If you had a week in Utah...

b.stark

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So I've been planning to make a quick run out to Utah in late april/early may. originally the plan was to have 3, maybe 4 days there, and my intent was to focus on the Needles district and do some dayhikes.

However, I've been working lots of overtime lately and probably looking at too many trip reports. so I've tentatively decided to use a little more vacation and do a more thorough tour of the desert. I'll have at least a full week in Utah. I can be gone a total of 12 days, including driving there and back.

My question is, if you were a guy who likes dayhikes and maybe an overnight (solo, anyway) backpacking trip or two, what would be some of your top choices in Utah? In my own head I kind of figure on hitting the southeast part hard, but I'm open to other suggestions.

Dates would be April 24 to May 5. also if anybody wanted to meet up for a hike in that time frame, I'm game for such a thing. you can ask curt or frahminator if I'm any good for company!
 

SteveR

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Seeing as you mentioned Needles, I might suggest splitting your time between there and Cedar Mesa, as each offer many very good dayhikes, and backpack opportunities as well. In transit between the two, Monticello makes for a good re-supply point as it has a much better grocery store than Blanding. You don't mention what type of vehicle you may be driving- both areas have plenty of hiking and car camping that doesn't necessarily require HC 4WD. Assuming that you would be traveling via I-70, Fisher Towers east of Moab would make for a nice 1/2 day stop along the way from, or returning home.
Another idea might be dividing your time between Capitol Reef and the Escalante area. Again- lot's of great easy access things to do in both locales, without wasting time by moving around a lot.
A caveat would be that all of my roughly 100 days in the desert have been in the fall- I can't speak to the typical weather or how busy these spots might be during your timeframe.
 

b.stark

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Will be driving a Tacoma and coming into the state via I-70.

Cedar mesa has my attention due to all the archaeological sites.

I really want to explore the escalate country someday too, though.
 
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Nurrgle

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If It was me and I had a reasonably capable SUV or truck, I'd turn off I-70 at Green River and take the Lower San Rafael Road (UT1010?) South to Hans Flat. Stopping of course at the Horseshoe bend and taking a trip over to Barrier Canyon to see that panel. Continue on to Hite UT, camping somewhere along the road after the park.

From Hite, I would head Southeast to cedar Mesa and camp, probably day hike into Jailhouse Ruin and Perfect Kiva, spend the rest of my free days around there or head back through Moab and spend a night there so I could see those parks.
 

SteveR

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Will be driving a Tacoma and coming into the state via I-70.

Cedar mesa has my attention due to all the archaeological sites.

I really want to explore the escalate country someday too, though.


Both Cedar Mesa and the Escalante area have more than enough individually to fill a week, especially as you have a truck.
Less driving by sticking to one zone also- a lot of time can be frittered away by trying to cover too much territory.
I would include the 3 bridges loop at Natural Bridges as part of a Cedar Mesa trip, plus a day at Comb Ridge if you have the time.
 

gnwatts

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The only area I have a lot of experience at is Cedar Mesa. I would establish a base camp on Slickhorn Road, many beautiful sites past the turn off to Government trail. Incredible views of Bears Ears and the surrounding area. From there, you have Government trail, Collins Canyon, Slickhorn, Point Lookout, Road Canyon, Owl and Fish Canyons, lower Johns Canyon via Johns Canyon Road (I have limited input with upper John's Canyon), Grand Gulch via a number of side canyons, Mule Canyons, Arch, Texas canyons, Butler Wash, I'll stop now. Many places from 10 minutes to and hour away.
 

MN dad

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If you interested in Cedar Mesa, I would endorse backpacking Grand Gulch. My family did Bullet Canyon to Kane Ranger Station as a three-day backpack last Spring. It was about 8 miles a day but allowed plenty of time to explore the many ruins and rock art. You would need a shuttle which we arranged for in Blanding. We camped the first night at confluence of Bullet and Grand Gulch and the second night at the confluence of Todie and Grand Gulch. Awesome trip. You will need to secure a reservation which is dependent on trail head I believe. We did this at the end of March so water was good but check with Rangers.

Another interesting Cedar Mesa site is the Moonhouse ruins which is about an hour drive on a dirt road each way and a short hike but has awesome ruins. This also requires reservations.

As SteveR said, more than in enough to fill a week or even two just in Cedar Mesa.

Needles is another great option for the base camping / day hiking scenario. The Needles has both the outstanding NP campground and the Needles Outpost right outside the entrance and quite a few wonderful loop hikes. The Outpost in under new management. I think both campgrounds take reservations.

