Such a swell Swell

Armed with advice from some friends and a copy of “Hiking the Southwest’s Canyon Country” by Sandra Hinchman, we set off on a tour of canyons in southern Utah.

From Salt Lake City, we headed south to the Wedge Overlook, which overlooks the Little Grand Canyon and San Rafael River.  This area is in the northern section of the San Rafael Swell, a stunning anticline and home to many fantastic outdoor adventures.  Next, we drove south through and spent the night in Buckhorn Draw, a worthwhile destination on its own.

The next day, we headed towards Goblin Valley State Park and hiked Crack Canyon, which was pleasingly shaded.  There were a few spots that required boulder-hopping.  We camped on one of the many dirt roads along the northern side of the San Rafael Reef, which is so named because of appearance and not because it was an ocean reef.  We moved to within the Goblin Valley State Park boundaries.  The Goblin Valley is bizarre, fantastic, almost alien terrain.  After a day here, we hiked the Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyon loop.  These canyons were pretty, dry, and mostly shaded.  The roughly two mile hike connecting the canyons was an unshaded slog through sand.

Finally, we headed south through Hanksville towards Capitol Reef National Park.  Regrettably, time only permitted a brief hike from the visitor center up Sulfur Creek.  We hiked in the river, which had about 10 inches of water at the deepest.  We climbed the first water fall but turned back due to threat of storm.  To finish off the day, we drove the marked scenic drive, which was nothing short of incredible.  We finished the tour with convenient camping on BLM land just west of the park.

I regret not having enough time to explore more and look forward to returning, preferably with ropes and kayaks.

Park City, UT

Catching some Spring skiing in Park City. There are 3 ski resorts in town — Deer Valley, Park City, and the Canyons.

For lodging, Jordanelle State Park is within 15 minutes drive. The hot showers and laundry are nice perks after a sweaty day on the slopes. For Deer Valley, the Jordanelle Express gondola is a 5 minute drive away. This gondola area has abundant free parking. Furthermore, the solicitous staff will give you a ride to your car, lift your skis onto the gondola, and offer free overnight ski storage. Katherine skied her first double blue run here — Orion.

Park CIty ski resort is right in town. They cater to families with a variety of terrain parks and lots of “adventure zones” for glade skiing. The adventure zones are marked with cute snow monster sculptures like these.  History buffs will also enjoy the old mining buildings.

Photos from Park City ski resort:

The Canyons is the largest of the three area ski resorts. It feels the most like an alpine resort. While Deer Valley and Park City have high desert plants, the Canyons is filled with spruce trees. If you like intermediate cruiser runs, the whole mountain is open to you. The grading system here felt one notch easier than Telluride.

Logistics

Shopping: The Market at Park City is conveniently next door to the State liquor store. This liquor store has a a good selection of local microbrews.

Laundry: Ying’s laundry in Park City, or the laundromat at Jordanelle.

Parking : All the ski resorts offer free parking for daytime through early evening. The large lots have plenty of room for RVs. Park City also has several city lots that offer 4 hours of free parking.