Just a few minutes north of the famous Forest Gump Point and sacred Navajo lands that make up Monument Valley is a lesser-known area that is as majestic and beautiful as the crowded neighbor to the south. Valley of the Gods is a network of intricate and superb rock features that line San Juan County Road 242 below Cedar Mesa.
The newest episode of our Travel VLOG series is live on our YouTube Channel!
In this episode, we travel to Moab, Utah and explore Canyonlands and Arches National Park as well as area mountain biking and hiking. Thank you to everyone that subscribes and follows our adventures, it means a lot to us. Enjoy!
Utah is beautiful, mystifying, and captivating. These are our top-5 stops in Southern Utah. These might not be the most popular, but they are unique, creative, and rewarding experiences for the traveler that is looking to beat the crowds and still see amazing things.
Explore the Irish Slot Canyons
Utah is synonymous with canyoneering. Spend some time exploring the labyrinth of slot canyons along the highway near Hanksville, UT( Mile Marker 80.5 ish). You will be rewarded with amazing views, challenging climbs, and amazing solitude.
Backpack in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
Explorers that venture down Hole-in-the-Rock Road near Escalante, UT will be rewarded with nearly endless trails and awesome scenery. The overnighter that we chose followed Harris Wash to the Escalante River and back. We had the trail mostly to ourselves and got to hike in some of the most remote and scenic areas of the Monument.
Rachael and I are not very touristy people. We like to camp in the National Forest with few neighbors and even fewer utilities; this article is being written in a National Forest coincidently enough. We bike or drive into the National Parks before day-break so we can skip the crowds and still see the cool stuff. Although we are devoting almost all of our time to traveling the country and seeing a lot of attractions, I still wouldn’t classify us as “touristy”.
A week or so ago, we were backpacking in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and the hundreds of water crossings did a number on Rachael’s feet. She has blisters and bruising from her water shoes and we have Grand Canyon backpacking permits in a few weeks, so that meant we were taking it easy in Bryce Canyon (not an easy task for either of us).
With all of that being said, we did something very touristy in Bryce Canyon National Park, we took a bus-tour! And it paid off big-time!
We showed up in the park mid-morning on a weekday and signed up for the Rainbow Point Bus Tour. The tour is ran by the National Park Service and is completely FREE. They have numerous pick-ups at the area hotels and at Ruby’s Inn. The tour is 3-ish hours long and is the best thing that we did while in the Bryce Canyon area, see below for the worst thing we did in Bryce.
The worst thing that we did in Bryce was buying groceries at Ruby’s Inn. This tourist-trap gas station, mediocre restaurant and understocked grocery store are the reason that people visit the national park, then travel on to another area. My father has worked in retail my entire life and he has raised me to appreciate a good grocery store. This was not it. Expect to pay astronomical prices for the simplest of groceries…$1.50 for a (1) apple, $4.99 for an 8-slice pack of bologna, $9.00 for a (1) can of Coleman propane, insanity. We got the bare minimum that could get us by and got out! Stock up before you go to Bryce and don’t continue to make these people rich.
Back to the tour, more importantly the tour guide. April, with Canyon Fever Guides, provided us with one of the best tourist experiences that either of us have ever had. She was born nearby and has lived in the Bryce area for 35 years. All of that experience and family knowledge is passed on to you when you take her tour.
The tour winds through the various stopping points along the dead-end road that meanders through the park, with April giving excellent descriptions of the topography, the flora and fauna, and the rich history of the area surrounding the park. She even threw in some corny “dad” jokes throughout that Rachael really enjoyed. Once the tour was over, we couldn’t believe that it was FREE and available for anyone to sign up for. We highly encourage that you check out her guide service for your time in Bryce or at the very least, sign up for the Rainbow Point bus tour and ask for April!
We learned an important lesson through this tour and that is to not be a travel snob. When you live in your vehicle and you see beautiful things every day, it is easy to get caught up in judging the people that are simply trying to enjoy their 2-week vacation. As my wife likes to remind me, “at least they are outside”. There is truth to that, everyone deserves to enjoy the outdoors, regardless of how they choose to enjoy it. Bus tours are touristy but sometimes theres a reason that everyone is taking them.
Below are the contact details for April and Canyon Fever Guides. We hope you enjoy your time with her as much as we did!
Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that we have begun our year of full-time living on the road and exploring this great country.We are going to document our travels and adventures with you through a new series on our YouTube channel. We have made it to Utah and we want to share the first leg of the journey with you. Check it out!
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I try to remain politically neutral on the internet, but I can’t stay in Geneva anymore. What happened on December 4th is disgusting. Here’s some history to show you what I mean:
1908: President, War Hero, and Environmentalist Theodore Roosevelt Jr. signed into law the Antiquities Act. This act gave the president of the United States the power to designate areas as National Monuments that ultimately led to the creation of Devil’s Tower and Grand Canyon National Monument.
1908-Present: The Antiquities Act has been used 157 times to protect ares such as Giant Sequoia Trees in California and has only been used twice to reduce the size of monuments in a time when challengers for the environment weren’t prepared to fight for public lands.
December 6, 2016: President Candidate Donald Trump delivered a speech in Fayetteville, NC where he said this:
December 4, 2017: President Donald Trump delivered a speech in Utah reducing the size of Obama-era Grand Staircase Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments by almost 2,000,000 acres.
This announcement comes almost exactly one year after the speech above declaring to follow in the steps of Teddy Roosevelt as a protector of the outdoors. Ironically enough, through this announcement, President Trump has spit in the face of the environmental legacy of Roosevelt’s that Trump promised his voters that he would follow in the footsteps of. Roosevelt created the Antiquities Act. Trump is reversing the use of the Antiquities Act.
Environmentalist companies and organizations such as Patagonia, The Wilderness Society, and the Sierra Club have filed suit against the United States. Native American tribes such as the Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni that have lived in the area for thousands of years have also joined in the fight to stop the President.
Spread the Word! Raising awareness on social media is the easiest and most effective means to fight this injustice.
Donate! Friends of Cedar Mesa are raising funds for a Bears Ears Eduction Center HERE.
We hope to see Bears Ears and Grand Staircase on the road in 2018. I am in hopes that the wheels of bureaucracy will turn slowly and we will still have access to the original National Monuments in the Spring. Maybe the good guys will win and the President’s order will be reversed, only time will tell.
In the meantime, take a look at what the Trump administration would rather sell off to the states and private extraction interests instead of keeping it in the hands of Americans.