I plan to start a new position sometime in early to mid-June. As such, I decided to give myself the “gift of time” and take about a month off to relax, catch up on some house chores, and spend time outdoors (of course!).
Joan kiddingly said I should go on a hike to connect all the parks in the South East Utah Group (SEUG). Comprising of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and Hovenweep and Natural Bridges National Monuments, these swaths of NPS land plays a prominent role for us, be it our recreation, many of the friends we made in Moab, and our lives in Moab itself.
The more we thought about it, the more logical a route seemed. It’s a way to connect the land and the cultural geography it encompasses. And we even gave it a name – The SEUG Circuit.
We looked over print and electronic maps, cobbled some existing tracks from our many previous trips, and consulted other resources to see what looked good. With this wet year, water resources should work well, too.
Joan is my wife and favorite backpacking partner, and she’s no slouch herself when it comes to route planning, map reading, and getting excited over a potential route. She is a partner in my life and on the trail, and I can’t think of a better person to share this world with than her.
In addition to Joan, I should give a shout to Jamie Green.
Besides some great trip ideas that Joan and I used over the past few years, his many routes also indirectly inspired me for what I plan to hike and paddle. Jamie takes in Utah as the goal itself, with all the beauty and history found within its borders. I hope my route also takes similar pursuits in an equally satisfying manner.
Ultimately, it’s an ~250-mile route that takes in all four NPS units along with Bears Ears National Monument, USFS/BLM areas before Blanding, UT, and BLM land between Blanding, UT, and Hovenweep National Monument. I’ll even make a (very brief) jog into Colorado and step foot on the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.
I plan on starting on May 7th and finishing around the weekend of the 20th.
The route takes four logical segments to connect this route –
- Packraft from Moab to Spanish Bottom on the Colorado River
I’ll start from the Arches National Park at Courthouse Wash and the well-known panel overlooking the Colorado River.
From there, I’ll take off from the boat launch, pass The Confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers, and make my way toward Spanish Bottom, where I’ll pack up my gear before resupplying at the Needles Outpost.
- Spanish Bottom to Natural Bridges National Monument
From Spanish Bottom/Needles Outpost, I’ll make my way south through some lesser-seen places in Canyonlands and then into places where I’ll follow the paths of people who came into this area well before any modern hiker.
- Natural Bridges National Monument to Blanding, UT
A gem of a national monument is where Joan will meet up with me, resupply me, and we’ll probably spend some time hking and camping (with some cold beer and yummy food!).
After a day or two together, I’ll make my way through some lesser-known canyons and mesas before my route takes me into Blanding, UT.
- Blanding, UT to Hovenweep National Monument
From Blanding, I’ll continue my trek through even more obscure areas to go to one of our favorite places in Utah – Hovenweep National Monument.
We’ve ground-truthed these canyons and mesas on previous trips, and these areas contain much fascinating scenery and places that speak to the long history and culture of the Colorado Plateau.
Hovweenweep is fantastic and a place we never get tired of seeing—a fitting end for a trek that takes in scenic wonder and areas of historical and cultural importance.
Joan will pick me up there, and we’ll enjoy this gem of a place more before we return to our Moab home. And I’ll enjoy another cold beer or two!
And that’s my planned route for The SEUG Circuit.
EDIT – I completed the route, and here’s the write up – https://pmags.com/on-the-south-east-utah-group-seug-circuit