This triplog and accompanying photoset chronicle Day 1 of my Utah Camping Trip in May 2009. I took the trip with my dad. The length of the trip was three action-packed days and two gorgeous nights.
At 5:30 AM, my dad picked me up at my apartment in downtown Flagstaff. Our first destination was the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We drove north through Valle and hit the main gate just before 7:00. We made a quick stop at Mather Point, and then took a quick stroll at the Village and gawked at the mules (and the people climbing up on them). We then headed east to Grandview Point for another quick stop before heading to Desert View for a small breakfast at their snack bar.
We left Grand Canyon National Park around 10:00, making a stop at the Little Colorado River Gorge along the way to Cameron. It's only a two dollar fee, but questionable as to whether or not it is worth it. The LCR Gorge was bone dry, by the way. More interesting was the East Kaibab Monocline on the other side of the road.
We drove straight through Cameron and Tuba City, with our sights on Navajo National Monument as the next stop. Unfortunately, the monument was closed ("temporately" is what the hap-hazard sign said). We tried driving in anyway, but there were two Navajo Nation Police cruisers in the visitor's center parking lot. We did make a stop along the road on the way out, where we walked along a slickrock bench to a magnificent view.
We continued to Kayenta, only stopping to switch drivers. The next destination was an epic one: Monument Valley. We paid ten bucks to get in, took some obligatory pictures of the mittens and then drove the self-guided loop. Lots of tourists, but hey, it is still a magical place! After leaving Monument Valley, we made a brief stop at a viewpoint before heading into Mexican Hat for tasty burgers at the San Juan Inn.
The real Utah start of our adventure had begun! We headed out to the Goosenecks of the San Juan, admiring the mindbending strata of the Raplee Monocline along the way. The Goosenecks were properly admired as well, then we headed out to the Honaker Trail for a peek at the view from its trailhead. Unfortunately, hiking down the Honaker didn't fit into the plans for this trip, but it is on the list.
Leaving Honaker behind, we speedily entered Valley of the Gods. By now the sun was getting low in the western sky, creating some awesome light on the valley. We considered camping here (our original plan), but we were pretty hot and decided to head up to the top of Cedar Mesa instead. We climbed the Moki Dugway, made a brief stop at the top, and then hit dirt roads within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area boundary. My dad knew exactly where to go, and we set a camp with a view of Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods.
We were soon glad that we passed on a Valley of the Gods camp, because as the sun set, a huge dust storm erupted below us! Fortunately the 1,000 foot cliffs of Cedar Mesa prevented the storm from tearing into us too much, although we got a little dusty, and the winds picked up, causing to frantically tie rocks to my tent.
Wind eventually calmed during the night, and temperate was perfect for sleeping!