Grotto Canyon and Horse Heaven Arch

On Sunday, Dad and I hiked Steve Allen’s Grotto Canyon loop trail in the Northern San Rafael Reef. The Tidwell Draw road out to the trailhead was in rough shape. It was the worst I have seen it in. I had to use four wheel drive a couple times to get through washouts. But we finally got to the trailhead at 11:30. The trail starts out kind of unremarkable.

After a short distance it gets better and the canyon deepens.

Once it narrows up there was a pothole we couldn’t make it past so we had to backtrack and climb out of the canyon.

After climbing back in it narrows up again nicely. We stemmed over two pools but was stopped by a third but the end was within sight.

The narrows end at a large dryfall so we backtracked and climbed out. We then hiked past the dryfall and climbed back in the canyon.

Just after dropping in there was a leaning rock barely balancing on a small rock.

We headed up canyon for a short way, then climbed out and hiked North over to an old cowboy cabin.

After the cabin, we continued North into another canyon to see Horse Heaven Arch.

After seeing the arch we backtracked and headed down canyon. This canyon had a lot of potholes full of water.

There is one big dryfall but it is easily bypassed.

This canyon took us back to the trailhead and finished our loop. It took us 5 hours and was a bit over 5 miles long. The weather was perfect plus we had the area all to ourselves. Good day.

Photo Gallery: Grotto Canyon

GPS Tracklog: Google Earth KMZ


East Cedar Mountain

East Cedar Mountain has been on my list for a long time. I first read about it Michael Kelsey’s book. So finally I decided to give it a shot on Sunday. I drove down to Emery and then took the Miller Canyon road down to I-70. From there it was all dirt roads to Cedar Mountain. The drive in was nice, no traffic and fairly smooth roads.

I got to my desired parking spot and the wind was blowing really hard. I sat there debating whether to go or just ride around. I finally talked myself into doing it. The plan was to walk up the ridge line but staying on the South, just below the ridge cut the wind down quite a bit. The hike up was steep and lots of boulders. It took about an hour forty five to reach the top.

I wanted to go further but the peaks were steep and loose rocks all around. Plus huge dropoffs all around so I didn’t want to chance it and turned around. The hike down was quicker because I didn’t have to take as many rest breaks.

After getting back to the truck, I sat there and ate my lunch consisting of a salami sandwich and mountain dew. I took a different way home. I was headed for the Lonetree Crossing and Salt Wash. I did take a wrong turn once but it didn’t take long to figure out I was in the wrong spot. The bridge was a lot narrower than I thought it was going to be. After the crossing I drove down I-70 and through Buckhorn Draw to home.

It was a good hike but the wind was a nightmare. If I got out on the North side ridge it felt like I was getting blown off the mountain. Now I can scratch that off my to do list.

Photo Gallery: East Cedar Mountain

GPS Tracklog: Google Earth KMZ


Posted by on February 16, 2015 in Desert, Hiking, Mountains, San Rafael Swell


Coal Cliffs Revisited

I had told my dad about my last rip to Coal Cliffs and he wanted to go out there since. So on Saturday we headed out there. We stopped at the same places as before. The first stop was at an old abandoned coal mine. We hiked down to the portal but it had been collapsed. We were able to go under some of the rockfall and follow a small seam a short distance.

Next we went over to the vent. It was still putting out heat and noxious fumes.

After that we headed over to a radio tower witch was near the edge. It was a little ways over to the edge and we could look down onto I-70. We sat there for a minute and was able to see several mule deer run by on top.

It was a good time getting out and riding into the desert. The weather was perfect, the temperture was in the lower sixties, good time to be out.

Photo Gallery

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Posted by on January 28, 2015 in 4X4, Desert, Outdoors


Arches National Park

On the 28th I headed down to Arches for the day with my sister and her boyfriend, who has never been to Arches. We had left at 8 and got to the park at 10:30. Next time I hope to leave earlier. We stopped in the visitor center and had a look around. It is really nice inside and worth a quick look. First stop was at the Moab Fault. This had a nice view over the visitor center.

It had been some time, over ten years, since I have been to Arches. So we stopped at most of the roadside stops. Some places I don’t ever remember stopping at before. Like Park Avenue, I don’t think I have been to this little view before.

Next stop on our journey was the LaSal viewpoint.

We then stopped at Balanced Rock and walked around. We followed the trail around Balanced Rock.

After Balanced Rock, we drove past everything else to hike to Landscape Arch. I figured this time of year there wouldn’t be very many people and up to this point there weren’t. But at Landscape Arch every parking spot was taken so we ended up parking quite a ways away. And on the trail We ran into hordes of people. A lot of foreigners, some from Germany, India, and a lot of Asians. It was a elbow to elbow at the end near Landscape Arch.

This guy was eating ice as everyone took his picture.

He even followed us in.

