Southern Utah Traverse October 2017

#1
So I’ve recently found the time to go through my photos from my trip on the Southern Utah Traverse Trail. This was a solo person/ solo truck trip. The dates were October 17 thru October 29 2017.


The trail in-itself (any-which way you want to travel it) is close to a thousand miles of dirt and my full mileage was 1,980 miles from and ending back in N/ Central Arizona. $400 dollars of gas was spent on the entire trip. I averaged 14mpg on the dirt portions. Which is .5 mpg over my street average! I was pretty happy about that, because I budgeted $1,000 for the trip and only spent a little over half that…

Most of my trip, the roads were well maintained. Besides for Beef Basin, Sunset Pass/ Hatch Canyon, Hole in the Rock Rd and up-and-over the Henry Mountains the particular route I took was 2wd HC capable. But rains can change the terrain of the desert quick. The off-road route (until nearing Kanab) was extremely desolate. In NF and the NR areas, this time of year were heavy with hunters; so be aware of that when hiking.

All the National Parks were packed! The further from asphalt I got the less people (and trash) I generally found. But almost everyday I’d see at least one suburbanite slob on a dirt road in their rented RV or cargo-carrier equipped suv; driving three miles an hour, avoiding every nickel-sized rock (all-the-while driving) in the (middle of the) road.

For anyone wanting to do this trip, it can be done in five days if you’re early to rise and enjoy driving well into the night. Early October would probably be the best “after-summer” time to go. Monsoonal weather/extreme heat are usually over by then.. Mid to late October was nice, but no shortage of skin-stinging wind on some evenings. I monitored NOAA weather radio everyday and the weather report would shift from a positive three-day outlook to an outlook the next day of 50-70mph winds within an hour of the previous report. But all-in-all the highs averaged 75-83℉ in the day to 38-51℉ at night. Higher elevations dropped those temps 20℉-30℉ and similar lower temps when there was cloud cover or when the wind kicked up. I used my Little Buddy Propane heater almost every night. At 10,000’ in the Henry Mountains I had to don a balaclava, gloves and winter jacket to set up camp. And a few nights I had to wrap up in my 20℉, 40℉ and two 15℉ mummy bags all while sporting my long johns and a cap to get through the night. Most of the days I was shirtless in shorts in my flipflops.

The trip started in Cortez, CO and I got as far as Hurricane, UT before I scraped the rest of the way to the Nevada boarder and headed back into N. Arizona for more backcountry then up to the Kaibab Plateau and then onto the North Rim…

I didn’t pre-plan the trip. I planned to drive to Cortez from home, camp that night, and figure where to go the next day. Every night after setting up camp, I cracked open an adult beverage and consulted my trusty Benchmark Utah Road Atlas and decided the destination for the morning. Not pre-planning my route only screwed me a few times. Most notable; I tried to take Kane Springs Rd (Near Moab) from the 163, west to Lockhart Basin to camp for the night over the Colorado River in Canyonlands NP. Then intersect with Indian Creek Scenic Byway later the next day. But my truck wasn’t nearly competent enough to make it.
But other than that, every route choice I made was perfect and I had a great time, no regrets.


Pure isolation. From gorgeous sunsets, to massive vistas, unbelievable red-rock formations, native american ruins and long forgotten pioneer homesteads un-touched and un-trampled by civilization. Southern Utah is extremely unique and special and I hope it stays exactly the way it is.


Public lands traveled & visited were Canyons of the Ancients Nation Monument-CO, Hovenweep NM-UT, Canyon Rims Rec Area-UT, Bears Ears NM (Indian Creek Scenic Byway/ Beef Basin)-UT, , Manti-La Sal NF-UT, Glen Canyon NRA-UT, Pink Cliffs/ Hatch Canyon-UT, Poison Springs Canyon-UT, Henry Mountains-UT, Capitol Reef NP-UT, Grand Staircase Escalante NM (Burr Trail Scenic Backway/ Smokey Mtn Road/ Cottonwood Canyon Rd/ Skutumpah-Johnson Canyon Rd)-UT, Dixie NF-UT, Hole-in-the-Rock Rd/ GSENM/GCNRA-UT, Bryce Canyon NP, Coral Pink Sand Dunes SP-UT, Vermillion Cliffs NM-UT/AZ, Zion NP-UT, Kaibab NF-AZ and the North Rim of Grand Canyon NP.

I thought about doing a trip report. But honestly, I’m not creative enough to make it sound interesting. It really was an ordinary A-to-B trip. Nothing went wrong. I didn’t run into someone else that had their **** go wrong. On top of that social media is just ruining the backcountry and outdoor sites in general, furthering me to not be too detailed.

So I’m not going to list specific spots of where the exact pictures have been taken. I’ll try to include a bit of info in some of the pictures.

Enjoy the picture dump.


Hovenweep

IMG_001 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr

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Kane Springs Rd connecting with Lockhart Basin

IMG_018 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr

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Indian Creek Scenic Byway

IMG_023 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr

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#3
IMG_051 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr

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Arch Canyon Overlook

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Camping spot over Dark Canyon

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Coming down into the Colorado River Valley

IMG_062 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr

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Looking east across the Colorado River into Glen Canyon NRA

IMG_065 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr

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#4
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Camping spot over Cataract Canyon of the Colorado River Gorge

IMG_081 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr

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Heading up over Sunset Pass

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Down into Hatch Canyon

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Water ford of the Dirty Devil River

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#5
Into Poison Springs Canyon

IMG_101 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr

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Looking east to the Henry Mountains and the camping spot for that night

IMG_104 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr

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Cold morning in the Henry's, just shy of 10K feet

IMG_109 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr

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Looking west back into Hatch Canyon/Poison Springs

IMG_112 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr


Capitol Reef below in the forefront, Dixie NF and Grand Staircase behind it

IMG_115 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr

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Looking east to the Henry Mountain from Sage Flat

IMG_118 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr

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Large Cattle Ranch under the Sandy Creek Benches

IMG_124 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr

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#6
Water Pocket Fold in the distance

IMG_126 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr

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Burr Trail Switchbacks

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Beautiful drive through the Burr Trail Scenic Backway

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#7
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Desolate route on Smoky Mountain Rd

IMG_156 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr

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Looking into Lake Powell from the Kelly Grade

IMG_158 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr

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Paria River

IMG_169 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr

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Looking N/W to the Pink Cliffs of Bryce Canyon NP

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Bryce Canyon NP

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#9
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Camping spot below the Pink Cliffs

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Stopped in Zion NP. Place was a zoo, only took a few pics before I had to find camp for the night

IMG_203 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr

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Found a great spot to camp including an epic sunset

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Vermilion Cliffs

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Mable Canyon View from Tator Ridge

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And the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. View from Bright Angel Point. In all her spender and glory. Guess I'll have to come back.. :/

IMG_221 by Buttermilk Biscuit, on Flickr
 
#13
Your photos capture the spectacularness of these places. Question:Roughly how much of your average day's time was spent driving? Trying to get a feel for how much time is spent in the vehicle each day over the ten days of such a trip.