Ring Arch and Tunnel Rock – Arches NP

Moab, UT

On Saturday morning we planned to go on a hike in Canyonlands NP with Steve and Mona Liza (Lowes RV Adventures).  But the day dawned cloudy and cold with rain possibilities in the forecast.  Since the hike we planned was lengthy and in an exposed area, we thought it best to cancel the hike.  Of course, as it turned out the day was mostly sunny with no rain in sight.

Even when the sun poked through we were wary of the weather, so we decided to take a shorter hike closer to home to find a little visited arch in nearby Arches NP.  We tried to find the Ring Arch last year but turned up the wrong canyon and failed to locate it.  This year we looked up the coordinates of the arch and located it on Google Maps.  While researching the location of the arch, we learned that not far from it there is a nice little tunnel through a sandstone wall.  So off we went to find both locations.

We entered the park and drove on Arches Scenic Drive to a parking area on the west side of the road, just north of the small bridge over Courthouse Wash.

Looking south – the white arrow is the bridge, the red is the trail

Not far from the road (the red arrow in the photo above) the trail goes by a large boulder.

On the other side of the boulder are some images scratched into the rock.  One blogger called this “Cowboy Art” for lack of a better name.

A date scratched above the images is Nov. 11,  1917, one year before the end of WWI.

Continuing past the Cowboy Art the trail goes through a riparian area along Courthouse Wash, which has a steady flow of water.

Where did the nimble hiker go?

We made our way along the trail as it crossed numerous dry washes and the round slickrock at the base of the tunnel came into view.

The tunnel is at the top of the slickrock on the right

Heading up to the mouth of the tunnel

It is a little tricky to get up into the tunnel, but John was able to get there with a little help from another hiker who was also trying to get up and in.  John then helped the other hiker up the rock.

Looking back at the entrance from inside

Looking out the other side

Looking back at the canyon from the tunnel

A good way to go down steep slickrock

Next, we hiked about a mile to the south to visit the Ring Arch.  We couldn’t find a trail and ended up bushwhacking our own trail.

The arrow marks the arch as we approach it

Two years ago a large section of the right side of the arch collapsed, so Ring Arch is now very thin and may not have much life left.

Lunch with a view

Nap with a view?

On the hike back to the road we again couldn’t find a defined trail.  So we followed some animal trails, enjoying great views of the snow covered La Sal Mountains in the distance.

The mountains also provided the backdrop for great views as we drove through another section of Arches NP after completing the hike.

Although we didn’t get to do our planned hike with Steve and Mona Liza, we did get to finally locate Ring Arch and cross it off our to-do list.

Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Short Hikes and Hanging with Friends

Moab, UT

The weather for the last few days has been uncharacteristically cool and rainy in eastern Utah, keeping us from doing much in the way of exploration.  But we have been able to sneak in a couple of short adventures between the clouds, wind, and rain.

One of those short excursions was a drive out to see a couple of arches just south of Moab.  To get there we drove south on Rte. 191 thirteen miles from Center Street in Moab.  At the top of a hill we turned right on to a fairly smooth dirt road.  After 5.4 miles on the dirt road  Lone Rock (also called Prostitute Butte) came into view.

Lone Rock (or Prostitute Butte)

We turned off the main road and drove right next to Lone Rock and under Balcony Arch.

Balcony Arch

Continuing on the narrow dirt road we drove around Lone Rock and quickly arrived at Picture Frame Arch.

Picture Frame Arch

With a little bit of scrambling John was able to climb up on to a shelf and get inside the arch.

The Headless Climber

The view from behind the arch gives it the name Picture Frame, as the arch provides a nice frame to the scenery in the distance.

As we returned to the Jeep the wind became stronger and dark clouds began to roll in, so we ended our brief adventure and made our way back to town.

