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Weekend Wandering Along the Waterpocket Fold

Canyons of the Waterpocket Fold | Another Birthday Weekend in Capitol Reef National Park
President’s Day Weekend | Friday – Monday, February 12-15, 2021

I guess you could say I have a love for exploring the long sandstone monoclines that are found on the Colorado Plateau. I’ve already spent some quality time along Comb Ridge and the San Rafael Reef this year, so I figured it was about time I got back to the Waterpocket Fold in Capitol Reef National Park. Aside from last year, I typically spend the three-day holiday weekend after my birthday in Capitol Reef, so this seemed like the perfect time to get back again this year! I left straight from work on Friday afternoon and headed west into Utah. The sunset was looking like it was going to be good shortly after I passed through Green River, so I turned off onto the Old Highway 24 between the San Rafael River and Green River to take a few photos.

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The White Rim: Airport Tower to Monument Basin

Friday – Sunday, February 5-7, 2021

While I had an amazing time supporting Diane and Jared as they biked the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park last October, I didn’t quite have enough time on that trip to get in all the hiking that I had wanted to do because they were riding faster than I had anticipated! Since I had a backpacking trip to The Needles last spring that was cancelled because of COVID and I needed to reschedule that permit or lose in the next few months, I thought it would be nice to head back on my own to the east side of the White Rim so I could make up the hikes I had skipped out on. Last year the weather for our hike from the White Crack to The Confluence in early February was very nice, so I thought I would head back the same weekend this year, too.

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Canyons of the San Rafael Reef

Black Dragon Wash to Ernie Canyon
Friday – Sunday, January 29-31, 2021

Over the past couple of years I’ve spent a weekend in January exploring the canyons of the San Rafael Reef at the edge of the San Rafael Swell just west of Green River. I guess I’ve continued to do this each year because it’s an easy drive from home and it doesn’t really matter if there is snow on the ground or not. Plus, it’s just a great place to explore anytime! With this weekend being the last one in January and the weather looking good, I thought that it would be nice to keep up the tradition and headed back to the San Rafael Reef! As usual, I left right from work on Friday afternoon and drove west on I-70 until I reached the San Rafael Reef. Just before driving through Spotted Wolf Canyon on the interstate, I took a side road to the north and found a place to camp near the mouth of Black Dragon Canyon. For a brief time there was a little light snow that fell, but it didn’t stick and stopped just as quickly as it had started. As soon as the clouds dissipated the light from the Wolf Moon filled the canyon.

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Around The Block: Red Benches to The Cove

The Chinese Trail, Mille Crag Bend and West Fork of Rock Canyon
Friday – Sunday, January 22-24, 2021

Late Friday evening a winter storm was forecast to move across the Colorado Plateau and into the mountains of Colorado that was supposed to stick around until Tuesday and bring much-needed moisture to the area. Leading up to the weekend I kept a close eye on the weather forecast and it seemed like the area around Hite would be the best location to get in some hiking during the days while avoiding precipitation. Heading that direction this weekend sounded like a great idea to me since there are plenty of places around the Dirty Devil Country that I’ve wanted to explore and camping in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area near Hite would allow me to visit a few of those places surrounding The Block.

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Back to the Mojave: The Pahranagat Valley

Rock Art of the Basin and Range National Monument II
Thursday – Monday, January 15-18, 2021

Even though my heart belongs to the Colorado Plateau, I do occasionally like to get out to the Mojave Desert at least once each year, especially during the colder months at home! Back at the beginning of last year I had started making plans to return to Death Valley National Park this holiday weekend, but since COVID is hitting California hard right now and they are asking for out-of-state visitors to stay away, I honored their request and decided to visit the Pahranagat Valley in Nevada instead. I got my first taste of the Pahranagat Valley on my way home from the White Mountains in September, but it was much too hot out for me at the time, so I vowed to return in cooler temperatures. I didn’t think I would be coming back so soon, but I was looking forward to returning again so I could explore this large valley where the northern Mojave Desert and the Great Basin intersect!

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