Utah: Natural Bridges NM, Capital Reef NP, Grand Staircase-Escalante NM, Bryce Canyon

On Friday, I decided that I had enough with Moab and moved on. Over the course of the weekend, I ended up visiting National Bridges National Monument, the proposed Bears Ears National Monument, Glenn Canyon National Recreation Area, Capital Reef National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and Bryce Canyon National Park. I finally found a campsite at Cabin Hollow to spend the cold week ahead.

Natural Bridges NM

After finishing up some work at my campsite in Moab Friday afternoon, I hit the road, still mostly unsure of just where I was going to end up for the night. I quickly decided to visit Natural Bridges National Monument, which I had not previously seen. As much as I enjoyed the beautiful drive through the area, I was surprised at what I found at the monument, with the canyons and bridges capturing my awe and imagination. I only did a few very small, easier hikes, but it has quickly become a place to return and do a much larger hike some day in the future!

Bears Ears area, Glenn Canyon NRA

Although Natural Bridges really did capture me, I decided to keep moving on before settling down for the night on Friday. I ended up driving through quite a bit more of the proposed Bears Ears National Monument, which I found absolutely mesmerizing: I came to really hope that the entire area is, in fact, declared a national monument at some recent point. Alas, the road continued, and I found myself driving into the Glenn Canyon National Recreation Area.

I was immensely surprised at Glenn Canyon, even though I did only drive through a small area of it. The sun ended up setting as I drove through, and I got some absolutely wonderful sunset views before it became dark and I hit the road once more.

Capital Reef National Park

Once I left Glenn Canyon, the sun had set and I began driving for a while in the dark. Unfortunately, I only had a few potential camping spots along the road marked out, so I picked one just outside of Capital Reef National Park and made my way there. I couldn’t make out anything interesting about my camp at night, but come morning, I found it to be a truly beautiful, free campsite! Others were there the night as well, but it was easy enough for me to settle down and sleep well through the night.

Come the morning, I decided to drive the scenic drive through the national park. Stopping at viewpoints and driving down a few of the dirt roads, into the canyons, I fell in love with the park more than I had really ever anticipated. I even did a hike down into one canyon, exploring my way into the narrows of the canyon before continuing on the adventure. All of this easily took up my morning, but I decided to save even more exploration of the absolutely beautiful park for another day.

Utah 12 and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Leaving Capital Reef NP, I found my way onto Utah 12, passing over the mountains of Fishlake National Forest, stopping at some amazing viewpoints before dropping into Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. All of this was surprisingly beautiful!

I had been just outside of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in the past, but I was surprised at the diversity of beauty visible from just Utah 12, itself. I stopped in the bottom of one canyon to walk a bit, but decided to continue on driving the absolutely beautiful way through the monument.

I did finally end up back at Cabin Hollow, which was one of the first camps I ever stayed at as I began this grand adventure of living out of Tivona. I arrived to the campsite totally empty, and I was able to easily get a wonderful site for the night and upcoming week.

Bryce Canyon National Park : Fairyland Loop Hike

Waking up in Cabin Hollow Sunday morning, I looked out the window to see overcast and a chance of rain for the day. I had been debating between heading back into Grand Staircase-Escalante for a slot canyon hike, or simply doing the Fairyland Loop in Bryce Canyon. With the poor weather outlook, I opted for Bryce Canyon.

Fairyland Loop is an 8 mile hike. I began at the Fairyland Canyon Overlook on the outskirts of the park, hiking clockwise around the loop. Unfortunately, my camera died less than halfway through, so I ended up relying on my phone to take most of the pictures at this point. Nonetheless, it was a challenging, but absolutely beautiful hike that I would totally recommend to anyone, despite its supposedly strenuous status!

The Tower Bridge was about the exact mid-point on the route that I took, and the main view of the small bridge surrounded by hoodoos was at about the lowest point of the whole hike. Nonetheless, I was actually able to increase my pace after this, especially once I hit the much easier terrain of the rim trail for the last few miles back to the car.

I will state: the hike was particularly easy to me, but I often go on much easier hikes than this. The trail was well defined and signed all throughout, obvious to follow. There was no obstacles to scramble and the elevation change was rather simple, although a lot of ups and downs. It would be strenuous for someone not in shape at all, but it is an easy hike for someone in even the less than ideal condition I consider myself in today. Oh well! Still a wonderful hike!

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