South of Utah, I refer to the area south of I-70 and east of I-15. Being a desert rat, I admitted to an injury. Still, I like the cakes. However, the area is notable, by any measurement stick, for geological wonders and archaeological experiences. When I think about my favorite trips, everyone happens to fall in that area that I like. It was not surprising, even though I lived north, south, east, west in this beautiful country of ours. I will be concentrating on three of my favorite excursions in the following categories; ancient village (or mistaken Anasazi) ruins and art, an inland path, a geological slot canyon. I extended the trips by two days each, not because one day isn’t good, but not enough.
Although these spaces I cover are not as famous as Bryce or Zion, they are just as great.
Also, come to think of it, my favorite mountain (it’s a hike, not a technique) might be in the same area, and not in Colorado! Mt.Peale is only about 13,000 feet (elevation above sea level), if you also call it a mountain. It’s in the beautiful La Sal range near the famous Moab, UT. I won’t give you much guidance here, so if you can’t find your way down an obvious mountain road, you’re not here.
Boulder Mail Trail it’s my favorite track in open ground. It is the true (mule) mail trail that was used between the cities of Boulder and Escalante in the early 1900s. It is now housed in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. I like to walk half way (up to Death Hollow or not) out and back from Boulder area and then the other half back and forth from Upper Escalante Canyon Trailhead. Or, of course, there is the reward option for camping. The complete route is 16 kilometers in one way only. That could be done on a busy day trip, of course. But I wouldn’t have time for the side trip to the natural bridge at Mamie Creek. (The bridge is a mile long on each side.) The trail is well cairned (it also follows an old telephone line for the most part) and scenic throughout. As you take a look at the topography, imagine what goes through the mail carriers. Sand Creek, Death Hollow, and Mamie Creek are possible water sources along the way. Do a proper search. Contempt is a desire to die here. 1 GALLON OF WATER PER PERSON PER DAY IS NECESSARY. Get started soon! This track is a full two-day charge. It is not a cycle but a punctual path.
Utahcanyons is a good web reference. If a book is preferred, Steve Allen does a pretty good job with “Canyoneering 3.”
Access to the BMT is from Rt. 12 on both ends. The western end is the Upper Escalante Canyon Trailhead near the town of Escalante. The east end is close to Boulder area.
Value this growth explicitly for duration, exposure.
Gulch Buckskin, tributary of the usually dry Paria River, is the best canyon slot trail in the world (fare area). A canyon slot is formed by impeccable erosion from the water, usually in floodplains. This is 13 miles long, 2 feet wide in the posts, and up to 500 feet deep. I walked about ten miles at a time and once (20 mi. Total), entering Wire Pass Trail Head, which offered the quickest access to the straits. The walls of the gulch are so vertical and high that the spectacle used by Antelope Canyon (near Page, Az.) Is not available here. But as the light shines through Buckskin Gulch, there is a quiet feeling of his cathedral in the distance. Buckskin also has ancient rock art, at the intersection of Wire Pass Trail and Buckskin Trail, where he turned right at the narrow end. This is an extremely dangerous place if a flash flood occurs. My group was trapped in a flash flood once, thanks to the Paria River canyon and not the Buckskin canyon. She was still scared. A number of Australian travelers who crashed into Buckskin carried water up to their noses. The moment you search, look for the embedded logs above your head. Duh, this is the water level, flat level. You’ll be wet on this walk more often (tired), but check the weather conditions with the Paria Ranger Station. You want to get it right off your neck. There is a mandatory daily use fee to the track. Just pay for it, you’re not in the middle of anything if your vehicle is towed.
Americansouthwest has some better information. You should get the BLM “Paria Canyon Hiking Guide”. My advice is to go up to the wall and get back to the vehicle, for a long day trip. Or take an “easy” two-day trip to the confluence of the Paria (13 1/2 miles each time) and back, with gear. For you multi-day backpackers, there are at least 60 miles of hiking available on the Paria River and Buckskin. Although Buckskin is the biggest, we prefer the idea of day 1 then and day 2 in Coyote Buttes (fare zone). This gives you nice and clear in the streets to be pleasant and warm and exposed near the “buttes”. A lot of water will be needed to drink in Coyote Buttes, which is divided into northern and southern units. The most renowned north section is accessible from the head of the Wire Pass road. “The Wave” is the attraction (even dinosaur footprints recently discovered!) And can be viewed in americansouthwest.
