April 10-11, 2004

This weekend I did a solo 48-mile hike/run through Canyonlands National Park (Needles District).   I had never been there before and it was spectacular.  Attached is a map of my wanders.  I think I received my money’s worth from the $10 entrance fee and $15 backcountry pass.

On Friday, I hit the trail at 2 p.m. and made my way to Druid Arch – a large double arch.   There were plenty of day-hikers on the trail.  The weather was fantastic. I then made my way to the Joint Trail, a highlight of the hike.  This is a long, straight fissure between huge blocks, kind of like a shoulder-wide slot canyon. Very cool.  I took a wrong turn coming out of the joint trail, and decided to hike up a trail on the topo map (but not on the park map) leading me toward a spectacular place called Virginia Park. Virginia Park was closed for scientific research. I camped for the night in a beautiful canyon below the park after trekking 15.4 miles for the day.

On Saturday, I arose early and hit the trail at 4:30 a.m.  It was very peaceful running down a washes by the light of the moon. My goal that morning was to reach the Colorado River.  I arrived around 9 a.m.  The lush green near the river was a stark contrast to the desolate landscape I passed through on my way down.  Across the river I could see a group of canoers camped, rising for the day.  After soaking tired feet in the cold river, and eating breakfast, I was on my way again, first climbing 1,000 feet out of the river canyon.

I ran into my first humans for the day at the Confluence Overlook (where the Green River meets the Colorado River). They were mountain bikers. Passing through Devils Kitchen was cool. There is a camp for jeeps, using caves and overhangs in the wild formations of red rocks. The rest of the hike was spent going up and down through the wild canyons and hiking on
tops of slickrock ridges.  Day-hikers greeted me, thinking I was coming back from casual stroll.  I finished the hike at 6 p.m. and later discovered that I traveled 32.6 miles during the day, a record for me in one day.

Canyonlands is a great area to visit.  Plenty of great hikes for the family.  Jeeps, mountain bikes, and hikers are plenty.  Spring and Fall are the times to visit.