My weekend adventure took me to the heart of the San Rafael Swell to a unique rock formation called the Cosmic Ashtray. This is one of the most mystifying geological formations in Utah.
After walking for a few miles, then hiking cross country on slick rock in the middle of the desert, and lots of route finding, we finally arrived. Below us was a huge almost perfectly circular bowl carved out of the slick rock – the drop off was probably 100 ft or so. It’s hard to tell how deep it really is because the bowl is filled with fine orange sand. In the middle of the bowl is a knob of stone sticking up, roughly 50-75 ft. It resembles a crater or possibly the core of an ancient volcano. There is not a lot of information on it, nor an explanation of how it was formed.
This is one of those special Utah spots that I don’t want to become over populated or exploited on social media, and therefore will not post specific route directions or a map. Distance is roughly 10 miles round trip. This area is completely exposed to the sun and wind, and should never be accessed during rain storms. Be prepared with at least 3 liters of water, plenty of food, a hat, and sunblock.
Here are some of my favorite photos from our adventure.
Lots of sandstone
The dogs found some nasty water to swim in. They never pass up an opportunity to swim.
Charlie strikes a pose.
A view of the area we hiked across.
These photos below are actually from a different area we hiked, not near the Cosmic Ashtray. I didn’t want to make a whole post for it, since we didn’t get to our destination. I still liked some of the photos though.
The dogs had a blast running in the sand in the wash. Not many people had been there, only cows.
A small cave to hide in.
Exploring the canyon. This pool of water was actually frozen from the cold November temperatures.
We wanted to hike through this slot canyon, but deep, ice cold water prevented us from doing so. I thought that for sure the slot canyons would be dry in November, but you never know what you’ll see or come across in Southern Utah. The weather is very unpredictable.
Walking out of the canyon.
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