Tushar Mountains Autumn Splendor

Autumn in the American West is my favorite time to be outside.  Period.

And not just mine, either.

Back in The Front Range, vast amounts of people celebrate the change of the seasons by driving up to the mountains.

The aspens are blazing yellow and sometimes red.  The mountains form a dramatic backdrop. And the mountain air is bracing.

The problem? Too many people in the Denver area also feel the same. Or more perhaps more accurately, are not good stewards of this Autumn delight.  Piles of poop, bags of trash, and too many people for the facilities to handle the number of people who are not courteous of others.  The USFS closed the bathrooms at the top of the popular Kenosha Pass hiking area.

If I needed a reminder of why I left The Front Range? Closed bathrooms because too many people can’t pack out their trash, is as good a reminder as any reason.

The Moab-area certainly has its share of congestion in traffic. Especially in Arches National Park on any given weekend in all but the winter months. However, that is one spot easily avoided.

Go to the mountains or the lesser-known canyons? I can drive there without backed up traffic, find a parking spot, and go hiking with ease.  My bank account no longer has a Front Range IT salary flowing into the coffers. But I think being able to access the outdoors without worrying about piles of poop and bags of trash, and driving in backed up traffic to get there, is (so far!) a worthy trade-off.

Sunset view just above our backpacking campsite.

Which is a roundabout way of saying I am enjoying exploring the new home.

For Joan’s birthday weekend, we met some friends from Salt Lake in the Tushar Mountains.

Best known for the Paiute ATV Trail and the Skyline National Recreation Trail,  hikers will find the higher volcanic peaks lightly used. The main road through the mountains is busy, and many people boondock along the road, but hikers will typically see more hunters than hikers or mountain bikers.

We enjoyed two days of backpacking, mixed in with some camping and day hiking. We climbed two peaks in the range, marveled at the aspens, and enjoyed the tundra walking.  All immersed in the short and sweet Fall season.

Mountain goats on the ridge between Delano and Holly. The DNR introduced the goats in 1986. This herd seeded the La Sals in 2013.

Be it our backpacking campsite or a dispersed site later; the Tushars did not disappoint.

Sunset from a dispersed campsite.

The Tushars themselves are not technical, but steep. Dramatic mountains with peaks that can be reached by anyone who can walk up steep areas and does not mind some scree hiking and talus hopping.

Taking a breather on the way up the steep talus slope.

And when you get to the summit? An ancient caldera presents itself surrounded by the vastness of Utah.

And though the way down is steep, the downclimb rewards patience and sure footing.

And after hiking? Dispersed sites tucked into the aspens beckon.

Our dispersed camp in the Tushars. To keep it simple, we used a mix of backpacking gear and the small car camping kit for the two different trips in one.  PCO Joan W.

And after an experience in the Tushars, a side trip to Fremont Indian State Park topped out the weekend. A memorable collection of Fremont and Paiute petroglyphs and pictographs. Some going back thousands of years!

The Tushars and the surrounding area made for a great birthday weekend. Here’s to more Utah exploration in the weeks and months ahead!

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