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After Work Adventures

Kokopelli Loops: Troy Built Loop to Salt Creek

After Work Adventures | Thursday & Tuesday, November 16 & 21, 2023

After hiking the Lion’s Loop Trail to its junction with the Troy Built Loop on Tuesday, I thought it might be a good idea to return to the Kokopelli Loops after work on Thursday afternoon so I could finish hiking the Troy Built Trail, especially since a storm had just moved through the area earlier in the day and left some nice clouds in the sky. I thought that there had been enough time for the road to the top of Mack Ridge to dry out, but as ...

Kokopelli Loops: Lion's Loop to Troy Built Loop

After Work Adventures | Tuesday, November 14, 2023

After work this afternoon I returned for the third straight week in a row to the Kokopelli Loops on Mack Ridge so I could hike yet another section of the Kokopelli Trail. This time I started out from the Lions Trailhead between Loma and Mack and followed the Lion’s Loop Trail for about three miles to it’s junction with the Troy Built Trail and then returned the way I had come. This trail followed a bench above the Colorado River in Horsethief Canyon which offered some nice views along the way, especially ...

Kokopelli Loops: Wrangler Loop & Mary's Loop

After Work Adventures | Tuesday, November 7, 2023

After hiking the western ends of Mary’s Loop and the Wrangler Trail last week on Halloween, I returned to the Kokopelli Loops right after work today so I could finish hiking the eastern ends of both of those trails. Even though we just had the Daylight Savings Time change over the weekend and afternoon sunlight would be limited, I figured that this loop would be short enough and I would be able to squeeze it in before sunset. I started my hike near the Kokopelli Trailhead and followed the Wrangler Loop to ...

Kokopelli Loops: Mary's Loop & Wrangler Trail

After Work Adventures: Halloween Edition | Tuesday, October 31, 2023

With the Daylight Savings Time change coming up this weekend, I wanted to get out for one more longer hike after work this week before it really starts getting dark early and I thought it would be a good idea to head on over to the Kokopelli Loop Trails in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area located between Loma and Mack. Although I have hiked and mountain biked about half the trails in this system over the years, there are still some I have not been on before and I ...

Upper Ute Canyon to Suction Point

After Work Adventures | Tuesday, October 17, 2023

With each and every day quickly getting shorter and shorter at this time of the year, I only have a couple of weeks left where I can possibly squeeze in a few more After Work Adventures, so after work today I headed up into the Colorado National Monument to go on a short hike into upper Ute Canyon. Although I have hiked down through Ute Canyon from the upper trailhead a number of times before, this time I wanted to hiked up the canyon until I reached the large pour-over at Suction ...

Fall Colors on the Grand Mesa

After Work Adventures | Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Hard to believe, but I recently realized that it’s been five years since I last headed up onto the Grand Mesa to check out the Fall Colors, which was something I used to do almost every year at the end of September. With that in mind, even though I knew the autumn colors seemed to be running a bit behind this year, I decided to head up onto the Grand Mesa after work today for a short evening visit since it would be my only opportunity this week. Unfortunately, there was also ...

The Book Cliffs: Coal Gulch to Ross Ridge

After Work Adventures | Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Today after work I hopped into my Jeep so I could spend a couple hours in the Book Cliffs on a little After Work Adventure before heading home for the rest of the evening. After leaving work I drove over to Fruita and then followed 16 Road north to the foot of the Book Cliffs where I headed up the road through Coal Gulch and onto Garfield Mesa and Ross Ridge. While I was up there I hiked over to the highpoints of each of them. It’s been over 15 years since ...

Lizard Canyon in the Colorado National Monument

After Work Adventures | Tuesday, September 12, 2023

This afternoon I decided to head on over to the Colorado National Monument after work so I could go hiking into Lizard Canyon, which is the next short canyon located just north of Wedding Canyon and south of Fruita Canyon. Although I have hiked across the mouth of this canyon a couple of times before, usually during our traverses across the Face of the Monument, this is actually one of the few canyons left in the Monument that I have not hiked into before. I started the hike from the Lower Monument ...

