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The Edge of The Needles

Southern Utah Wanderings | Wednesday, October 3, 2018

All the rain we had received the previous day made me a little bit nervous about trying to drive into Beef Basin, which was our original plan for today. I’ve driven that road in the rain before and it was a slippery mess. I didn’t want to have to do that again! So instead of heading into Beef Basin we decided to see if we could get a last-minute campsite in The Needles and drive over Elephant Hill instead. Since the Visitor’s Center didn’t open until 9:00am we slept in later than normal and took our time taking down camp. We arrived at the Visitor’s Center about ten minutes before they opened and there were already a bunch of people waiting to get in. When the doors opened we were the first ones in the Backcounty Office and found that one of the Bobby Jo campsites and the Horsehoof campsite were still open, which is the area we wanted to be in. I had never stayed at any of these sites before, so we decided to give Horsehoof a try for the next two nights. It turned out to be an excellent decision since I think Horsehoof is now one of my favorite campsites in all of Canyonlands National Park! Thankfully we got into the Backcountry Office for our permit when we did, because as we left there was a long line out the door!

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Petroglyphs of the Waterpocket Fold

Southern Utah Wanderings | Backcountry Petroglyphs of Capitol Reef
Monday – Tuesday, October 1-2, 2018

After spending Sunday evening and Monday morning in Salt Lake City it was finally time to start my annual October trip to southern Utah. I planned on starting off the week by searching for some remote and little-known petroglyphs hidden in the backcountry of Capitol Reef National Park with my friend Jared. On our drive back from Salt Lake City, Diane and I stopped at Dennis‘ house in Price to pick up my Jeep. I had left my Jeep there on Saturday morning so we wouldn’t have to drive both of our vehicles all the way to Salt Lake City and I wouldn’t have to go all the way back home to Grand Junction to get it afterwards. From Price Diane headed back home and I made my way over to Torrey where I would be meeting up with Jared who had already been hiking in Capitol Reef all weekend. One nice thing about driving from Price to Torrey was that it finally gave me an opportunity to drive Highway 72 from I-70 to Loa through the eastern edge of Fishlake National Forest.

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A Taste of Autumn in the West Elks

Fall Colors 2018 | Friday & Saturday, September 28-29, 2018

Aside from a quick unplanned evening on the Grand Mesa almost two weeks ago, my schedule at the end of September and early October didn’t really leave me much time for a proper Fall Colors weekend photography trip since I had a must-attend concert in Salt Lake City on Sunday evening and a river trip through Labyrinth Canyon the weekend before. Even with all the preparations for an upcoming week-long adventure into Utah I did manage to get out for a quick overnight trip to the West Elk Mountains after work on Friday. I just hoped that there was some color around for me to photograph during this narrow window of time in the mountains!

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Labyrinth Canyon: Ruby Ranch to Mineral Bottom

Thursday – Monday, September 20-24, 2018

I was pretty excited that it was finally time to get back on the river! I had been looking forward to this trip all summer since it’s been way too long since my last river trip and I was really missing floating through desert canyons. I’ve actually wanted to float this stretch of the Green River for a while now, and I was finally able to convince a few friends to go with me this year. I did most of the planning for this trip which would take us down about 45 miles of the Green River through Labyrinth Canyon from Ruby Ranch to Mineral Bottom. Even though it was a bad snow year in Colorado, the Wind Rivers had a pretty average snow year so the level of the Green River at 2,000cfs was pretty typical for this time of the year. There was originally supposed to be six of us in our group, but at the last minute my friend Jackson and his son had to drop out because his son got sick. This also changed our plans for the shuttle at the last minute since we wouldn’t need two vehicles at the end, so Chris ended up riding with me to Ruby Ranch after work while Steve and Nic would run the shuttle vehicle down to Mineral Bottom in the afternoon and we would all meet up in the evening.

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Grand Mesa Fall Colors 2018

Fall Colors 2018 | Sunday, September 16, 2018

After a quick trip up to Imogene Pass in the San Juan Mountains on Saturday morning I wasn’t planning on going anywhere else for the rest of the weekend. However, when I saw that the fall colors were looking pretty good this early in the season I figured it would be worth it to take a quick drive up onto the Grand Mesa later on Sunday afternoon to catch the sunset. It turned out to be a pretty good decision! Originally, I was planning on heading up to the Grand Mesa after work one day during the last week of September like I usually do, but now I’m sure if I had waited until then it probably would have been way too late! While there were still plenty of green trees up there, and there were also groups of trees that had already dropped most of their leaves, I thought there was a really good mix of colors that looked nice. I also saw more reds and oranges than I usually do up in this area. Here are a few photos from our evening on the Grand Mesa.

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