Landscape Arch

Tunnel Arch

Pine Tree Arch

After that experience, it was starting to get late. So we headed for Delicate Arch. It was about 2:30 when we headed up. The hike in was good until we reached the ledge section of the trail. Here it is in shade most of the day and the trail became icy and slick. But with only a few slips and bruises we made it to the arch. Here there were lots of tourists waiting for the perfect shot. Luckily there weren’t many standing under the arch and I could get a few pictures without anyone in it.

Wolfe Ranch

Wolfe Ranch Petroglyphs

Trail up.

Delicate Arch

After getting back to the car it was 4:30 and the sun was going down fast. So we headed towards the Window section and got there in time before the sun went completely down. Lots of people here as well.

South Window

Turret Arch

The plan afterwards was to head into Moab for dinner but we got in a very long line of cars and everyone was heading for Moab. So instead we decided to go into Green River for dinner. After dinner the ride home wasn’t very fun. The snow started coming down heavy which lead to slow driving speeds into Price. It was a good trip and I look forward to doing it again in the spring or fall.

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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Desert, Hiking, Outdoors


Thousand Lake, Cathedral Valley Loop

On Labor Day weekend I wanted to go fishing and have a nice drive to the lake. So I decided to take the back way to Morrell Lake in Thousand Lake Mountain. I drove through the Mussentuchit Desert instead of Hwy 72. The road was in good shape and I made good time to Morrell Lake.

Dropping down into Willow Springs Wash

Willow Springs Cabin

View over Last Chance Desert

Solomon’s Temple and dike

Baker’s Ranch

Morrell Lake

I never did see a single person until I pulled up to Morrell Lake. There were two other groups fishing. I tried fishing for a while but never did catch anything. So I fried up a hamburger and then made my way back. Instead of going back the same way, I drove a little farther down into Cathedral Valley. The weather was perfect on top so I took my time heading down.

View of Cathedral Valley from Windy Ridge

Parked on Windy Ridge

After getting into Cathedral Valley I stopped and hiked over to the edge to look into South Desert.

Entering Cathedral Valley

South Desert

A large piece of flint

South Desert

Then it was down the switchbacks and back to the Mussentuchit.

Cathedral Mountain

A dike at the turn off

Solomon’s Temple

Even though the fishing wasn’t any good, I considered this an almost perfect trip. It was a nice laid back trip, a cooler full of Mountain Dew and couple of my favorite places.

Photo Gallery

GPS Tracklog (Google Earth .KML)

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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in 4X4, Desert, Fishing, Hiking, Outdoors


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El Rancho not so Rígido

When I bought my Toyota the guy told me he installed a coil spacer lift kit and it rode a bit rougher than stock. So I left it at that and just drove with it. Well on my trip to the Henry Mountains, the truck beat me up. The ride was just way too rough. When I got home I decided to pull out the coil spring boosters the previous owner installed. It helped some but was still a rough ride. So I looked into different shocks to replace the old ones with. I first was thinking of Bilstein 5100 and then I came across Rancho’s Quicklift shocks. The Ranchos came with new coils installed and a ride adjustment knob. I thought it would be better to get new coils instead of using the old ones with the Bilsteins and that way I wouldn’t have to use a coil compressor either. So I went with the Ranchos.

Pulling the old shocks out was a nightmare. I started putting penetrating oil on all the nuts and bolts just after I order the shocks but it was not enough. Most of the bolts and nuts were rusted in place. I ended up snapping one stud off the old shock mount and then had to use the reciprocating saw to cut another one off because the stud stripped out.

After getting the old ones out putting the new ones in was easy. Everything fit like it was supposed to.

It took probably 4 hours removing the old shocks and 30 minutes putting the new ones in.

Was it worth all that trouble? Yes, my truck rides so much better now. The ride is not as harsh and I didn’t lose any ground clearance. The new shocks are adjustable but I just left it on the softest setting and that has been just fine.

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Posted by on September 3, 2014 in 4X4


Coal Cliffs

On Aug. 16, I rode out to the Coal Cliffs to check out an underground coal fire. Before getting to the vent, I first rode around checking things out. I stopped near an old coal mine where you could still see the old road and a car that had fallen off the edge. After that I rode farther along to another active coal mine. We parked on top and could see the Miller Canyon road.

Then it was onto the fire. I first passed the turnoff and had to turn around to get on it. It appeared no one has been on this road for a while. There were a few bad spots were the road had been washed out. After a slow bumpy ride, we finally made it. The vent hole had no smoke coming out but I could feel the heat and smell the fumes coming out. There was also a nerby pipe sticking out of the ground with holes in it. I could feel hot air pushing out of it as well.

I would have not known how to get out here let alone know about this place if it weren’t for Udink’s trip report.
It is definitely an interesting spot and worth checking out.

Photo Gallery

GPS Tracklog (Google Earth .KML)

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Posted by on September 1, 2014 in 4X4, Desert


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