Stinking Desert National Monument

After Work Adventures | Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Even though it was a little bit warmer out today than yesterday, I thought it would be a good time to head out after work so I could drive and hike to the top of a couple easy highpoints and overlooks located in the desert between Grand Junction, Delta, the Grand Mesa and the Gunnison River, and maybe even catch the sunset before heading home. This is an area that longtime locals affectionately (or maybe it’s not so affectionate) call the Stinking Desert. I’ve heard stories from long before my time living ...

Rattlesnake Canyon: West Rim Arch (Finger Arch)

After Work Adventures | Tuesday, September 5, 2023

This morning as I was leaving home on my way to work I noticed that there was a coolness to the air that I haven’t felt for a couple of months down in the Grand Valley. It certainly felt like fall is finally on the way! Since the temperature stayed nice throughout the rest of the day I thought it would be a great afternoon to go for a local hike when I got out of work. I stopped home at lunch to grab my hiking gear and then left from work ...

Plateau Creek: Spring Runoff from the Grand Mesa

Fleming Point to Big Wash | Average CFS: 1,385
After Work Adventures | Tuesday, May 23, 2023

While Jackson and I were floating through Little Yampa Canyon a few days ago we were talking about where we wanted to go next and decided that it was finally time for us to paddle down Plateau Creek after work this week. This is a creek that is very close to home that we have wanted to check out for quite a long time, but some years it’s hard to catch enough water to make it happen during the short spring runoff window ...

Rabbits Ear Mesa in Rabbit Valley

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

This afternoon I headed out to the edge of Rabbit Valley on another After Work Adventure so I could hike hike around the rim of Rabbits Ear Mesa and enjoy the expansive views above the Colorado River and Ruby Canyon. I haven’t hiked the Rabbits Ear Trail since 2015 and was looking forward to returning since every time I drive by on I-70, which is pretty frequently, I think to myself that I should go back and hike it again. Of course, all throughout the day there were nice clouds in the sky, but as soon ...

Return to the High Trail & Opal Hill

Canyons of the Black Ridge Wilderness | Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Well, just like last year it appears that I’ve been slacking on my After Work Adventures again this spring, but part of the reason for that is the wet weather we had been having around here for a while. To remedy this situation I decided to head out after work this afternoon for a repeat hike of the High Trail in the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness since it’s one I’ve been wanting to get back to for a while now. During the day I almost cancelled the hike since ...

The Gunnison River: Redlands Dam to Dos Rios Park

The Grand Junction of the Gunnison River and Colorado River | Estimated CFS: 460
Summer Solstice | Tuesday, June 21, 2022

After floating part of the Gunnison River from Whitewater to the Redlands Dam with Jackson a little over a week ago, we knew that we would have to come back with our packrafts to float the short section from the Redlands Dam down to the confluence with the Colorado River since it’s one of the remaining few sections below Pleasure Park that neither of us had done yet. After figuring out a date that our schedules aligned, we planned ...

Edna Mine & Devils Canyon Overlook

Canyons of the Black Ridge Wilderness | Tuesday, April 19, 2022

I’ve really been slacking on my After Work Adventures for a while now and had really hoped to change that this spring, but so far I haven’t got out for one hike during the week this year. Well, that finally changed today when I left after work and headed back up into the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness to search for the Edna Mine, which is an old Uranium mine found near the head of Devils Canyon that was active during the 1950’s and 1960’s. The temperature was into the ...

Lonesome Lips Arch & Horsethief Canyon Overlook

Canyons of the Black Ridge Wilderness | Thursday, May 7, 2020

This evening I headed out after work again to continue my local arch hunting endeavors within the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness. I drove over Black Ridge for the second time this week, but this time I continued all the way to the Rattlesnake Arches Trailhead at the very end of the road. I had no intentions of visiting the popular arches in Rattlesnake Canyon this evening, instead, I was going to look for the lesser-known Lonesome Lips Arch which is located at the edge of a small mesa above ...

