San Rafael Swell

After departing Moab we ventured into the northern portion of the San Rafael Swell. The Swell is a rugged and undeveloped wilderness managed by the BLM. As is the case with most BLM public lands, there is unrestricted access for camping, hiking, driving and other activities. We followed the Buckhorn Draw Road which is unpaved but was dry and in good condition during our trip. The Swell is canyon country with many of the canyon walls reaching up to 500 feet. A number of the canyon walls also have pictographs and petroglyphs which were created about 2000 years ago by Barrier Canyon Indians.

The Swell was at one time a source of uranium but those mines are largely played out. The only other use of the land in the Swell is for grazing cattle. There are also a fair number of wild horses and burros roaming through the Swell.

The Swell is a starkly beautiful, undeveloped area and we hope that the BLM continues to keep it that way.

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Moab, Utah

Traveled from Blanding to Moab as we make our way back to Salt Lake City. While in Moab we hiked the Hidden Valley Trail out to Hidden Pass on a perfect fall day. Stopping over in Moab also provided the opportunity to spend time at long time favorite Moab Coffee Roasters.

Moab was a down and out former mining town (uranium) of about 1500 people. More recently, like Sedona, it has experienced significant growth as a tourist destination for both American and international tourists. The growing popularity of mountain biking and off roading combined with two national parks has dramatically revitalized Moab’s economy and brought new people into the area.

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La Sal Mountains 
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Hidden Pass

Valley of the Gods

On our way north from Arizona to Utah we ventured into the Valley of the Gods. This valley was part of the Bears Ears NM until President Trump reduced the size of the NM. Fortunately, the valley is still protected for environmental concerns and remains under the management of the BLM.

While the valley is off the beaten path we found the trip to be more than worthwhile as the valley has a significant number of striking buttes, mesas, towers and mushroom rocks. There is a 17 mile road that winds through the valley and provides close up views for many of the formations. The road is unpaved but in good condition for the most part. 0085 7E15E819-ABD5-4C03-87E1-6F6D6664958F2752A2BF-BF51-45F8-9A4C-C7B428DD9440

Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch Slots

Today we hiked from the Wire Pass Trailhead through the Wire Pass Narrows to the intersection with The Buckskin Gulch and then east in the Gulch until the water made progress impossible without hiking through the pools. These slots are located in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area managed by the BLM. There are a number of petroglyphs where the Wire Pass meets Buckskin Gulch. The Buckskin Gulch is where the famous “Wave” slot is located but access is limited to 20 permits a day! The Wave became famous when Microsoft 7 added a photo as an option for their desktop wallpaper. I have included a photo of the Wave directly below. 

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Wire Pass Narrows 
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Buckskin Gulch
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Intersection of Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch 

Kodachrome Basin

We were hoping to head to Arizona via the Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Backway, unfortunately, heavy rains have made the road impassable. We have extended our stay in Kodachrome Basin for a couple of days. Kodachrome Basin is the first “step” of the Grand Staircase and has a bounty of impressive spires and great hikes. If Cottonwood remains impassable tomorrow we will travel east towards Lake Powell before turning south and working our way to Sedona, Arizona. 0076,0077

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Southern Utah Part 2

We have been taking full advantage of the great weather to boondock and hike in the Hurricane area and Zion NP. We also had an great afternoon on the dunes in Sand Hollow. We have arived in Kanab after about a four hour wait as a section of the Smithsonian Butte was impassable due to a strom that passed through early this morning. Fortunately the Sun appeared with a light breeze to help the road dry out enough for us to make it through the clay section. If the weather remains dry over the next several days we will be able to hike in several exciting slot canyons in the nearby Vermillion Cliffs area.

 

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Pizza Night
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Boondocking on Grafton Mesa
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Zion NP from Rockville Mesa 
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Boondocking on Rockville Mesa

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Sand Hollow

Southern Utah

We have journeyed to Southern Utah near the Arizona border and we are enjoying the beautiful weather. Enjoying Fika with our old friends at River Rock Roasting in La Verkin. Camping in the Dixie NF under breathtaking night sky. Phenomenal scenery, hiking and scrambling! Not sure what else to say…..life is good. 0065,0066,0067,0068,0069

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Red Cliff Recreation Area

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Red Reef, Leeds, Utah

Dixie NF, Silver Reef, Utah

Fish Lake NF, Kanosh, UT

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La Barba Coffee, Draper, Utah

Salt Lake City – Museums + Fika

Best of Salt Lake City and Ogden

Unlike rural Utah, SLC boasts a number of very fine coffee roasters and shops. On this visit we visited the following shops: Blue Copper Coffee Room, Publick Coffee Roasters, Wasatch Coffee Roasters, Millcreek Coffee Roasters. Publick is an old favorite but the remaining shops were first time visits for us. All of the shops provided first rate coffee and tea products in nice Fika settings.

We were able to meet and chat with Darren Blackford who co-owns Wasatch with his wife. They are coffee lovers who started roasting in their garage and about two years ago moved into their current location. He and his wife are currently building a production roastery nearby but will maintain the roastery at the cafe in order to provide local customers with freshly roasted small batch beans. A nice story and really good beans.

 

Hill Aerospace Museum, Hill Air Force Base

As one of us continues to be an aviation geek we spent an afternoon at the air museum at Hill AFB outside of Ogden, Utah. A terrific collection of over 70 aircraft from WW2 vintage right up to aircraft currently in service today.

 

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C124 Globemaster

Utah Museum of Fine Arts

The museum is affiliated with the University of Utah and the located on the campus in SLC.  Although the museum is relatively small it is comprehensive in scope and worth a visit. The two paintings below dated 2016 are by staff at UU.

The featured image above at the top of this post and the three directly below are part of a series of 14 surviving linoleum prints done by Elizabeth Catlett in 1946-1947 depiciting the oppression of African-American women. The works were produced in Mexico and were intended to support political agitation for civil rights. The artist orignally named the collection The Negro Woman but renamed the collection The Black Woman in 1989 to reflect more contemporary terminology. 

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Crucifixion with Saints, ca 1480 by Bartolomeo
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Sister Perkins, 2016 by John Erickson
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Tantalus, 2016 by Kim Martinez
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Private Car, 1937 by LeConte Steward 
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Bingham Mine, 1917 by Jonas Lie

Slot Canyons Inn

We stayed four nights at the Slot Canyons Inn while exploring the EGSNM. The inn is located on a 160 acre property about five miles west of the town of Escalante, and is perfectly situated to watch both sunrise and sunset. While in residence at the inn we had the opportunity to hike on the property (what else!). There are four hiking cats that live on the property and three of them accompanied us on our hike as we looped the property.  Joette-Marie Rex owns the inn and is an incredibly gracious host. Joette-Marie invited her friend Mary Kaye, a singer-songwriter in the western cowboy genre, to perform at the inn during our stay. She has a beautiful voice and provided a lot of history about the cowboy history of the local area.

We also had the opportunity to visit David Delthony’s studio while in Escalante. David is a custom furniture artist and built the two chairs in the Slot Canyons Inn (pictured below).

The Slot Canyons Inn was a great base for our stay in Escalante.