A couple of days later the skies cleared a bit (at least for part of the day) so we headed out for another brief period of exploration near town.  About a week ago a volunteer at the visitor center had given us directions to two places in the Moab area (Bartlett Slickrock and pictographs on Kane Creek Road) by drawing a crude map on some scratch paper.  We returned to the visitor center earlier this week to thank her and let her know we had found both locations.  Again, she drew a map on a piece of scratch paper to a location in the nearby Sand Flats Recreation Area where you could get a nice view of some nearby canyons.  And again, her directions were right on!

We drove to the east side of Moab and headed east up Mill Creek Road, which soon turns into Sand Flats Road.  There is a five dollar per vehicle entrance fee to continue up the well maintained dirt road into the Sand Flats Recreation Area, a huge area made up of mostly slickrock and filled with ATV/Jeep, mountain bike, and hiking trails.

Sand Flats Road

We drove 4.3 miles past the entrance gate, through a narrow channel in the road, and parked along the left side of the road.

Narrow section of Sand Flats Road

Looking back at the small parking area (on the right in the photo, on the left as you drive to it)

After parking the Jeep we walked just a short distance up the main road and turned right on to a narrow, little used side road.

Less than a mile out the old road, a large outcropping of slickrock came into view.  We decided the top of the rocks would be our destination.

We found a narrow path leading to the base of the rock and began our ascent.

Future Delicate Arch (in ten thousand years)

The top of the rock had a great 360 degree view of the Moab area.

A number of fellow gypsies are staying in the Moab area, so one night we all got together at a local restaurant to share a meal and some conversation.  Dave and Sue (Beluga’s Excellent Adventure) and Steve and MonaLiza (Lowes RV Adventures) are staying in the same park as us.  Tim and Amanda (Watsons Wander) are dry camping in an area north of town and have been joined there by Amanda’s parents.  Hector and Brenda (Island Girl Walkabout) just arrived in the area and are also dry camping north of town.


A couple of days later we had a happy hour/dinner at Steve and MonaLiza’s site.  Hector and Brenda came over to our park and Joe and Gay (Good Times Rollin), who are also here in the park, joined the group.  We enjoyed some snacks, drinks, conversation, and two of MonaLiza’s Filipino specialty dishes (Lumpia and Pancit).  Both dishes were delicious!



We were scheduled to leave Moab this Sunday and move on to Torrey, Utah outside Capitol Reef NP, but have altered our plans due to the weather.  Rain is predicted in both locations for the next few days and since Torrey is at over 6,000 feet there is some snow expected there.  We were able to extend our stay here (we’ll need to move to another site on Sunday) until Friday when the weather is predicted to be much better.  We love Moab so staying put another few days is certainly no problem for us.

Posted in Uncategorized | 23 Comments

Bartlett Slickrock – Moab, UT

Moab, UT

When we spoke with the two volunteers last week at the Moab visitor center, one of them told us about one of her favorite hiking sites, a place called Bartlett’s Slickrock.  The site is not a marked trail, just an area where you can hike out on a wide slickrock shelf with a great view.  So on Sunday we drove out to explore the area.

To get there you drive north on Hwy. 191 from Moab for about ten miles.  Follow the signs for Canyonlands NP and Dead Horse Point SP and turn left on to UT-313.  After driving 8.6 miles turn right at the sign for Lone Mesa Group Campground.  Take this maintained dirt road for 1.4 miles and turn left on to Dubinky Well Road.

Take the Dubinky Road 2.6 miles and just past the cattle guard turn right.  In just .2 of a mile there is a fence gate across the road with a small area to park a vehicle.  Park there and hike past the gate up the narrow road along a fence.

The parking spot and cattle gate

Just a short distance from the gate the fence makes a right turn.  Leave the road and continue to hike along the fence until it ends.

The right turn of the fence

When you reach the end of the fence just follow the slickrock along a cliff.  There is no set path so you can just go where ever you want and hike out along the edge as far as you like.  If you don’t want to have to scramble up to the higher ridge from below, bear left instead of following the fence all the way to the end.  This route will take you up on top.