The Search for Goblin Gulch

Canyons of the Black Ridge: Trailing the Ghosts and Gnomes of Goblin Gulch
Tuesday, May 5, 2020

When Will Minor started to hunt for a small band of strayed Angora goats he little dreamed he soon would have cause to forget them. As he entered a tiny canyon he suddenly came face to face with the weirdest collection of natural forms he ever had seen. The soft white sandstone of the canyon walls was covered with faces and figures—some animal, some human, some resembling modernistic sculpture and others like nightmarish creatures which only a writer of horror fiction could conceive.

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Ribbon Canyon Narrows

Bangs Canyon Recreation Area
Wednesday, April 29, 2020

This evening after work Diane and I went on a short hike into the narrows of Ribbon Canyon in the Bangs Canyon Recreation Area. Even though I had just hiked into this canyon about two weeks ago, Diane was not with me that day and I wanted to bring her back to visit this nice little canyon that’s close to home. The temperature out was in the mid-80’s this afternoon and the sky was clear, so the sun was blazing! It was a pretty warm hike along the trail until we reached ...

The High Trail of Flume Creek Canyon

Canyons of the Black Ridge Wilderness
Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The ledge varies in width, 10 to 20 feet at the wider places, less than 30 inches at the narrowest. Yet this precarious shelf is a well-traveled road… Over the High Trail, great bands of sheep, herds of white-faced cattle, packers and camp movers, with their strings of loaded pack horses, pass on their migrations between the Black Ridge country and the lowlands along the Colorado River.

-Will C. Minor

This evening after work I headed back into the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness in search of a historic route ...

Canyons of the Black Ridge: The Pollock Windows

Between the Forks of Pollock Canyon
Thursday, April 23, 2020

If the current COVID-19 pandemic had not completely changed everyone’s lives these past few weeks, then Diane and I would have left right after work today for another three day backpacking trip into The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. But since that is obviously not happening anymore, I decided instead to head out after work on another local adventure so that I could finally visit The Windows of Pollock Canyon in the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness. This is another one of those hikes that has been on my to-do ...

The Kokopelli Trail to Salt Creek

McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area
Tuesday, April 21, 2020

This evening Diane and I headed over to the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area near Rabbit Valley so we could spend the evening hiking a short section of the Kokopelli Trail. Although I have driven, hiked and even biked much of the Kokopelli Trail over the years, there are still a few sections of singletrack that I have missed. Today I thought it would be fun to hike one of those sections which descends down to Salt Creek from near the end of the Sidewinder Road on the west side. The ...

Kodels Point

McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area
Friday, April 17, 2020

This evening after work I drove up to the Visitor Center in the Colorado National Monument so I could try to hike to the top of a distinctive high point located above Kodels Canyon. I’ve looked upon this prominent sandstone outcrop many times as I have driven west on I-70 through Fruita and always wondered if it would be possible for me to climb to the top of it. This point sits on a narrow strip of land within the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area that is sandwiched between the Colorado ...

Ribbon Canyon

Bangs Canyon Recreation Area
Wednesday, April 15, 2020

This evening after work I headed out to explore a local canyon that’s found near The Ribbon Trail in the Bangs Canyon Recreation Area, just outside of the Colorado National Monument. Earlier this year I had come across a recent canyoneering trip report for this canyon, which they called Ribbon Canyon, and I thought it looked like it would be a nice place to visit after work one day. Well, now that I have to stay closer to home, I figured that this would be the perfect opportunity to check out this ...

Colorado National Monument: Bench Trail Arch

Thursday, April 9, 2020

This evening I went for a short hike into the Colorado National Monument so I could finally get a closer look at Bench Trail Arch. While I’ve hiked below this arch on the Bench Trail a number of times before, it’s always been in the middle of a longer hike through the Monument, so I’ve skipped climbing up to it to save my energy. After work I drove over to the Wildwood Trailhead and arrived just as the temperature out dropped by about ten degrees and it started to rain and get windy. I guess a ...

Maverick Canyon to Juanita Arch

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

This evening after work I headed out on a short hike to visit Juanita Arch in Maverick Canyon, which is located near Gateway, Colorado. This is a hike that has been on my to-do list for over ten years, and now that I’m stuck staying closer to home for the foreseeable future, I though it was finally time to cross it off the list! After arriving at the trailhead, I scoped out the crossing of the Dolores River to figure out how I wanted to tackle it. I had brought along my packraft in case I ...