Access is from House Rock Valley Rd. for Buckskin and Coyote. The nearest paved road is Rt. 89 about 40 miles east of Kanab. In H.R.V. Rd. passed to Rt. 89A and the Vermilion Rocks, near Marble Canyon in Arizona. A good hike here too, and the petroglyphs to the hustle and bustle (Eastern Crack, good luck finding them).
Buckskin Gulch rates difficult to length, possible wading deep water, rock fall. Coyote Buttes are rated easy, with no dehydration problems. If Buckskin doesn’t look skinny enough, try Spooky Gulch, which is accessible to the east of the Escalante city.
My favorite archeological excursions are in Grand Gulch Primitive Area (fare zone). My only complaint is that it is becoming popular. The Great Basin Desert in southeastern Utah (especially the Colorado River and San Juan river drains) has an incredible amount of ancient cultural remains from Pueblo. I spent 15 years looking around. I know they are the very adjacent petroglyphs of the St. John River. I know the Moon of the Moon, The Citadel, The Procession Panel. Unfortunately, however, some places cannot be visited in tourist areas. Some places can’t take the stress. At least Grand Gulch has a modicum of supervisors, and visitors so far have tried to behave. The nearest villages are Blanding (the largest at 2000 or more population), Bluff, and Mexican Hat. Don’t miss this open-air museum.
The “main road” into Grand Gulch is the Kane Gulch Trail, which is just across the paved Rt. 261 from the Visitor Center. The first famous show is “Junction Ruin,” at the intersection of Kane and Grand Gulches. It is four miles from the trailhead. There is a long way to go, but the walk in it is a beautiful walk by nature, and easy. In addition to a beautiful ruin, there are antique hand-painted paintings. Another half mile on the left carries a “Turkey Pen Ruin,” with more pictograms and petroglyphs. The Stimper arc, a pretty good one, is five miles from the head of the track. So a turnaround makes a ten-mile day hike on fairly flat terrain. It’s a nice gun, easy.
Day 2, in Bullet Canyon, is a different story, and a harder hike. There’s a lot more vertical elevation change involved here, and they go a little rough with boulder salting. I saw a Midget Faded house on this street once. It’s a small (this was about a foot long) but powerful snake. Let me have the right way. There are “tower ruins” at the beginning of the canyon, entrances. Bullet also has a number of grannies to see before the track reaches “Perfect Kiva Ruin” at 4 1/2 miles. “Jailhouse Ruin” has a strange and well-defined aura on purpose (1/2 mile past “Perfect Kiva”), with a ghost-like pictogram stretching over it. So also a 10 mile day excursion is involved.
Do you have a day 3 to save? In one case, Todie Canyon gave way to “Split Level Ruin” five miles from the head of Todie Road. There is a small ruin and pictured at 2 1/2 miles in, only 1/5 mile after the canyon. (The canyon starts 2.3 miles from the head of the road.) There are also granaries, on the way to “Ruin Split Level.”
For multi-day backpackers, there are about 75 miles of hiking available in the Primitive Grand Gulch area.
There is a problem if you are a day hiker. You will see Sheiks Canyon, which involves a long day verrry. It is full of great works of art and housing, especially the “Spring Mask Green” territory. Sheiks is located 14 miles from the head of Kane Gulch Road, 8.6 miles from the head of Bullet Canyon, and 9.3 miles from the head of Todie Canyon. There is supposed to be a Sheiks Canyon Trailhead to Bullet Canyon Trailhead loop. This is going to be a 17 mile cycle, but I’ve never found the Sheiks track. There’s a fantastic petroglyph at “Wall Ruin,” on the Grand Gulch near the meeting point with Sheiks Canyon. There appear to be two smaller figures balancing on a larger figure, like circus performers.
Bullet Canyon Trailhead: Just south of sign 22 (Rt. 261) turn west 1 mile.
Todie Canyon Trailhead: Just north of mark 25 (Rt. 261) turn west 1 mile on CR 2361.
I like to use Trails Illustrated map # 706 for Grand Gulch (waterproof / teardrop).
Rate these increases moderate (Kane) to difficult (Bullet) for duration, exposure.