Broads Fork Twin Peaks in Big Cottonwood Canyon via Robinson's Variation is not for the weak nor beginner hiker. It's a tough, long day. If you've done any research on this peak, you've seen several routes that will lead you to the top. My friend who lead us on this hike, had done it other the ways, but wanted to try this route out. I was up for anything! He had heard it was do-able, but steep. Robinson's Variation was also appealing to us because it could be done as a loop hike - up Robinson's, summit, then down the traditional Broad's Fork route.
Lisa Falls is another super easy waterfall to reach, and is great for kids. This seemed to be the "week of waterfalls" for me. I also visited the Left Fork of Mill Creek and Faux Falls in Moab which are also both great for dogs and kids. Every time I drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon, I say "there's a waterfall over there - we should check it out!" But I never did...
Faux Falls in Moab is a very short walk, that the whole family will enjoy. "Faux" is French for "false" or "fake", hence the name. Faux Falls was built in 1981 along with Ken's Lake, when a drought in the early 1970s pressed for the need of more water for Moab and surrounding areas. Ken's Lake is named for the then District Chairman, Ken McDonald, and the lake was dedicated for irrigation purposes in the upper Spanish Valley - long known as "Poverty Flats" because of its lack of water. It cost $4 million dollars to build the 96 ft high dam to hold an estimated 2,750 acres of water that allows for the cultivation of roughly 900 acres of land.
Hiking the North Fork of Mill Creek in Moab has been on my hiking "to do" list every time I'm in town, but it always got put on the back burner for other trails. This time, since we had 5 dogs with us, we made it happen! Us and the dogs had done a dry hike the day before at The Fisher Towers, and really needed to cool off. We all had big dogs, and they tend to overheat quickly. Hiking along a stream seemed like the perfect way to cool off. However, I wasn't looking forward to Charlie riding home 4 hours in the car home soaking wet and sandy. Sometimes you just need to let the dogs have fun and not care about keeping things clean.
The famous "House on Fire" ruins lie Mule Canyon, in between Natural Bridges National Monument and Blanding, Utah. Southeast Utah is home to the most numerous and varied collection of ruins, spread over a remote area of about 30 X 25 miles. Besides hundreds of ruins, mostly cliff dwellings, the Cedar Mesa area contains many petroglyphs and pictographs, all between 800 - 2000 years old from the Anasazi and Pueblo Indians. Most are found in canyons, where water was easily accessible and conditions were cooler in summer months. All land is public, managed by the BLM, and as of December 28, 2016 is now protected under the Bears Ears National Monument.
On day two of our trip to Southeastern Utah, we drove from our camp at Goosenecks State Park 45 minutes North to Natural Bridges National Monument. After visiting Monument Valley, it was time for a change of scenery and we wanted to get some miles in hiking through water, canyons, and under bridges, and to visit Utah's first national monument. Natural Bridges covers a small area of SE Utah, and is therefore very remote and not close to any of "Utah's Mighty Five" National parks. Despite being near many other amazing places in this part of the state such as White Canyon, Mule Canyon, Cedar Mesa, Grand Gulch, and the LaSal Mountains. Unlike Arches National Park which has over 2,000 arches, there are only three bridges at Natural Bridges. This park also contains cliff dwellings, pictographs, petroglyphs, and white canyon sandstone.
Our first full day in Southeastern Utah, we drove to Arizona to visit Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. From our base camp at Goosenecks State Park, it was only a 45 minute drive. When we were planning our trip here, we initially thought we would take a guided tour. Monument Valley & Tribal rules state that you are not allowed to get out of your car on the scenic drive to hike around the famous Mittens or other rock structures, unless you are with a Navajo Guide and/or have a permit. The tours were a little expensive for our budget ($75/person for 2 hours), so we researched other options in the park and found that there is ONE trail open to the public - The Wildcat Trail.
After our visit to Mystic Hot Springs, we drove west down I-70 for another 20 minutes until we reached Fremont Indian State Park. Thousands of years ago this area was home to the largest population of Fremont Indians. Many petroglyphs (engraved rock with symbols) still exists, and the park offers a small trail system to view them. Inside the museum are artifacts, a film, petroglyph tours, hands-on activities for kids, and exhibits that reveal the lives of the Fremont. The park also offers RV and tent camping, you can rent out a Tipi, and there's also access the famous Paiute ATV Trail.
The Wind Caves Trail is located in Logan Canyon about 1.5 hours northeast of SLC. We were looking for something new & different to hike, and I had heard of these caves before from friends. Our plan was to make a day trip of it, and hike this trail and one across the road called The Crimson Trail, which gets you above the China Wall. I also wanted to stop at one of my favorite outdoor sports store, Camp Saver. CampSaver.com is an online gear store, however their physical store is located just before you reach Logan in Nibley, UT. Anything you buy in store gives you an extra 20% discount on everything. Plus, they are super knowledge able and can help you find the perfect gear for any adventure.
Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada has been on my "hiking to do list" for almost two years, but I had never made it one of my travel priorities. Every year something else that seemed "better" came up, and I passed on the opportunity to visit here. This weekend I made it there, and realized how much I had been missing out on! The amazing vistas of colored rock, petroglyphs, arches, slot canyons, beautiful desert scenery, blue bird skies, and an awesome campground had me smiling all weekend. My friends and I picked the perfect weekend to go. It wasn't a holiday weekend so there were less people, plus the temperatures in February are perfect, with an average temperature of 62F. This past weekend it got up to 80F, which is the hottest I've felt since last summer! Temperatures in summer can reach 120F, so it's best to visit the park from December-March.