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The Needles Overlook & Slickrock Bike Trail

Saturday & Sunday, January 25-26, 2020

After spending a couple hours at the Ouray Ice Festival in the morning it was time to head west into Utah so I could get some hiking in the desert in this weekend. From Ridgway I crossed the Dallas Divide and followed the San Miguel River to Norwood, then crossed a couple large valleys and the Dolores River on my way to Dove Creek and finally stopped in Monticello for an early dinner. From there I was originally planning on heading into The Needles for the evening and was thinking about hiking the short Slickrock or Pothole Point trails to hopefully catch a nice sunset. However, as I was driving down Highway 211 I quickly decided I didn’t feel like driving all that way for a short hike and turned around at Photograph Gap. Instead, I thought it would be nice to spend the evening at the Needles Overlook in the Canyon Rims Recreation Area since it’s been a long time since I visited that viewpoint at the edge of Hatch Point. This turned out to be an excellent last minute change of plans!

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Christmas in Arches 2019

Christmas Day | Wednesday, December 25, 2019

It’s Christmas time again and that means it’s time for our annual Christmas trip to Arches National Park! We left home early on Wednesday morning and headed west into Utah during the tail end of a winter storm that left a little snow, ice and fog in its wake. This slowed down our drive just a little bit, but we still made it to Arches in about two hours. We headed straight to the Devils Garden Trailhead so we could start off the day with our annual hike to Landscape Arch to make sure it’s still standing after another year.

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Otho Natural Bridge & Mill Creek Canyon

Moab Winter Weekend: Arch Hunting & Ancient Petroglyphs
Saturday & Sunday, December 21-22, 2019

This weekend Diane and I headed over to Moab to search for arches and rock art, like we usually do at this time of the year. The weather can be unpredictable at the end of December, but we lucked out this weekend with comfortable hiking temperatures during the day and no snow or ice on the ground yet. I’ve wanted to visit Otho Natural Bridge for many years so I made that a priority this trip and we headed there first thing on Saturday morning. I had originally planned to hike up the North Fork of Mill Creek from the bottom to reach the arch, but we were stopped by a deep water crossing near the confluence of the two forks of Mill Creek. I had hiked this canyon before from the bottom without getting wet before, but it appears there are new beaver dams along the creek which have made that impossible now. We weren’t prepared to get wet this time in these temperatures, so we turned around and drove up into the Sand Flats Recreation Area to find another way down into the canyon instead. I’d never been up this far into this canyon before and the views and scenery were beautiful as we searched for a route into the canyon. I think I ended up liking this route into the canyon more than the one I had originally planned!

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Island in the Sky: Taylor Canyon & Upheaval Canyon

End of Trails at the Island in the Sky
Friday – Sunday, December 13-15, 2019

After I finished hiking all of the official trails in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park last year, I decided in November that I was going to do the same with the official trails in the Island in the Sky. At the time I had hiked most of the trails on top of the Island, but had not hiked any that went down to the White Rim. Well, after four more trips to the Island in the Sky over the past two months (Over the Edge, From West to East, Syncline Loop Trail) I have now finished that goal this weekend with the Alcove Spring Trail on Sunday morning. But don’t worry, just because I have now hiked all the official trails in the Island in the Sky doesn’t mean that I won’t be returning to this district of Canyonlands since there is plenty of backcountry to keep exploring! As a matter of fact, I already have permits for a trip planned in early February that I am looking forward to.

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Island in the Sky: Syncline Loop Trail

Friday & Saturday, December 6-7, 2019

After spending two weekends hiking at the Island in the Sky last month it was time to return again so I could continue working my way through the rest of the official trails there. I had originally planned on heading back for a day trip on Sunday this weekend, but the weather wasn’t looking good that day so I changed my plans on Thursday. I left right after work on Friday, spent the night outside of Canyonlands National Park and then got an early start hiking the Syncline Loop Trail on Saturday morning. I’ve wanted to hike this trail which circumnavigates Upheaval Dome for a long time and was really looking forward to this one!

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