Have a great trip!
 

Parma

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City Creek Center in Salt Lake City has a creek thru it...does that count?
You could get some joggers at H&M while you are on this strenuous dayhike! :twothumbs:
 

BryanG

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I would also recommend Cedar Mesa. In my opinion you can see a lot more canyons day hiking but I love spending nights in those canyons. Easy to get into Grand Gulch via Gov. TH, Kane Gulch, Sheiks canyon for day hikes. But really you cant go wrong with any of the canyons out there. Just an amazing area. If you do go to Cedar Mesa you can additionally check out Comb Ridge which has a ton of pretty accessible ruins and pictographs (as well as many, many cows).
If you end up backpacking keep in mind that it has been a very dry winter out there. We did a 3 day trip into Grand Gulch from Gov. TH last week and found very little water. Only potholes at GG/Polly's junction and better water about half-way up Polly's canyon. No water up to Cow Tank Springs Canyon. Conditions might change but this is as of 3/17.
 

b.stark

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City Creek Center in Salt Lake City has a creek thru it...does that count?
You could get some joggers at H&M while you are on this strenuous dayhike! :twothumbs:

I don't know man, I'm so much more comfortable with backcountry environments. And joggers... man, I've had way more scares with them than with bears! Wow the looks I got from many of them while blowing by on my bike on the city trails while I lived in Lincoln... you'd think I had actually run them over. Looks that could stop a charging grizzly! I think I'll take my chances out where it's just rocks, trees, dirt, large predators... you know, safe stuff.

b.stark- it looks like the collective BCP mind has decided that you are going to Cedar Mesa:D

It sure seems to have come out ahead. It may become the main focus of this trip. Still wanting to spend a day or two in the Needles though, I really liked it after being there for a day last year.

A part of the idea of doing dayhikes is definitely because of the shortage of precipitation in the SW over the past months. Much easier to pack several gallons in the pickup than packing several gallons down a canyon on my back for days on end. That said, I probably will work in an overnighter somewhere.

Are there any good maps of Cedar Mesa, or will I be best off with good old USGS topos?
 

Joey

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I'll be out there that time frame, either in the lower Escalante, upper Paria, or Dark Canyon. Cedar Mesa is great, but better in the fall in my opinion, when there are less people. Also, I know you've been looking at the Brooks Range. If your interested in planning something for 2019 for there, let me know.
 

BryanG

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@b.stark there is a Nat Geo map, but its crap. The scale is way too big (or technically small because its a ratio? idk.) for it to be useful in the canyons. I like the Utah road atlas for driving around the mesa top but map out canyon routes using Caltopo which seems to work well. I also experimented with Gaia GPS to see how well it worked it in the canyons this trip and it actually surprised me in how well it worked. Nice to have digital and hard copies in hand but I wouldn't count on the digital map being accurate everywhere, of course.
 

b.stark

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I'll be out there that time frame, either in the lower Escalante, upper Paria, or Dark Canyon. Cedar Mesa is great, but better in the fall in my opinion, when there are less people. Also, I know you've been looking at the Brooks Range. If your interested in planning something for 2019 for there, let me know.

Count me in for the Brooks range! I'll start getting in shape for it now!

I'd love to take your advice to goto Cedar Mesa in the fall, but I'm really jonesing for some adventure now. I get basically two full weeks of vacation now, will be getting a third next year. Planning to go to Wyoming in July which will burn up my second week this year. I'm also not tied down to cedar mesa, part of the benefit of travelling solo is that I can go wherever whenever. Escalate and basically anywhere in southern Utah can't be completely ruled out at this point.

If I decide to explore more places, I may skip spending time in the Needles. A big part of this thread is just to collect ideas and help me to do some wide area familiarization and research. I have done quite a bit on my own, but the experience folks here have can help me focus that research a bit better. Also there's a lot of very good knowledge of roads here, which seems crucial in really exploring utah.
 

b.stark

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Man, after reading up on the escalante park thread in the general forum, maybe I should hit that before it becomes another auto tour park...
 

b.stark

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So if I wanted to go to the escalante area, what might be some good day hikes or 1-2 night backpack hikes? or at least areas, if you don't want to give your favorite spots or trails specifically.
 

IntrepidXJ

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So if I wanted to go to the escalante area, what might be some good day hikes or 1-2 night backpack hikes? or at least areas, if you don't want to give your favorite spots or trails specifically.

Coyote Gulch is always nice.
 
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