Alene and I needed to get out of town for a night (cabin fever) so 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 archaeology field school in 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 from Hwy 24 across from the Temple Jct Road about noon and headed down the dirt road due east. We were most worried about road conditions (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 and 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 that day. This canyon has one of the most oldest and largest gallery's of ancient art pictographs. 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 about being in the canyon to yourself was that your voice echos like crazy from some spots. Another cool thing Alene bringing to my attention the fact that this is the canyon that Aron Ralston was found by some tourists hiking the canyon.
The weather conditions were PERFECT, not too hot, not too cold. The only relative 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 from the direction where we were). It didn't sound like any sort of a cat or dog, but like a bears roar (not a scream like a mountain lion, but a real 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
Looking back at the San Rafael Reef
The trailhead into the canyon
Dinosaur print on the way down
The clouds were amazing
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
The Alcove Gallery
Looking away from the Alcove Gallery.
The Great Gallery
So much art. Could not believe how large this was
Tyler by the Great Gallery's "Great Ghost"
Alene by the Great Gallery's "Great Ghost"
Tyler & Alene at the Great Gallery panel
Leaving the canyon
The Road out...
The Alcove (with echo)
The Great Gallery (with echo)
Here is a link to the full set of pictures from our trip: Horseshoe Canyon Feb. 2008