Trip Reports: Two Weeks In The Utah Desert - October/November 2015

In late October/early November we headed out to Utah for a two-week road trip of car camping, hiking, and backpacking in the deserts of southern Utah. We basically drove a big counter-clockwise loop starting from Green River, heading southwards to Capitol Reef, southeast to Dark Canyon kind of near the north end of Lake Powell, to Natural Bridges National Monument, and finally to Cedar Mesa.

Here are my favorite photos from the trip, arranged in roughly chronological order.

Green River,Utah, panorama, photo

Green River Bend

Green River, Utah

A panoramic view above a big circular bend in the Green River. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Three Canyon, Green River,Utah, photo

Three Canyon

Green River, Utah

Looking down into Three Canyon from the rim. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Green River,Utah, rocks, photo

Slickrock Hands

Green River, Utah

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Arch, Utah, Green River, photo

Canyon Windows

Green River, Utah

Looking out over the canyonlands near the Green River from within a unique double arch formation on the canyon rim. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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moon, moonrise, Utah, photo

Moonrise Over Sandstone

Green River, Utah

A full moon rises over the desert. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Arch, Utah, Green River, panorama, photo

Canyon Windows Dawn

Green River, Utah

Looking out over the canyonlands near the Green River from within a unique double arch formation on the canyon rim. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Arch, Utah, Green River, photo

Canyon Windows Sunrise

Green River, Utah

Looking out over the canyonlands near the Green River from within a unique double arch formation on the canyon rim. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Moonshine Wash,Utah, slot, photo

Moonshine Narrows

Green River, Utah

Some colorful sandstone narrows. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Moonshine Wash,Utah, abstract, sandstone, photo

Fractured Sand

Green River, Utah

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Capitol Reef,Utah, Waterpocket Fold, Navajo Knobs, photo

Light on the Waterpocket Fold

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

The Waterpocket Fold as seen from Navajo Knobs - October. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Dark Canyon,Utah, hiker, hiking, photo

Dark Canyon Hiker

Dark Canyon, Utah

About to hike down into Dark Canyon. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

Dark Canyon,Utah, dusk, reflection, photo

Dark Canyon Reflection

Dark Canyon, Utah

Dusk light reflected in a creekside pond in Dark Canyon. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Dark Canyon,Utah, photo

Dark Canyon Creek

Dark Canyon, Utah

Deep in Dark Canyon. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Natural Bridges National Monument, Sipapu Bridge, Utah, White Canyon, photo

Sipapu Bridge

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

Sipapu Bridge spans the White Canyon. With a height of 220 feet and length of 225 feet, Sipapu Bridge is the second longest natural bridge in the world (after Rainbow Bridge) and the seventh longest arch if you consider it an arch. A natural bridge is formed by erosion from a creek or river that eventually runs underneath it, while arches are formed by erosion from seepage, sand, and/or wind.

*Full disclosure: Utilizing my official artistic license, I have taken the liberty of photoshopping out some metal handrails that exist to help people walk down the steep slickrock here.. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Natural Bridges National Monument, Sipapu Bridge, Utah, White Canyon, photo

Sipapu Over Cottonwood

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

Sipapu Bridge soars directly overhead, high above a cottonwood tree with autumn colors. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Natural Bridges National Monument, Sipapu Bridge, Utah, White Canyon, photo

Sipapu Bridge Autumn

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

Sipapu Bridge soars over some autumn colored cottonwood trees in White Canyon. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Horsecollar Ruin, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah, kiva, ruin, White Canyon, Ancestral Puebloan, photo

Horsecollar Kiva

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

A look inside an Ancestral Puebloan kiva with a still-intact roof after approximately 1000-700 years.

* Please note that I did NOT enter this kiva, which would be a foolish thing to do and could possibly damage the ancient structure.  I carefully pointed my camera through a gap below the roof, and my ultra-wide lens makes it look like a view from inside.. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Kachina Bridge, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah, White Canyon, photo

Kachina Bridge Reflection

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

A reflection under Kachina Bridge. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah, ruin, White Canyon, Ancestral Puebloan, photo

Kachina Ruin

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

An Ancestral Puebloan ruin in White Canyon. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah, ruin, White Canyon, Ancestral Puebloan, photo

White Canyon Ruin 1

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

An Ancestral Puebloan ruin in White Canyon. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah, ruin, White Canyon, Ancestral Puebloan, photo

White Canyon Ruin 2

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

Ancient Puebloan ruins are often found on high and/or difficult to access ledges above the canyon floors, likely for defensive purposes. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah, pictographs, White Canyon, Ancestral Puebloan, photo

Ancient Hands

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

Reverse handprint pictographs on the wall of White Canyon; these were created approximately 1000-700 years ago. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah, kiva, ruin, White Canyon, Ancestral Puebloan, photo

White Canyon Kiva

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

An Ancestral Puebloan kiva in White Canyon. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Goosenecks State Park, Utah, panorama, photo

Stormy Goosenecks

Goosenecks State Park, Utah

A nasty storm approaches the Goosenecks of the San Juan River, as seen from Goosenecks State Park overlook on the southern end of Cedar Mesa in southeastern Utah.  Moments later the rain started falling for the rest of the evening.

The San Juan River, which originates from the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado, slowly flows through the 1000 foot deep canyon walls, forming one of the world’s best examples of entrenched river meanders. This is one river in the photo – it flows from left to right via three immense meandering curves. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Honaker Trail,Utah, photo

Honaker Point

San Juan River, Utah

A precipitous outcropping along the Honaker Trail. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

Honaker Trail, Utah, San Juan River, photo

San Juan River Bends

San Juan River, Utah

The San Juan River as seen from the Honaker Trail. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Honaker Trail, Utah, San Juan River, photo

San Juan River Rocks

San Juan River, Utah

The San Juan River as seen from the Honaker Trail. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Utah, Cedar Mesa, potholes, photo

Slickrock Skies

Cedar Mesa, Utah

Potholes filled with rainwater reflect clouds above Cedar Mesa. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

Cedar Mesa, John Canyon, Utah, ruins, Ancestral Puebloan, photo

Door Ruin 2

Cedar Mesa, Utah

A seldom-visited ruin in a Cedar Mesa canyon, with intact door. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

Cedar Mesa, Road Canyon, Utah, ruins, Ancestral Puebloan, photo

Seven Kiva Interior

Cedar Mesa, Utah

Kiva interior. *Note that I did not enter this ruin; I shot this photo through a window. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

Cedar Mesa, Utah, ruins, Ancestral Puebloan, photo

Hotel of the Ancients

Cedar Mesa, Utah

Dawn at some high perched ruins. *Please note that I did not enter or disturb these well-preserved ruins; the internal lighting effect was from a flashlight that I carefully placed on the window sills. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Cedar Mesa, Citadel, Utah, ruins, Ancestral Puebloan, photo

Sunrise House

Cedar Mesa, Utah

Sunrise light illuminates a ruin perched on a high ledge. I don't think I've ever seen a ruin with such an expansive view! Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Cedar Mesa, Mule Canyon, Utah, ruins, Ancestral Puebloan, photo

House on Fire

Cedar Mesa, Utah

The famous "House of Fire" ruin in Road Canyon. The bridge orange color is from an intense "bounce light" reflecting from the sun-bathed surrounding sandstone. Photo © copyright by Jack Brauer.

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Cedar Mesa, Mule Canyon, Utah, ruins, Ancestral Puebloan, photo

Rock In Ice

Cedar Mesa, Utah

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To see more photos from each individual segment of our trip, please see the November 2015 archive on my blog.