Christmas Weekend | Saturday & Sunday, December 22-23, 2018
After going on a day hike into the backcountry of Arches National Park last Saturday by myself, Diane and I planned a last minute trip to spend this weekend together around Moab. We drove over to Moab on Saturday morning and then went out arch-hunting, hiking, four-wheeling and just generally exploring the Behind The Rocks area west of Spanish Valley for the entire weekend. On Saturday I wanted to revisit a few nice arches that I had not seen since I drove through Pritchett Canyon way back in 2006, plus I wanted to find a few new ones. On Sunday we hiked up Pritchett Canyon from the bottom so we could visit Halls Bridge Arch since we were not able to get down to it from above the day before. The weather on Saturday was very nice with clear blue skies, plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the lower 50’s, while Sunday morning was mostly overcast during most of our hike and a bit colder, too.
We started out the weekend by visiting Balcony Arch at Lone Rock (Prostitute Butte).
Then we stopped by Picture Frame Arch on the other side of the same butte.
After a long bumpy drive we started hiking up the trail to Pritchett Arch.
Diane hikes ahead of me as we went searching for arches.
I climbed up for a closer look at Cummings Arch.
Then we arrived at the massive Pritchett Arch.
It has been a long time since I’ve seen this arch from the Pritchett Canyon Trail, and it was very impressive up close.
From Pritchett Arch we hiked across the shallow canyon to see Wigwam Arch. We were unable to climb any closer so this is the best view we could get through it.
Next we set off cross-country to see if we could find a way to Halls Bridge Arch from above. The hike involved crossing a large expanse of colorful sandstone.
We managed to get to this viewpoint above the arch and then tried to find a way down. We didn’t have any success.
I bushwhacked my way through a narrow slot canyon to try and reach the arch and got pretty close to the end, but I was stopped by this last 15 foot drop. Even if I had been able to get down this one, it looks like the canyon gets too narrow for me to squeeze through, anyways…
Since it was getting late in the day and we had a few other plans, we had to give up and hike back across the sandstone to my Jeep at the trailhead.
We made a quick stop to check out Hunter Bridge which was in the shadows at the head of Hunter Canyon. There was also a deep pool carved into the sandstone below this bridge which was filled with water.
Before heading back to town we went on one last hike to visit this unusual and small ruin built on the side of this angled boulder in a large alcove.
It’s an unusual structure and I’ve seen it referred to as a granary or even a burial site since there are human bones inside. It’s certainly not like any granary I’ve ever seen before, so I’d lean toward the latter.
By now it was getting late in the day so it was time to head back to town.
The La Sal Mountains coming into view as we headed back toward the pavement.
Very nice evening light on the sandstone fins in the foreground and the La Sal Mountains in the background with a fresh coat of snow.
A closer look at Mount Tukuhnikivatz and La Sal Pass.
We took a short spur road to the rim of Kane Springs Canyon just before sunset. Hurrah Pass is located at the upper left.
The last light of the day on the La Sal Mountains and the last photo I stopped to take.
Since we were unable to get a close look at Halls Bridge Arch on Saturday, we decided to hike up Pritchett Canyon on Sunday morning to visit it from below.
The sky was mostly overcast this morning as we started up Pritchett Canyon, but a little light did briefly break through the clouds just after sunrise.
We passed below Window Arch which is located right above the Rocker Knocker obstacle on the trail.
After following the rugged 4×4 road through Pritchett Canyon we left the road to find the arch.
It would be nice if the BLM would remove these unnecessary signs when they close a section of road…
We had no problem reaching Halls Bridge Arch from below and had a pretty nice view.
When we were hiking back down the canyon the clouds finally started to clear and the sun came out.
Following the road back down Pritchett Canyon.
A nice view as we hiked down the canyon.
Instead of hiking all the way back down Pritchett Canyon we climbed up a notch into a small canyon between fins to cross over into Kane Creek Canyon.
The view between the canyons.
We passed below Magic Theater Arch.
On our way down into Kane Creek Canyon we got to revisit a bunch of petroglyphs along the way before we returned to my Jeep and drove back home. It had been a really nice weekend exploring Behind The Rocks!