Turkey Flats

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

After work on Tuesday, Diane and I loaded up our bikes and headed up to Piñon Mesa above Glade Park so we could go for a ride on the Turkey Flats Trail and beat the heat in the valley. It was 105 degrees down in the Grand Valley when we left home, but when we reached the Fruita Picnic Area to unload our bikes it was a more comfortable 83 degrees out. This evening we were going to combine the Turkey Flats Trail with 16 1/2 Road and the road that goes to Fruita Reservoir #1 ...

Colorado National Monument Fall Colors

Fall Colors 2017 | No Thoroughfare Canyon
Monday, October 16, 2017

No, the big canyon located at the east end of the Colorado National Monument hasn’t had a name change, it’s still named No Thoroughfare Canyon. But since I went on a short hike into the canyon this evening to check on the fall colors of the cottonwoods, I thought it was a fun take on the name. I try to head up into the Colorado National Monument each October to catch the cottonwoods changing colors, and as you can see from the photos below they were coming along nicely!

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Fall On The Grand Mesa 2017

Fall Colors 2017 | Monday, September 25, 2017

This evening I headed up onto the Grand Mesa after work for a couple of hours so I could try to catch a few fall colors this season with my camera. Unfortunately, the colors didn’t seem to be as good as they usually are with plenty of stripped trees and unhealthy looking leaves, but I managed to find a couple nice areas and used my long lens to help isolate the best colors. There was even a little snow still sticking around on the top of the mesa from the winter storm ...

Colorado National Monument Photos

Thursday, September 22, 2016

After work I grabbed my hiking gear and started heading out to Rabbit Valley so I could hike to another summit in Mesa County, but as I was driving west on I-70 I noticed the sky was much cloudier and darker out that direction and I was concerned about the weather I would encounter. It appeared that the edge of the storm system moving through the area was over Fruita and Grand Junction and it looked like I’d have better luck closer to town this evening. So when I reached the Fruita exit I decided to ...

Grand Mesa Fall Colors

Fall Colors | Wednesday, September 21, 2016

I made a last minute decision after work today and went for a drive up onto the Grand Mesa to check on the fall colors this evening. It turned out to be a good call since the colors were looking pretty good. I slowly made my way up the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway to Skyway Point and then explored the old Grand Mesa Road and a few other backroads in the area while I was up there until after sunset. There’s not really much else to say about this short evening excursion, so ...

Rabbit Valley Exploring

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I drove out to Rabbit Valley near the Utah state line after work this evening to spend a few hours exploring some of the area. I ended up driving a few backroads in the area I had not been on before and visiting a couple of overlooks and then I hiked down into Ruby Canyon from the rim on an old cattle trail. I also visited a few small petroglyphs and pictographs that were found in a shallow alcove that contained some lithic scatter nearby. It was a nice way to spend the evening and I ...

Return to the Monument

Monday, May 9, 2016

It’s been a while since the last time I took a drive through the Colorado National Monument and it’s also been a while since I’ve gone out specifically to take photos around sunrise or sunset. After all the rain we’ve been having in the Grand Valley lately, it looked like the storms were finally clearing out this evening so I decided to take a drive on Rim Rock Drive in the west section of the park this evening and stopped at a few of the viewpoints along the way to take a couple of photos.

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Devil's Kitchen

Thursday, November 5, 2015

It’s been pretty rainy and wet here in the Grand Valley for the past day or two, but this afternoon the storms finally started to clear out of the area and I decided to drive up to the Colorado National Monument after work to take a few photos. I ended up just going to the Devil’s Kitchen in No Thoroughfare Canyon and hanging around there until shortly after sunset. Here are a few photos from the evening.

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Friday Sunset

Colorado National Monument | Friday, October 23, 2015

After a few days of rainy weather in the Grand Valley the storms finally started to clear out of the area today, so I decided to drive up into the Colorado National Monument after work to take some photos around sunset. It’s always a great way to spend a couple of hours.

