Thursday – Sunday, March 12-15, 2020
This year for our annual early season backpacking trip to The Needles we returned to one of my favorite places on the Colorado Plateau- Salt Creek Canyon. Although I have spent a lot of time in this canyon over the years, Diane had never been here before, so I was looking forward to showing her around on her first visit and searching for new traces of the ancient ones that called this canyon home. Instead of it being just the two of us, this time we also invited our friend Jerry along since I know he’s always up for a nice walk through Salt Creek Canyon. We planned to meet up with him on Friday morning at the Visitor Center since I had to stop there to pick up the permit that I had reserved online four months in advance.
After attending a concert in Salt Lake City on Wednesday evening, we spent the night in a hotel and then left the city on Thursday morning to drive down to The Needles. We set up camp at our usual spot outside the park and then drove down the Colorado River Overlook Road so we could go on a quick hike to the Lower Jump of Salt Creek. After that we watched the sunset from along the Pothole Point Trail before returning to our campsite after dark.
Danger: Control All Children
Although I have driven right by here on the road to the Colorado River Overlook a few times before, this was the first time I took the time to walk over to the Lower Jump of Salt Creek for a closer look.
We spent the evening watching the sunset from along the Pothole Point Trail.
A nice view of The Needles in the distance when a little light broke free of the clouds.
A sunset view from Pothole Point with the La Sal Mountains just peeking up over Hatch Point and the Needles Overlook.
Although the weather forecast for the weekend was looking pretty nice, Friday’s forecast was another story. The forecast for Friday was calling for rain and storms all day beginning overnight. The rain started very early in the morning as predicted, but we got lucky and it stopped briefly around sunrise which allowed us to pack up our tent and gear without getting soaked. While we were packing up a person who had camped nearby came over and asked if we could pull out their van which was stuck in sand. We drove over and had no problem getting them unstuck, and then we drove over to the Visitor Center where we met up with Jerry. Once the Backcountry Office opened we stopped inside to pick up our permit for the weekend. While we were doing that it really started to rain pretty hard out again. We waited inside the Visitor Center for a little while until the rain finally started to die down. Once it did, we headed over to the gate near Cave Spring to start hiking and take our chances with the weather. There were dark clouds all around us as we started the hike, but we lucked out and would only encounter a little drizzle when we reached Peekaboo. The conditions turned out to be much better than the forecast had indicated! We had brought along our rain gear but never needed to use it all weekend…
Watching a nice sunset from a sandstone bench above Salt Creek Canyon.
West Side Campsite: A great place to spend our first night in the canyons.
This large pictograph panel was very impressive and a highlight of the weekend. It was painted above a ruin that is now mostly collapsed.
Here’s a view from the other side.
Of course, there are a lot of white dots which are pretty common in this region.
The Shark Fin
Diane noticed that the handprint on the left appears to have six fingers.
Hiking through Trail Arch
This large basketmaker petroglyph was one of my favorite finds of the trip since petroglyphs seem to be pretty rare in Salt Creek, especially ones this large!
We revisited one of my favorite pictograph panels and waited around for the good light.
Wall of Hands
A beautiful view in warm evening light.
This is another favorite pictograph that I was happy to return to.
Watching the sunset through an arch with a small ruin underneath.
A few crude pictographs that we came across. There were more to the right that were harder to see.
Strolling along the sandstone next to a creek in a side canyon.
Three Little Pictographs
These handprints were smaller than most of the others in this area.
Concentric Circles Guy
Our second night was spent at one of the Peekaboo campsites, which I’ve stayed at a number of times before.
This was another new panel we found on this trip. I’m not sure if the figure on the right would be classified as Barrier Canyon Style or not? What do you think?
Little White Panel
A sandstone tower along Salt Creek.
Two white anthropomorphs and a pair of red handprints.
Here’s a nice natural bridge that I stumbled upon while wandering around our first campsite.
Diane spotted these remains of a small granary in a little cubby hole from across the canyon.
Red & Yellow Handprints
I climbed up the ladder near Peekaboo to watch the sunset on our second night in the canyon.
We visited a new ‘faces‘ panel this trip, too. This time it was the Seven Faces!
Here’s a photo looking straight at them that’s cropped for a closer look.
Dark Clouds Over Sandstone
The Flying Carpet Panel
Vibrant Red & White Handprints
Four Little Guys
Morning along the Peekaboo Trail
This is an inaccessible granary that Jerry and I have walked by multiple times and never noticed, until Diane spotted it this trip. There’s even a door still in place!
There seemed to be plenty of water around.
Jerry walking across a loose ledge to some crude ruins.
Circle of Triangles
A lovely view above Salt Creek Canyon.
Here’s a Barrier Canyon Style panel that I’ve been wanting to visit for many years, so I was glad to finally make it here!
An obligatory photo of the popular pictographs found at Peekaboo.
Just a nice little granary.
Row of Hands
Salt Creek Arch
A nice petroglyph panel we revisited.
The cliffs of Hatch Point in the distance shortly before sunset.