Check out this tall cairn!

Going out we hiked along a lower  shelf, knowing we would hike the top shelf on the way back.  The lower shelf requires some mild scrambling in a few places.

A bit of scrambling on the lower shelf

Interesting rock layers are exposed along the lower shelf

After a while the lower shelf began to narrow and we could see that it would soon come to an end so we found a spot where we could climb up the slickrock to the wide rim above us on the mesa.

Once on top we continued over a very wide area of slickrock.

The various colors displayed by the layers of rocks are quite interesting.

As is often the case in this area, the snow covered La Sal Mountains provided a beautiful backdrop to the view.

Lunch with a view

Balanced rock

Peaking owl eyes

High healed shoe?

You can make this hike as long (or short) as you like.  We hiked two miles out to where we sat and enjoyed the view while having lunch.  But the shelf we were on appeared to continue out for miles.

Looking back at our lunch spot

This is a great area for a relaxing afternoon of exploration.  The color patterns in the slickrock are beautiful and the views are very impressive.

Posted in Uncategorized | 31 Comments

Professor Creek/Mary Jane Canyon Trail

Moab, UT

The temperatures for Friday were predicted to be in the high 80s, so it was a good day to hike in a canyon with the cool water of a creek around us.  With that in mind we headed out to hike the Professor Creek Trail through Mary Jane Canyon.  The creek is named after Dr. Sylvester Richardson, who with his wife Mary Jane, were among the first settlers in the area back in the 1880’s.  Sylvester’s nickname was ‘Professor’ for which the creek and surrounding valley is named. The canyon that Professor Creek flows through is named after Mrs. Richardson.

To get to the trailhead drive 18.4 miles from the intersection of US 191 and UT 128 on the north end of Moab.  The turnoff is marked by a sign which reads “Ranch Road Dead End.”  Follow the dirt road a little over two miles to where it ends in a small parking area.  There are two trailheads that share this parking area, one is the Sylvester Trail while the other is the Professor Creek Trail.  Beyond the parking area is a great view of the rock formation known as the Priest and Nuns.

Parking area with the Priest and Nuns and Castle Rock in the distance

A closer look at the Priest and Nuns with Castle Rock on the left

The Professor Creek Trail begins at the north end of the parking area and proceeds along a sand path for a short distance before dropping down along Professor Creek.

For the rest of the hike the trail meanders along the creek, crossing back and forth as it heads up into the canyon.

The first of 1,243 creek crossings

The first two miles of the hike are along the creek in a shallow canyon.  After that the canyon deepens and the wall loom over top of the trail.

In some spots there is no room for the trail along the water so the trail is forced to go up and over some boulders before returning to the creek bed.

We picked a good time to visit this trail as the water level was low enough to walk along its bank for most of the hike.  If the water was a little deeper the trail would disappear in sections, requiring wet feet.  As it was we did get a bit wet and some hikers just walked up the middle of the creek in the ice cold water.

The hike ends in a narrow section of the canyon where a large boulder about fifteen feet above the trail creates a strongly flowing waterfall and blocks further progress.

Approaching the waterfall

Pool at the base of the waterfall

Looking back down the canyon from the waterfall

Hiking back down the canyon

One of the 1,243 creek crossings on the return hike

Back out of the canyon

This hike was listed as a bit over eight miles round trip, but we found it to be almost ten and a half.  While there is very little elevation change, the rocky terrain and many creek crossings along with the distance of the trail made it a challenging hike.  But the beautiful views in Mary Jane Canyon and the cool waterfall made it well worth the effort.

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Kane Creek Ancient Art

Moab, UT

One day earlier this week we stopped by the main visitor center in Moab and inquired about any interesting hikes they could recommend.  When two volunteers found that we had hiked many of the trails they usually recommend, they decided to share a couple of spots that most visitors don’t have the time or interest to visit.  One of their recommendations was a visit to two places near each other along Kane Creek Road where there is some nice petroglyphs to see.  The locations are not on any conventional map so they took out a piece of scratch paper and drew the handy dandy map in the photo below.

Surprisingly, we were able to locate both spots with very little difficulty.  To get to the location we drove out Kane Creek Road to where the paved part of the road ends.  We parked in a large dirt lot on the right side of the road, just before the road turns 90 degrees to the left.

The first piece of art they described is a single figure drawn on a large boulder sitting on top of a high mesa.  The first section of the hike to this drawing is on Jackson’s Trail, which begins on the west side of the parking area.

The trail immediately drops down and crosses Kane Creek.

Just a tenth of a mile or so past the creek the trail splits.  Jackson’s Trail continues straight ahead, but our trusty map told us to turn on to a trail going up on the left.

A short distance from the split the trail goes through an area of slick rock.  At this point we needed to turn to the left, but the map was a bit confusing and we followed a trail straight ahead for about a quarter mile before realizing our mistake.  From the point where we turned around we could clearly see the trail we needed to be on.

Once on the correct trail we headed steeply up for about a tenth of a mile.

At the top of the mesa we quickly found our goal, a large drawing on a boulder believed to be over a 1,000 years old.

After checking out the petroglyph, we found a high spot on some rocks to enjoy the views and have a bit of lunch.

The view to the east

The Colorado River to the west

Lunch with a view

Looking down to the road below us to the north we could see a long panel of solid rock.  A closer look with binoculars revealed our next destination, a panel of petroglyphs located above the road.

We descended back down to the parking area and walked down the road for about a quarter mile where our trusty map said there was a trail leading up to the panels.  Sure enough, we found a rough trail going up steeply to the base of the rock wall.  A little searching revealed the panel of drawings we had spotted from our lunch perch.

Returning to the parking area along Kane Creek Road

While only hiking about three miles, this little adventure exposed us to some nice petroglyphs.  It also allowed us to stretch our legs just a bit after a long hike the previous day.  But we don’t want to get too spoiled as the nimble hiker has a longer trip planned for tomorrow.

More on that later . . .

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Hidden Valley – Moab

Moab, UT

Hiking the Hidden Valley Trail has been on our must-do list of hikes for this year’s visit to Moab.  So when blogging friends Amanda and Tim (Watsons Wander) recently posted about their experience on this trail, we knew we had to do it.

The Hidden Valley Trailhead is located four miles south of Center Street in Moab west of Rte. 191.  Turn right on to West Angel Rock Road for about a half mile and then turn right at the “T” and follow the road into the parking area for the trail.  The trailhead is clearly marked at the south end of the lot.

The trailhead with the La Sal Mountains to the east

The first hundred yards of the trail winds through a rocky area.

Then it goes steeply uphill through a series of switchbacks called Barney’s Rubble for a half mile.

Once up Barney’s Rubble the trail goes through Hidden Valley on a flat, straight, hard-packed sand trail for a mile and a half.

At the other side of the valley the trail makes a short climb to a pass, with the trail splitting on top of the pass.  We turned right at the split.  The trail splits again in a couple hundred feet. We turned left along a wide ledge at the base of a high rock wall.  The rock along the wall is filled with petroglyph panels.

Apparently romance was in the air in ancient times?

The wide ledge slowly descended along the high wall.  As it approached the valley floor we came to a split in the trail.  Turning left would continue our hike down, while turning right would lead steeply up a wide, dry drainage wash.  Our research revealed that there were more petroglyphs up there and that we might even find two sets of ruins.  So up the wash we went, stopping for lunch along the way.

Lunch with a view

Heading up the wash

We were following what some call a “social trail” up the wash, meaning it was an informal trail that was really just a set of tracks left by a few earlier hikers.  At one point we had to climb up a shelf on the south side of the wash to continue, which just added to the fun.

OK, where did the trail go?

Once at the top of the wash we were treated to great views in all directions.

The La Sal Mountains to the east

Behind the Rocks Wilderness Study Area to the wests

As we rested at the top we noticed an arch nearby.  OK, it was pretty small, but still resembled an arch!

At the top of the wash we turned to the right on to a fairly wide rock fin where the first of two ruins was suppose to be located.  We didn’t see anything of interest until we looked more closely down the fin with binoculars.  Sitting on top of a toadstool-like formation was the wall of the ruins.

The circular wall of the ruins

The information we were following on this hike said that it was a fairly easy scramble up on to the ruins.  The writer must have been related to Spiderman!

We couldn’t get up to these ruins but John continued a bit to see if we could get to a second set of ruins further down the rocky fin.  But the fin came to a steep end, so we turned around and headed back up to the top of the wash.

The end of the road (trail)

Once back at the top we followed the directions and found a path along another wide ledge on the north side of the wash.

Heading down the north side of the wash

Soon more panels of art came into view.

We spotted the area of the second set of ruins above us and climbed up to where our instructions said we could get to them.

Our instructions said that the climb up is not as difficult as it appears because of good hand and foot holds, but larger hikers will struggle fitting up where it is easy.  The writer must have been a bean pole as the crack in the rock was very narrow.  There was no way we were getting up there!

Looking through a hole in the rock to the trail below

We then began our descent and soon found the main trail leading back to Hidden Valley.

The photo below shows the long ledge where we hiked to the second ruin.  The three white arrows point to this ledge with panels of art all along the way.  The arrow pointing down is the location of the first set of ruins.  The second ruin is at the end of this row to the left.

Once we returned to the main trail we hiked back through the valley, enjoying the beautiful view of the snow covered mountains along the way.

After a pleasant walk through the valley we began the steep descent through Barney’s Rubble, a long haul on tired legs.

The parking area at the trailhead comes into view

The nimble hiker uses all her skills to keep upright

This seven mile hike has a little bit of everything you want in a hike.  The steep up and down of Barney’s Rubble provides plenty of exercise, the views are beautiful, and the Indian art is impressive.

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Corona Arch – Moab

Moab, UT

Today we asked Dave and Sue to join us for a visit to the Corona Arch, one of our favorite arches in the Moab area.  The arch is located on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land and is accessed by a short trail (about 1.5 miles one way) that begins along Potash Road about ten miles from Moab.

Dave and John view the arch as it comes into view

Most of the trail to the arch is fairly easy, but there is one section that goes steeply up the rocks.  A cable and ladder are there to help hikers up and down this section.

Dave and Sue go up along the cable . . .

. . . then navigate the ladder

John went ahead and climbed up on top of the arch, while the others waited to snap his picture.

See the dot on top of the arch?

OK, so the hiker on top of the arch wasn’t John.  But he did talk to the guy after he climbed down.

John and Dave under Bowtie Arch next to Corona

This is a huge arch – note John and Dave standing under it

The view from near the arch with a heart on the right

Lunch with a view

Back down the cable

After returning to the trailhead we continued up Potash Road and drove on to Shafer Road.  The famous final scene from the movie Thelma and Louise, where they drive off a cliff, was filmed along this road.  Last week, when we were in the visitor center in Dead Horse Point State Park, we asked a ranger for the location and were told it was on the west side of Dead Horse Point.  We hiked around that area but we couldn’t find anyplace where the scene could have happened.  A little research revealed that the ranger was incorrect, the location is southeast of the point, right along Shafer Road.  We’ve been on that road many times but didn’t know about the film location.  So today we went out and found the exact spot where the car shot over the rim into the canyon below.

A screen grab from the film

The Jeep parked right where the car “took off”

We discussed re-enacting the scene but no one volunteered to drive the Jeep. Oh well, maybe next time.

Another great adventure in beautiful eastern Utah.  Thanks Dave and Sue for sharing it with us.

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments