Still in the Desert – Moab and Bears Ears

“…where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.” -Ed Abbey

Back in January, I had one of the most fantastic backpacking experiences I could ever recall.

The solitude, the scenery, the history, and overall feel led to a trip that will forever be a benchmark for top trips.

I walked down the canyon with mileage goals as secondary.  I scrambled up ledges, peered into kivas, explored pictographs, and saw places not denoted on most modern maps.

And as with any place felt an affinity for, I felt the need to see more.

Another canyon called.  Another Perfect Kiva waited.

My friend Joan, conveniently based in Moab, will be moving from the area soon.

I proposed a backpacking trip to the area I wanted to explore. An area Joan wanted to see as well.

The road trip made a pitstop in Moab. And while Joan worked, I played in immediate Moab area. 🙂

A hiking trail is conveniently located behind Joan’s home

The red rock beckoned as I hiked along.  I saw many bicyclists out and about on the well-maintained single track.

A few hours later Joan arrived home from work, and she introduced me to a favorite local hiking trail.

Joan pointed out an exquisite panel of Rock Images along the way.

From our vantage point, we could see the light show starting. We could see the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park across the way.

The rocks glowed with the light of the setting sun.

And the light show just became better the longer we waited.

The following evening we drove to near our trailhead and dispersed camp.

Our permit procured quickly enough in the morning, we spotted my vehicle at one fork and did a quick road walk to the other fork.

We entered the canyon and found a cairned route that went around a dryfall.

Down to the canyon, we went. We spied our social trail and went to another Perfect Kiva.

As with The Perfect Kiva in January, this Perfect Kiva was isolated if a bit more hidden up high on the canyon wall. The kiva had the same feeling of the sacred.

We found another interesting rock panel around the corner from the kiva.

Joan and I bumped into a group out hiking for the day. The knowledgeable gentleman told us about some other sites located just below the canyon rim that required some scrambling to see. We were game!

PCO Joan.

We enjoyed the panorama from the sites into the canyon below.

PCO Joan.

We could see handprints in the adobe from the original creators.

After our canyon rim exploration, we scrambled back to the canyon floor.

We hiked further along and found another kiva by scoping out the south facing canyon walls and looking for faint social trails.

Looking into the kiva.

The canyon continued to draw us on.

We spotted a two-level granary along the canyon wall.

And at the granary, we spotted some unique pictographs.

We scoped out another portion of the canyon. And continued to see the history that came before us.

Kiva made primarily of old logs.

Of course, we saw 700+-year-old archeological remnants.

We continued our trek down the canyon. The closer we came to the San Juan River, the more dramatic the canyon walls above us became.

PCO Joan.

We did one last scrambling up to the canyon and admired a view into another fork of the canyon. A fork that I’ll need to explore at some other time.

We made our camp that night and enjoyed the brilliant night sky above. The soft bedding of the ground cover, the full day, and the quiet sound of the Utah wilderness soon saw me dozing off.

The following morning we walked our final fork of the canyon to my vehicle on the canyon rim.

We spotted one last Pueblo site before we popped above the rim proper.

We reached the car…and still wanted to hike!

As Joan’s time in Moab will soon be finished, I had to show here one of my favorite day hikes in the Bears Ears area: The Citadel.

A commanding view of the area that encompasses much of the Pueblo world.

PCO Joan.

We reached The Citadel. And the amazing condition of this place continues to impress.

Joan enjoyed this spot as much as I did!

We had time for one final hike. A hike that conveniently went into the canyon we spied from The Citadel.

We followed a somewhat hidden cairned route into the canyon.

We found our site and explored the area.

“Museums displays” are generally frowned upon.

We made our way back to the trailhead. Some last views into yet another canyon we need to come back to and explore more!

We reached the vehicle.

And I know at some point these ancients paths will again be walked.

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6 years ago

What a fantastic trip, Paul! I’m still amazed by the number and diversity of sites that we saw. What a great way to say goodbye-for-now to Utah.

6 years ago

Wow!! What amazing hikes–loved seeing the history & kivas. & how super to enjoy them ‘off the beaten path’ & thanks for sharing your great pics & adventure. Happy Trails! (found you thru The Trail Show)

Mike B
Mike B
6 years ago

Awesome hike. I’m happy to see that you are makng good use of your time (and a little jealous).