Sunday, February 24, 2008

Trip Report: Horseshoe Canyon, Canyonlands National Park

Alene and I needed to get out of town, so at the last minute (well, Thursday night), we decided to head down to the southern desert and visit a place I've never been before and Alene had not been since her field trip to Escalante (2001?).

Despite many warnings about the weather from everyone we knew that was familiar with the area, we decided to chance it, with a couple of back-up plans with going to Arches, or the other side of Canyonlands, both of which have paved roads running through them.

We left around 8:30am on Saturday and headed straight down to the Western side of Canyonlands (it's actually separate from the main park). We arrived at the main turn-off about noon and headed down the dirt road we were most worried about (the weather is still wet down there and the road is 30 miles to the trailhead and all dirt road, which can be really muddy and force us to turn around). Well, we lucked out. No wet weather, the road was actually REALLY dry, except for a couple of parts that were muddy for about 20', but we just gained speed in the subaru, and headed straight through it and out the other side. We were fine.

The hike was AMAZING. We were the only ones in the canyon. This canyon has one of the most oldest and largest gallery's of ancient art petroglyphs. The hike we did went about 1.5 miles down hill into the canyon, then extended another 2 miles to the main Gallery of art. Along the way we were able to see a couple of other areas of art, which were all very impressive. Some of the cool things were the fact that we had the canyon to ourselves. Also, your voice echos like crazy from some spots. The last thing that was cool was Alene bringing to my attention the fact that this is the canyon that Aron Ralston was found (well, he found the people that helped him as he hiked some 30 miles up the canyon).

The weather conditions were PERFECT, not too hot, not too cold. The only mis-hap was as we were leaving. We had already done about 1.5 miles back and were looking at another rock art panel, when we heard a VERY loud roar from the canyon (back where we were). It didn't sound like any sort of a cat or dog, but like a bears roar. Bears don't live out there, so we have no idea what it was. All I know is we picked up the pace and high-tailed it out of there.

After the hike, we drove on back, again lucky it never rained on our road (no rain in the immediate area, but there were plenty of clouds in the distance). We drove back to Green river where we had reserved a hotel room at a Comfort Inn (the nicest hotel in Green River). We ate a good burger at Ray's Tavern, then went back to crash and sleep away the hike.

Here are some pictures and videos of the trip:

The sign at the entrance of the dirt road into the canyon

The road going into the canyon

The trailhead into the canyon

Dinosaur print on the way down

Looking down into Horseshoe Canyon

Frozen part of Barrier Creek (which is the creek that runs through the canyon; the canyon was once called Barrier Canyon before it was engulfed by Canyonlands Natl. Park)

High Gallery, which is the first panel of art we see

Wind on the Sand

Cougar prints???

The Alcove Gallery

Looking away from the Alcove Gallery. It was almost in a natural half dome area.

The Great Gallery

Tyler by the Great Gallery's "Great Ghost"

Alene by the Great Gallery's "Great Ghost"

Ancient Hunters

Tyler & Alene at the Great Gallery panel

Leaving the canyon

The Road out...

The Alcove (with echo)

The Great Gallery (with echo)

Speeding down Robbers Roost Road

You can see a slideshow of all our photos here:

Horseshoe canyon slide show

1 comment:

  1. I am so jealous! Middle of Utah in February = incredible emptiness.

    Maybe the roar was a dinosaur?