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Divide Road

Fall Colors 2015
Thursday, October 15, 2015

I decided to head up onto the Uncompahgre Plateau after work this evening to see if there were any fall colors left. I ended up taking Divide Road all the way to Uncompahgre Butte (9,679), which I quickly summited while I was there, before turning around and driving back home for the night. While most of the aspen trees had dropped their leaves, there were still a few small groves left that were holding on to their color for a little bit longer. It was a nice way to spend a few hours ...

Monument Rain

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

On a whim, I decided to drive through the Colorado National Monument this evening to try and catch a nice sunset. The last few days we’ve had quite a few thunderstorms move through the Grand Valley and I was hoping that tonight’s storms might create some nice conditions.

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An Evening in the Monument

Monday, March 23, 2015

After work on Monday I headed up to the west side of the Colorado National Monument so I could scout a few sections of trail for a longer hike I have planned for this weekend. After hiking parts of the Fruita Dugway and Black Ridge Trail I stopped at Grand View to catch a spectacular sunset. Here are a few photos from my short evening outing.

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Fall in the Colorado National Monument

Fall Colors 2014
Wednesday, October 15 & 22, 2014

I spent the last two consecutive Wednesdays visiting the Colorado National Monument after work so that I could try to photograph fall colors before it was too late. I’ve had a couple of shots on my mind that I had envisioned and was hoping the conditions would allow me to make them happen this year. On my first visit to the park last Wednesday the color I was after wasn’t quite there yet so those shots had to wait, but I did take a few photos as I drove through the ...

Piñon Mesa Fall Colors

Fall Colors 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014

After work, Diane and I headed up to Piñon Mesa near Glade Park to see how the fall colors were coming along up there. I had actually only been up to this area once before, many years ago, so I wasn’t too familiar with the area. I have heard that it might be a good spot for fall colors close to home and have wanted to get up there in the fall for many years, so it was time to finally do it. While there was still quite a bit of green around, ...

Grand Mesa Fall Colors

Autumnal Equinox | Fall Colors 2014
Monday, September 22, 2014

After getting home from the San Juan Mountains on Sunday, I turned my attention to photographing local fall colors this week. I did a little research online and found that the colors up on the Grand Mesa were looking pretty good right now, so I decided to head up there after work. I spent much of the evening photographing the colors between Spruce Point, Mesa Lakes and Skyway Point since they were looking pretty good in this area. The clearing clouds from the weekend storms created dynamic lighting conditions and ...

Kodels Canyon

Monday, April 21, 2014

After hiking up the Fruita Dugway just over a week ago and being treated to some nice views down into Kodels Canyon for part of the way, I decided that I wanted to check out that canyon soon. I wasn’t expecting much on this short hike after work, but there were a lot of great sights in this short canyon at the very western edge of the Colorado National Monument. My understanding is that this canyon is named after an old prospector who had a cabin near the mouth of the canyon. He apparently dug the ...

Gold Star Canyon Loop

Thursday, March 27, 2014

After work this evening, Diane and I met up for another short hike in the Colorado National Monument. We started from the White Rocks trailhead and then hiked the steep trail beside Gold Star Canyon up onto the Precambrian Bench. We followed the trail towards Monument Canyon and then turned around when we reached Mushroom Rock. Next we followed a wash down into Monument Canyon and hiked back to White Rocks by circling around the Little Island. It was a nice evening hike. I don’t usually carry my camera on these short after-work hikes but the ...

Canyon Rim Trail

Monday, March 10, 2014

This evening Diane and I went on a short last-minute hike after work in the Colorado National Monument since the weather was so nice out. We ended up along the Canyon Rim Trail and enjoyed the views across Wedding Canyon as the sun sunk low in the sky behind a thin layer of clouds. Here’s a few photos I took along the way…

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Fall and Winter on the Grand Mesa

Fall Colors 2012
Wednesday, September 26, 2012

After work I decided to drive up on top of the Grand Mesa for a few hours to try and photograph some of the fall colors before it was too late. I was hoping to come back with a couple of photos, but instead I came back with a whole trip report! The colors were outstanding and the active weather provided a lot of interesting views throughout the evening. I even got caught in a snowstorm while on the very top, reminding me of the approaching winter.

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