San Carlos Apache Reservation, Arizona – March 2023 – Wildflower Oasis

Peridot Mesa is part of a volcanic field in the San Carlos Apache Tribe Reservation. While it is noted for it’s unique geology as a result of the volcanic activity, each spring it becomes a wildflower oasis.

The weather community seems to have found new terms for old occurrences and then over use them, one being ‘superbloom’. I am not sure if this qualifies as a superbloom, but it was fantastic.

When you look closely you can see the poppies mixed in next to the volcanic rocks.

As you make your way up to the top of the mesa, there are spectacular views for 360 degrees.

Once you crest the top you get a view to the east showing the transition from poppies to desert chicory.

It should be noted that the entire mesa is on Apache land so you must pay a $10 per person permit fee before entering. Once you do you are welcome to roam throughout though.

Well worth the $10.

The roads, while dirt, are passable by cars.

It is also open range grazing for the animals.

Peridot Mesa is an amazing place to see wildflowers. It’s remoteness means it is far less crowded than Picacho Peak, and the others.

Nature’s reward for a cool, rainy winter in the desert.

Kane County, Utah – September 2022 – Kodachrome Basin State Park

The colorful sandstone geology of Kodachrome Basin State Park lead to it’s name – The National Geographic Society named it such, and despite potential legal risk from Kodak films the name was adopted.

The monolithic spires rise up throughout the park. The sandstone seems so fragile that just brushing up against it seems to take off a layer.

I am unsure of the name of this rock.

We took the Grand Parade hike, which leads past most of the highlights and into a couple of the box canyons.

The vegetation that is in the area was in bloom from the recent monsoon rains.

Our visit complete, we headed off towards our next stop – Bryce National Park – but not before enjoying more of the scenery of the area around Kodachrome Basin.

Kane County, Utah – September 2022 – Willis Creek Slot Canyon

Southern Utah has numerous very famous natural attractions such as Bryce National Park. In addition to those you can find some amazing places that aren’t as crowded.

One of those is Willis Creek Slot Canyon. One potential reason is the road to the trailhead is a fantastically bumpy, at times steep, dirt road. We travelled 5-6 miles down this road, and found the parking lot empty at 8 AM, although next door was a group of about 10 horses and riders who had just finished their adventure.

After chatting with their leader and getting guidance on the hike, we set off.

We quickly dropped down into the canyon and it’s eponymously named creek. Fortunately despite some recent rains Willis Creek was quite small on this day so we were able to hop back and forth across it.

It didn’t take long for the canyon walls to narrow and rise to a height of about 10-20′.

The young lady who had lead the horse riding group had advised us that we would go through 4 separate slot canyons on our hike. This first one remain with walls up to about 20′ high.

As we continued downstream we would pop in and out of slot canyons.

Eventually the creek ran dry and the hiking became easier. Most slot canyons require some level of scrambling over boulders, but not here – just a casual hike down the canyon.

Eventually the walls rose to a height of up to 100′.

After about a mile and a half we ran out of slot canyons and made the decision to turn back there. The return trip was just as interesting as the morning sun changed the look seemingly every minute.

On our return trip we passed about 6 other groups of hikers, reaffirming my belief that if you want solitude in nature get going at the crack of dawn.

Willis Slot Canyon is a great hike for anyone, with a fun drive to get there.

Southern Utah – September 2022 – Burr Trail

John Atlantic Burr was born on a ship as his family was making their way to the United States in the late 1800s. Later in life he was a cattleman in Southern Utah.

His land included space along an amazing geological feature known as the Waterpocket Fold, a rise of nearly 1000′ feet above the valley below.

Today the Burr Trail goes from Bullfrog on Lake Powell to Boulder, Utah. The road is paved for the first 20 miles or so.

As we turned onto this road a park ranger stopped us and warned us that a few miles ahead the road goes through Bullfrog Creek, and that some people had been stuck there for 3 hours, before finally getting through.

Fortunately our choice of transportation is an all wheel drive Ford Edge – and the ranger said, in true guy fashion ‘you might be ok – just stay right, then left, then back to the right – and don’t stop’. Having driven in snow for decades I knew exactly what he meant. And it worked.

We went right through!

For next 30 miles or so we enjoyed the trip, first paved and eventually gravel road. The scenery was once again amazing. After about 15 miles you enter Capital Reef National Park.

At one point John cut a path for his cattle down the Fold so they could get down to the valley to graze. He did this with a series of switchbacks that now serve as the highlight of this drive.

While not quite as high a climb as Moki Dugway, it is far more intense as the road is barely 2 lanes, and the climb is steeper. Very cool!

This photo is not tilted, the land is!

The view at the top is great, looking back at what you just drove.

The remainder of Burr Trail takes you through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, highlighted in the next posting.