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 2016 is protected under the Bears Ears National Monument.
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, 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.
Valley of Fire State Park is the oldest Nevada State Park, which was dedicated in 1935. It covers approximately 35,000 acres, and was named appropriately for the magnificent red sandstone formations that resemble a realm of flames. These formations resulted from the shifting sand dunes more than 150 million years ago in the Mesozoic Era. Surrounding rock includes limestone, shale, and conglomerates.
Slickrock Trail, the world famous mountain biking trail, is located in Moab, Utah. Most people bike this 10.5 mile loop, but we hiked it! Slickrock Trail is located at the Sand Flats Recreation Area, about 10 minutes outside of Moab, where we also camped for two nights. This trail is popular for its scenic, rugged expanse of Navajo Sandstone, the remnant of wind blown sand dunes. Slickrock Trail was established in 1969 for motorcycles, but the trail is now popular for both mountain bikes and motorcycles - it is closed to all four-wheeled vehicles.
Hidden Falls is a quick walk off the side of the road up Big Cottonwood Canyon - with only a .07 mile walk up the road, there's no good reason to pass it up! This is perfect in Spring when the waterfall is running full. On the 5 minute walk you will also pass by an old, closed off mine. This walk is perfect for those with little kids or family visiting that aren't big hikers but still want to see pretty scenery.
The Parrish Canyon Trail starts along the Wasatch Mountains in Centerville, Utah. Despite its name, the hike actually takes you up the face of the mountain, over a course of several switchbacks, gaining elevation steeply until you have beautiful views of Davis County. This is a nice hike to do in Winter to get out of the inversion and to get the dogs out. If you hike up the actual creek, about 1/2 mile up you will see the Parrish Creek Pictographs. In Winter they are not usually visible due to snow.
I debated on creating a post for our attempt to Pilot Peak (10,720 ft), mainly because we didn't actually summit. I realized that not every summit will be successful or the most enjoyable, but at least I can share my experience with everyone, and I hope that this can help somewhat guide you and not make the same mistakes we did.