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Rediscovering the Colorado National Monument

Colorado National Monument Sign

I used to spend a lot of time hiking, exploring and photographing in the Colorado National Monument, but over the last few years I’ve found myself spending less and less time there. I guess it’s no surprise that I enjoy exploring new places, though. However, for the first time in a while I actually don’t have any recent photos to submit to the annual Colorado National Monument calendar. I’ve decided that I want to do something about it this year since this amazing park is practically in my backyard! While I’ve spent a lot of time hiking in the backcountry to get to know this part of the Colorado Plateau a little better, I thought it might be nice to hike every single trail in the park again this year to help me reconnect. While there are a few trails in the Monument that I hike almost every year, there are also many that I haven’t been on in a long time and I think it’s time to return.

Diane and I will be starting this journey together with our annual New Years Day hike of the Wedding Canyon Loop today. I’m creating this post to make myself accountable to this goal which will hopefully help motivate me to finish it! We are hoping to hike most of the trails after work during the week (aside from the longer ones) which will help keep our weekends open so we can continue to explore new areas then. Of course, that means we probably won’t really get started going on this list until the days start getting longer in the spring.

Below is a list of all the trails that we plan to hike at some point this year. I will update the list with the completed dates and add links to each Trip Report as we check them off the list!

  • Kodels Canyon (1-13-19)
  • Fruita Dugway
  • Lizard Canyon
  • Alcove Nature Trail (1-6-19)
  • Black Ridge Trail
  • Window Rock Trail
  • Saddlehorn
  • Canyon Rim Trail
  • Otto’s Trail
  • Wedding Canyon Trail (1-1-19)
  • The Island
  • Monument Canyon Trail
  • CCC Trail
  • White Rocks
  • Gold Star Canyon
  • Otto’s Staircase
  • Precambrian Bench Trail (Ute Trail)
  • Artist’s Point
  • Coke Ovens Trail
  • Mushroom Rock Trail
  • Otto’s Bathtub
  • Liberty Cap Trail
  • Corkscrew Trail ***
  • Ute Canyon Trail
  • Ute Garden Interpretive Trail
  • Red Canyon / Columbus Canyon
  • Serpent’s Trail
  • Devil’s Kitchen
  • No Thoroughfare Canyon
  • Old Gordon Trail
  • Echo Canyon


*** Currently the Corkscrew Trail is closed due to a rock slide that has damaged the trail. Hopefully it will be open again later this year, otherwise we will have to skip this trail this time.


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My Ten Favorite Trip Reports of 2018

There is less than a week until the end of the year, so I think now is a good time to look back and choose my ten favorite trip reports from 2018. As usual, we went on a lot of great trips this year so it was difficult to choose only a few, but these ten trip reports below really stood out the most from all the rest. Click on the title to see the full trip report and enjoy!

If you are interested in checking out my favorite trip reports from previous years, you can find those here:  [2017]  [2016]  [2015]  [2014]  [2013]  [2012]  [2011]


Even though these are two separate trip reports, they are both from an amazing weekend spent on the Paria Plateau so I am counting them as one on this list. Not only did I get to photograph some colorful sandstone and geology, but I also made one of my most exciting discoveries!


After spending the past few Memorial Day weekends in The Maze, we decided to push this years trip up to the beginning of April since it’s been getting pretty warm by the end of May. We invited our friend Marty along and had a great time in the Land of Standing Rocks!


This backpacking trip allowed me to hike the only remaining section of Grand Gulch between UT 95 and the San Juan River that I had not been though yet. It was an amazing trip with plenty of rock art and ruins to see along the way!


While photography wasn’t really my main goal for much of the year, this weekend was an exception and I had a great time photographing the badlands of Utah in the country surrounding the Muddy Creek.


Inhaling thick smoke from the 416 Fire with ash raining down on us probably wasn’t the best for our lungs during this overnight backpacking trip, but the sunset from in the Weminuche Wilderness was pretty spectacular! Although, our tent and gear smelled like smoke for much of the rest of the year after this trip.

Spending a night near Blue Lake in the Raggeds Wilderness has been on my list for a number of years and I was happy to finally make it there this summer. It was a nice overnight trip and I even manged to climb a peak while we were there!


This summer we wanted to go on our first backpacking trip into the High Uintas Wilderness of northern Utah, and we figured that we might as well climb Utah’s highest mountain while we were there!


A river trip through Labyrinth Canyon has been on my to-do list for a long time, so when I was finally able to make it happen this summer I couldn’t have been more excited! The weather was great, there were lots of interesting things to see and I had an amazing time!


This was a great day in Canyonlands. Not only did we find some cool stuff while exploring a remote section of the park, but we also got to watch an amazing sunrise and sunset, too!


When I noticed the road into Horse Canyon was actually open again, I just had to plan a last-minute weekend trip there. It turned out to be a great weekend spent with good friends in Canyonlands National Park. What else could you ask for?


Below are four runners-up that just didn’t quite make the top ten list.

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