Three days in Utah/Arizona

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I had a few days to spend in Utah last year. My wife and I had visited the previous year and my goal this time around was to visit spots that we hadn't been able to make it to.

First stop was Kanab, trying for a North Coyote Buttes permit. As usual, I was unsuccessful, but I drove to the Wire Pass trailhead anyway. We hadn't gotten to hike through Buckskin Gulch, and I also wanted to try to get up on West Clark Bench to do some exploring.
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I made it through Wire Pass without any problems. I was planning to hike downstream in Buckskin Gulch, but found that there was quite a bit of water. I knew that this was a possibility, but had been hoping for a dry canyon, at least for a few miles. Turning around and going upstream also brought me to more pools. I pressed on through them, alternating between wet and dry areas. I figured that at least I could enjoy the canyon a bit and then try to climb out to West Clark Bench.
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I didn't have to go too far before the canyon walls weren't so high and eventually I found a way out of the canyon.
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I began to explore the sandstone wonderland that lay around me.
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I would have loved to have more time to explore the area, but I didn't have much daylight left, so I began working my way north on the bench and then dropped back down to Buckskin Gulch.
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The next day, I drove through the San Rafael Reef area. I stopped by to see the Molen Reef petroglyphs.
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Then I headed east on Interstate 70, stopping at the various overlooks along the way. I live near the eastern end of I-70, and while it's not an ugly road around me, the scenery cannot compare to the San Rafael Swell area. Just gorgeous. This is a photo of the San Rafael Reef.
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I had planned to hike in the Tidwell Draw area of the Swell, but found road conditions to be worse than I had hoped. I wasn't willing to take my rental 4WD over the roads that I came to, so I head south on UT-24 for Caineville.
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I stopped at the BLM station in Hanksville and asked about hiking up North Caineville Mesa. They told me where I needed to go to get through the North Caineville Reef and said that they had heard there was a way up the Mesa, although they had not done it themselves. I drove around North Caineville Mesa, past Factory Butte, looking for the pull-off area. The road was in great shape, although once I turned left to snake around the back of the Mesa, the road conditions deteriorated a bit. Still, I was able to get to the pull-off.
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I found a notch through the top of North Caineville Mesa, and then wandered around the top. NCM is huge. I hiked several miles from the notch to where I could view Factory Butte, and still didn't touch the southern half of the mesa. I wish that I'd had more time -- and that I'd gotten there earlier; there were deep shadows around the base of the mesa by this point in the day.
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I stayed on top of the mesa until after sunset, then headed back down. Thankfully I was able to finish my descent before it got completely dark. The next morning, I drove down Hole in the Rock Road a little ways to the Devil's Garden. My goal for the day was to hike to Zebra Canyon, which had been flooded when my wife and I visited before. I didn't want to start hiking that too early, and Devil's Garden was something that we hadn't seen.
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Next, I drove to the parking area for the trail to Zebra Canyon. Most of the trail was pretty straight-forward, but I was glad that I had my GPS for the end.
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I was glad that I didn't begin my hike any later; there were a number of groups close to Zebra when I left, and I wouldn't want to have to get around others while in that tight space. I wandered around the area above the slot canyon, looking for moki marbles, but the GPS coordinates that I had were not accurate. There was some nice scenery though.
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I didn't have a lot of time, but I wanted to see if I could make it to Toroweap Point on the way back to Las Vegas. I made it there about an hour before sunset.
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I did quite a bit of driving during this trip, but in this part of the country, it was quite enjoyable. I had wonderful weather, and the car didn't break down or get a flat tire. I'm not sure when I'll be out this way again, but hopefully next time I'll have more than three days.
 
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Titans

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Beautiful photos, great TR- thanks for sharing. That was a lot of windshield time in a few days and yet you still hiked a lot. We were just there and I now regret not going to Toroweap Point, your vertorama and panoramas are amazing. There is never enough time in that area and the short winter days make it harder!
 

Bob

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Nice post. Don't know how you missed the Moki marbles..... There are acres and acres of them.... They are more like hardball size.. .
 

b.stark

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That's an awesome road trip covering some very cool areas. Wouldn't mind trying to get on top of North Caineville Mesa myself if I ever make it back down to that area.
 
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Awesome pics! So when you headed back toward buckskin TH, how far down before the east walls gave them self up for exit towards west clark bench? Been thinking about visiting the area in late March but was planning the traditional route.
 
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Awesome pics! So when you headed back toward buckskin TH, how far down before the east walls gave them self up for exit towards west clark bench? Been thinking about visiting the area in late March but was planning the traditional route.
Thanks! I would guess that it was about 0.75 miles. It's probably faster to get to the area from the Buckskin Gulch trailhead, but you would miss the better slot canyon areas and Wire Pass. If your goal is to see the southern portion of West Clark Bench and not the Edmaier's Secret area, then maybe it's still faster going the way that I went.
 
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That's an awesome road trip covering some very cool areas. Wouldn't mind trying to get on top of North Caineville Mesa myself if I ever make it back down to that area.
I highly recommend it, especially if you hike up the northern side.
 
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Oh my gosh, your photos are unbelievable - spectacular!!! I have had the pleasure of backpacking through Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch (all the way to Lee's Ferry) and it never occurred to me that the landscape up above would be so dramatic and amazing. WOW! To get up top, did you have to use ropes and do technical climbing? WOW again - I cannot get over how fabulous your photos are. I live in Michigan and wish I lived closer!
 

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Miya

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Holy moly! Amazing views and photographs! Thank you for sharing!
 
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Any trouble coming out through Wire Pass? The last time I went through there (a few years ago.) I had a devil of a time getting up one of the boulder drop offs. Standing on a rock pile that was just a bit tooo short and having to pull off a tough move against the walls. Being alone worked against me on that up climb.
 
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Any trouble coming out through Wire Pass? The last time I went through there (a few years ago.) I had a devil of a time getting up one of the boulder drop offs. Standing on a rock pile that was just a bit tooo short and having to pull off a tough move against the walls. Being alone worked against me on that up climb.
There’s a walk around that drop.
 

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