. Optimistic people that we are, we take the chance and although we didn't make it back to the car until 9:30 (yes, it was dark) that night and the last almost 2 miles by the light of the moon, we are really glad we took the chance. Here's why...

The hike started going up (surprise, surprise)but with immediate gratification. Wow, it was great up there and the needles look so close! Then it went through some downhill climbs, winding uphill climbs, navigationg through dense rocks, narrow passages, and places where you think "Hmmm, the cairns must be misplaced because it looks from here that the cairns are leading me off that canyon!". This is when you realize you have to get on your behind, scoot down to some ungodly unreachable rock and hope you don't slip while you're at it. It was absolutely fantastic and that's just the first 1/3rd of the hike! Then after foraying into a dry river bed and up a precarious "hill" (of rocks about a mile high) it opens up into flat area and you realize why it's called Chesler PARK. I had visions of New York's Central Park with the rocks as the buildings. Then you scramble some more and join up with the 4x4 trail to Joint Trail. Now sorry folks but when it got here, I kind of went crazy with the photos. I absolutely loved this part. You basically go through for about a mile in this really narrow passage between 2 tall flat rocks (similar but much larger to the fins in Arches). Wow, it is amazing in there. We had met a backpacker that was going the other direction and had just gone through there. He said "you guys will love it in there. It's so cool (literally) and it will just simply blow your mind." He was right.

After joint trail, the sun was obviously setting but I couldn't help but take pictures of the rocks. The shadows they cast against the other nearby rocks was intoxicating to watch. As the beginning of the trail, alot of the return was the same scrambling up and down and to places where you are sure you just can't make it through but apart from the fact that it was obvious we will be in the dark at the latter part of the trail and we had no head lights or flashlights, the beauty of the place, the gorgeous sunset, it was all very calming and I didn't find myself panicked at all. Then, as it got darker and darker something really magical happened. The moon seemed to be brighter than the sun and we could actually see the cairns and follow the trail back. (In a similar situation at the teepee rocks hike in New Mexico, I was a little panicked coming back in the dark and it wasn't even that long of a hike!) I have to say that I don't think we could've done this without our trusty trekking poles. They helped us feel out the rock steps so we could safely step down and up. At 9:30, we safely made it back to the car but before getting in, we took a moment to cherish the beauty of the desert in the moonlight and realize that nature gives us everything we need if we open our eyes enough to "see". I thought of the first inhabitants of this place and how they use to maneuver at night. Amazing to know we still have it in us even though we don't know it's there most of the time.

We made it back to Moab at around 11:30. On the way out of the park, we stopped in plenty of time to avoid 2 antelopes crossing the road. What a day and what an even better night. We had time to quickly shower, make some pesto pasta with mushrooms and pepper, watch a little tv and sleep the sleep of the dead.

Take a look at the pics here if you like. Sorry it's alot. I seemed to have clicker fingers on this hike and I can't seem to pick and choose jst a few unlike the other albums so far. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pics as much as I enjoyed this hike.

share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=0AbMXLFmzctWLsg

Tomorrow I will work on getting the pictures for Islands in the sky district of Canyonlands, Dead Horse Point, and Goblin Valley so I can post the trip report. I adored Goblin Valley and wish that our nieces and nephews can come see this place. When we have kids one day, we will definitely take them here first (before Disneyworld/Disneyland).
maria_so is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2007, 12:28 AM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,690
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sorry, that link seems to be out of order. Try this one....

http://share.shutterfly.com/action/w...AbMXLFmzctWLuo
maria_so is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2007, 03:44 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 4,285
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My husband is afraid of heights, so no canyoneering for us. I hope we can get that ranger walk through Fiery Furnace.
Dohlice is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2007, 04:31 AM
  #16  
FLmom
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Lovin' it, great pics and narative.
 
Old May 3rd, 2007, 04:34 AM
  #17  
FLmom
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
oh, yea, I forgot to ask for your wrap recipe...sounds terrific! gt;)
 
Old May 3rd, 2007, 04:36 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 861
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Chesler Park looks awesome, maria_so! Your trip report has us questioning our latest itinerary. We were going to skip Moab this time and stick to a route that spends much of our time between Bryce and Capitol Reef. But now we're rethinking that......hmmmm. We have not been to Needles yet - only went in as far as Newspaper Rock. Thanks for the great information - looking forward to more!
sharondi is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2007, 05:28 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 8,586
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Maria - we've been to southern Utah 3 times, and there is still so much we'd like to see!

I'd like to see Newspaper Rock and we haven't been to Capitol Reef yet.

There is so much neat stuff to do in this area - when I came back from our last trip I was so energized from all the stuff we saw and did and I can see that you are feeling the same way. Thanks for the report - I just briefly read it, but look forward to checking out your pictures and report more closely.
karens is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2007, 05:45 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,739
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
What a great report and pics maria, thanks so much for posting.

We've been to this area many times, and always find something new to explore. Its almost addicting! Looking forward to your next installment.
ellen_griswold is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -