Tips for the Historic Parks of the American Southwest (NUSWD

From hiking the remote canyons of Navajo country to the spectacular mountains of the Rockies, from Orca-spotting off Vancouver to the gold-rush towns of the Yukon, experience North America - a true wilderness paradise.

Moderators: sinecure, TravelFun, ballu, jimshu, JaliscoJudy

Re: Tips for the Historic Parks of the American Southwest (NUSWD

Postby thecakeisalie » Tue Oct 26, 2010 7:26 am

I forgot to followup on this thread, but I came back from this area a couple of weeks ago, and here's what I learned:

- Just because its a desert, doesn't mean it won't rain. A lot. I spent 4 days in Zion and 1 at Bryce, and it rained everyday. Three of the days were total washouts. Five nights camping, zero campfires. Rivers were swollen everywhere, which means lots of Plan B, C, D, etc. as far as hiking goes. I watched entire trees floating down the Virgin River on the day we were supposed to be hiking out of the Narrows. Good thing we made the smart move to stay out the day before!
- Definitely try and get a permit for the Left Fork (Subway). This was a great hike that was more of a scramble upstream than it was following a trail. Great payoff at the end. Apparently even better if you do it from the top, but without climbing gear and know-how we opted for the safer version.
- Definitely hike the Narrows (when the water allows, of course). Despite the rain earlier in the week, we improvised and came back to Zion before our flight out of Vegas. The water was 49F in the morning, but we rented canyon shoes and neoprene socks from Zion Adventure Company, and the water never felt all that cold. This hike through the canyon was probably the most fun I had all week.
- Lower Calf Creek Falls is a great hike, 3 miles one way to a large waterfall. The day we went it was pouring, and there were waterfalls all around, kind of looked like a "Lost World" (maybe I've seen too many dinosaur movies). The falls were thundering and I couldn't get a picture because the volume of water was sending too much wind and splash my way. Still, great hike that isn't too difficult.
- The drive up route 12 from Escalante to Boulder is amazing. Just make sure to keep both hands on the wheel and pull over to the side to stare, as this is not a place you want to wander from the road while driving. From Boulder, drive 10 miles east on Burr Trail road and you'll find a cool slot canyon just off the road on the north side. I know people will say "slot canyons are everywhere out here" but this one is literally right off the road, no hiking required to see it, and its not very long, only takes a few mintues to see.
- Bryce looks spooky in the fog. Unfortunately 75% of my time at Bryce Canyon was cloaked in fog, or pouring rain. I finally saw the rim of the ampitheater on the way out after doing the Queen's Garden/Navajo/Peekaboo loop in the fog (which looked like something out of Lord of the Rings, btw), but it is definitely a cool place, worth a trip back at some point. Still, I think one day was plenty.
- The Navajo are making bank at Antelope Canyon. After paying $6 to get onto their land, you then pay $25 for a tour of Upper Antelope ($40 for photo tour) which means you walk single file behind a couple hundred of your closest friends, all jockeying for position to get the best picture in a dimly lit slot. I would advise not going between 11am and 1pm, as that seemed to be worst for crowds (it is avertised that is the best time for pictures and my guess is that's why it was so crowded at that time). But in October the light beams are gone and I'm pretty sure you can still get some great pictures at other times of the day. Learn how to use your camera beforehand and bring a tripod! Also, don't knock over said tripod, as I did...
- Do stop by Horseshoe Bend, 5 minutes outside of Page, AZ. If it is sunset and there are clouds above, wait until after the sun goes down and watch the sky light up. Don't go back to your car right as the sun disappears over the horizon!
- Do try to get a permit for Coyote Buttes (The Wave), totally awesome scenery and great wilderness hiking if you get lucky. The BLM office is 30 minutes from Page (north on 89). Show up at 8:45am the day before you want to hike to enter the lottery. There are only 10 permits per day so it is a bit of a gamble but totally worth it if you win! If not, there's still quite a few things to see that are pretty close to the BLM office, such as the Toadstools.

I'll try to post some pics when I get them all organized, and I'm sure I left things out, but overall this area of southern Utah and norther Arizona has all kinds of places to be explored and some of the best scenery on the planet. If you get bored here it is your own fault! :lol:
User avatar
thecakeisalie
User Rank: Explorer
User Rank: Explorer
 
Posts: 594
Joined: Wed May 30, 2007 10:37 am
Location: Chicago, IL, USA

Re: Tips for the Historic Parks of the American Southwest (NUSWD

Postby IncaTrail50 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:04 pm

thecakeisalie wrote:- Do try to get a permit for Coyote Buttes (The Wave), totally awesome scenery and great wilderness hiking if you get lucky. The BLM office is 30 minutes from Page (north on 89). Show up at 8:45am the day before you want to hike to enter the lottery. There are only 10 permits per day so it is a bit of a gamble but totally worth it if you win!


Did you get a permit for the Wave? It does look awesome! I'm going to be entering the lottery for March 2011. Just wondering about the GPS suggestion on their site. Is it that difficult to find your way around in there? And how long to hike in and back, bearing in mind I know I'll be taking a few hundred pictures along the way!! :lol:
I will never let my dreams just be dreams.
User avatar
IncaTrail50
User Rank: Explorer
User Rank: Explorer
 
Posts: 579
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 6:12 am
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Re: Tips for the Historic Parks of the American Southwest (NUSWD

Postby graybeard » Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:28 pm

Howdy Cake...,

Sounds like you had a good time, despite the rain. Bet you got tired of folks telling you how unusual that much rain was that time or year. But, it true! :roll:
User avatar
graybeard
User Rank: World Wanderer
User Rank: World Wanderer
 
Posts: 304
Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 6:06 pm
Location: Denver, Colorado

Re: Tips for the Historic Parks of the American Southwest (NUSWD

Postby thecakeisalie » Thu Oct 28, 2010 6:38 am

IncaTrail50 - Yes, I got a permit for the wave by showing up the day before and taking part in the lottery. I got lucky, my traveling companion did not. Here's how it works: you fill out a form with the number of people in your party. This form is assigned a number based on the order in which you hand it to the rangers behind the desk, which then corresponds to a bingo ball. At exactly 9am the rangers run the lottery, picking bingo balls until there are no more permits left. Here's the catch: the permits are per person, not per party, so if the first number (and therefore party) called has 10 people, they will get all of the permits available for the next day.

On the day we were there, 38 people showed up (roughly 22 parties), the first number called took 2 permits, the next number called took 3 permits, the next number called took 4 permits. So with 1 permit remaining, guess whose number got called? That's right, my number. Everybody stared at us (myself and traveling companion) because it was clear a decision needed to be made: take the permit and split up for the day, or continue with the lottery until someone claimed the last permit. My travelling buddy, being the great guy that he is, immediately told me to take it and he would find something else to do. This disappointed a few other people still holding onto hope, but so it goes with the lottery, sometimes you win, sometimes you don't.

As for the hike itself, Coyote Buttes is a wilderness area, so there are no trails or posted signs. But the BLM office gives you a nice set of directions complete with color pictures, and its actually quite easy to find. You just follow the waypoints that they indicate, one at a time. There are also a couple of visual landmarks that you can see in the distance to keep you on the right heading. At a leisurely pace it took me 1.25hrs to reach the wave, and I too was taking tons of pictures along the way. Its easier to get a little lost on the way back so be sure to study your surrounding going out, so you don't miss the exit point. As they will explain at the BLM office, most people who get lost wind up overlooking the wash that heads into Buckskin Gulch. Not the end of the world either, just causes a little backtracking.

Graybeard - Sounds like you are familiar with the rain that hit the area at the beginning of the month, huh? Because that is exaclty what I was thinking. Everybody kept saying, "Boy, it hasn't rained around here in 3 months!" or "Gosh, I've lived here 10 years and never seen rain like this!" Seriously, I was in Cambodia during the rainy season a month prior and didn't experience even a quarter of the rain we got in the "desert." Good thing we had some flexibilty in the schedule. On the day we were flying out of Vegas on a redeye back to Chicago I had a hotel booked in St. George. So instead of heading back to Vegas early to hit the craps tables we went back to Zion and did the bottom up Narrows under crystal clear skies. Best decision we made the whole trip, and probably my favorite hike, maybe of anywhere in the world.
User avatar
thecakeisalie
User Rank: Explorer
User Rank: Explorer
 
Posts: 594
Joined: Wed May 30, 2007 10:37 am
Location: Chicago, IL, USA

Re: Tips for the Historic Parks of the American Southwest (NUSWD

Postby thecakeisalie » Thu Oct 28, 2010 6:44 am

IncaTrail50 - I forgot to mention, if you get the permit you should probably plan on spending the whole day out there. Besides the wave there are quite a few other features that are worth exploring, many of them hidden secrets or at least little known gems. So few people get a chance to hike the area that they don't get much exposure, but trust me if you like photography there is no shortage of subjects out there. I put a link to a few pictures from the area in the Travel Blog and Photography section.
User avatar
thecakeisalie
User Rank: Explorer
User Rank: Explorer
 
Posts: 594
Joined: Wed May 30, 2007 10:37 am
Location: Chicago, IL, USA

Re: Tips for the Historic Parks of the American Southwest (NUSWD

Postby IncaTrail50 » Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:42 am

I did see your pictures after I had asked about the permit. They are awesome! I hope I get a permit too! I'll enter the online lottery but if we aren't successful online maybe we'll plan on being there several days ahead/after the conference so we can try a few times for the daily lottery. I do like photography and working with various light in those canyon situations, guess I better buy a big memory card for just there if I go! :o
I will never let my dreams just be dreams.
User avatar
IncaTrail50
User Rank: Explorer
User Rank: Explorer
 
Posts: 579
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 6:12 am
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Re: Tips for the Historic Parks of the American Southwest (NUSWD

Postby IncaTrail50 » Wed Dec 01, 2010 7:12 pm

Woota! I was successful in getting a permit for the Wave! :D

Hey, Cakeisalie, is there somewhere close by to spend the night? We'll be based in Glendale/Pheonix for a conference but that seems a bit far to drive the morning of the hike.
I will never let my dreams just be dreams.
User avatar
IncaTrail50
User Rank: Explorer
User Rank: Explorer
 
Posts: 579
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 6:12 am
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Re: Tips for the Historic Parks of the American Southwest (NUSWD

Postby graybeard » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:33 pm

Hello Inca..
Congrats on the permit. It is a long drive from Phoenix to trailhead area.

Here's a link that provide general info:
http://www.besthike.com/northamerica/us ... /wave.html

Depending on your adventure threshold, it is easy enough to just drive off a main road, up a dirt track or two until well out of sight and then free camp. But, only when it is dry. Those dirt roads can turn into nasty, wheeling sucking mud when wet and are best avoided. Motels are available in Kanab or Page. Note the time zone differences which can make things a little confusing.

Enjoy.
User avatar
graybeard
User Rank: World Wanderer
User Rank: World Wanderer
 
Posts: 304
Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 6:06 pm
Location: Denver, Colorado

Re: Tips for the Historic Parks of the American Southwest (NUSWD

Postby thecakeisalie » Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:56 am

Congrats on getting a permit, that's the hardest part!

For lodging I'd look into Page (over Kanab) for two reasons: there are a few more restaurants, and it is closer to Phoenix, which I'm assuming you are returning to after you go hiking. There isn't much to do in Page itself, but it is a good base to explore the region if you have the time. How much time do you have, btw?

Good link by graybeard, all the info you need is in there. Note that the permit cost me $7 in October (compared to the $5 listed), not that this will be a big concern - I hope you're carrying more than 5 dollars regardless! And definitely note the time zone, as mentioned. During daylight savings time Page, AZ is one hour behind the BLM office, which is in Utah. Arizona doesn't change their clocks, so in March you may be on the same time zone, I'm not really sure. I'm assuming you'll have to stop by the BLM office to get the actual permit, I'd recommend getting there first thing in the morning, or if possible the day before, as you'll want as much time as you can afford to be spent in Coyote Buttes.

Good luck and enjoy!
User avatar
thecakeisalie
User Rank: Explorer
User Rank: Explorer
 
Posts: 594
Joined: Wed May 30, 2007 10:37 am
Location: Chicago, IL, USA

Re: Tips for the Historic Parks of the American Southwest (NUSWD

Postby IncaTrail50 » Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:57 pm

Thanks for the link, Graybeard. It does indeed have lots of info. It will help me kill time until March! Lots of links to other good reading about the area, too.
Page sounds good, thecakeisalie. We actually are thinking to drive back after the hike. Sadly we only have that day. It's a conference for my university professor husband and it's in the middle of the semester so he can't cancel too many classes. Happily we have been to Arizona and Utah before so we have seen lots of the sights. Also good is that when we are on vacation we are up with the crack of dawn so as not to miss a minute of exploring time! We may have a couple of hours of daylight before the ranger station opens for us to get our map.
And we've paid for our permits already. The online lottery requires that you pay for your permits within 15 days of the lottery win (or forfeit them :shock: ) and they are mailed to you in 4-6 weeks. I didn't take any chances, I paid it within the hour! :lol:
I will never let my dreams just be dreams.
User avatar
IncaTrail50
User Rank: Explorer
User Rank: Explorer
 
Posts: 579
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 6:12 am
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Re: Tips for the Historic Parks of the American Southwest (NUSWD

Postby thecakeisalie » Thu Dec 02, 2010 6:09 pm

Yikes! That makes for an extremely long day, I hope you're sharing the driving after all of that hiking. If I recall correctly, Page is a 6 hour drive from Phoenix. From Page, the access road to Coyote Buttes is about 35 minutes (5 miles past the BLM station towards Kanab). Then the drive to the trailhead takes another 30-45 minutes down that road, because its just a bumpy mess. Keep that in mind when calculating your return driving time. Will you have time to get the BLM office on the day before? If so, do it and get your map then so you can get an early start (and there's a good chance you'll have the wave all to yourself, that's what I did). If not let me know, I might still have the map they gave me, I could scan it in for you.

And speaking of that road, it is easy to miss coming from Page. It is on the left side of the road just after you come through a break in the rocks on a hard right curve. The danger here is that if there are any cars coming the other direction you have to stop in the middle of road in what is effectively a blind spot, waiting to turn left. A truck will not be able to stop in time coming around that corner, and your rental car won't win the battle. If there are any cars coming from the opposite direction or any traffic in your rearview, just go a little further up the road, pull off and wait until you can make a u-turn. In hindsight, I'm surprised this hasn't been addressed before, maybe it has... anyway, better safe than sorry.
User avatar
thecakeisalie
User Rank: Explorer
User Rank: Explorer
 
Posts: 594
Joined: Wed May 30, 2007 10:37 am
Location: Chicago, IL, USA

Re: Tips for the Historic Parks of the American Southwest (NUSWD

Postby IncaTrail50 » Fri Dec 03, 2010 9:07 pm

thecakeisalie wrote: The danger here is that if there are any cars coming the other direction you have to stop in the middle of road in what is effectively a blind spot, waiting to turn left. A truck will not be able to stop in time coming around that corner, and your rental car won't win the battle.


OMG! You aren't kidding about the blind spot on the left-hand turn! :shock: I walked around there on Google maps. Sheesh! I was even afraid for my little google-me standing in the middle of the road! :lol: Thanks for the warning. We looked more at the distances and we'll probably stay an extra night. We'll be worn out from the hike and the sun so sitting in the car for 7-8 hours after it doesn't seem like a good idea!
I will never let my dreams just be dreams.
User avatar
IncaTrail50
User Rank: Explorer
User Rank: Explorer
 
Posts: 579
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 6:12 am
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Re: Tips for the Historic Parks of the American Southwest (NUSWD

Postby IncaTrail50 » Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:06 am

We are back from hiking the Wave! Thanks for all your tips, Cake, it saved us time and from getting lost! I kept looking back as we hiked in so I knew what to look for when we were on our way out, something I wouldn't have considered without your advice. Even at that we had a few moments when we were sure we were lost, and it was clouding over. Also, we did stay in Page and left early enough that after bumping along that access road for 45 minutes we were still starting our hike at 9:15AM. It was in really bad shape because it had a rained a day or two before and there were giant ruts and boggy spots. The BLM office was closed because we were there on a Saturday but we had paid our fees online and received our map with our permits in the mail in January. Arriving after a rain meant that the desert was greener than normal and a few flowers were out. We were pumped enough from the hike that we made the drive back to Phoenix after and got in around 7:30PM. We stopped at Horseshoe Bend too, great spot. Had a minor OMG moment as we arrived at the edge and found a couple of small kids running back and forth and climbing along the rocks at the edge, their parents oblivious to the danger apparently :shock: .
Now the problem is sorting through all my pictures! We were the only ones there for a bit so we got some good shots without anyone in them, and then some later ones with a few small specks of people for perspective!
Thanks again, your advice was a big help!
Kim
I will never let my dreams just be dreams.
User avatar
IncaTrail50
User Rank: Explorer
User Rank: Explorer
 
Posts: 579
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 6:12 am
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Re: Tips for the Historic Parks of the American Southwest (NUSWD

Postby thecakeisalie » Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:19 pm

Glad to hear you made it safe and sound! I see from your avatar that you had some decent weather at least for photos... so have you posted them anywhere for us to see? And what were the temps like this time of year?
User avatar
thecakeisalie
User Rank: Explorer
User Rank: Explorer
 
Posts: 594
Joined: Wed May 30, 2007 10:37 am
Location: Chicago, IL, USA

Re: Tips for the Historic Parks of the American Southwest (NUSWD

Postby IncaTrail50 » Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:33 pm

thecakeisalie wrote:Glad to hear you made it safe and sound! I see from your avatar that you had some decent weather at least for photos... so have you posted them anywhere for us to see? And what were the temps like this time of year?


We had wonderful weather and a bit of cloud in the sky for the pictures! It was cool, mid-50s F or 10s C so perfect for hiking. Here's a link to a few and I'll post in the travel tales/photography as well. I took a crazy number of pictures so it was hard to pare it down. I included a few from our hike in Phoenix too, bird shots. An awesome trip!

http://cmd.shutterfly.com/commands/pict ... album=1634
I will never let my dreams just be dreams.
User avatar
IncaTrail50
User Rank: Explorer
User Rank: Explorer
 
Posts: 579
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 6:12 am
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

PreviousNext

Return to North America

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest