Photo Journal & Trip Reports (Canyons & deserts)

Photo journals and trip reports from some of my outdoor photography adventures, starting with the most recent. You can subscribe to follow my latest blog posts (and any other blogs as well) by using a feed reader such as Inoreader or Feedly.

Desert Freeze Fest
November 2022  |  Southeast Utah

Despite a 20º weather forecast I drove out towards Moab to do an exploratory backpack trip up an obscure canyon all the way to a high rim overlooking the Fisher Towers, camping two nights along the way. Between the frigid temperature, fresh snow, rugged terrain, and torturous bushwhacking, the trek ended up being one of the more physically and mentally challenging backpack trips I've done.

A Week at Capitol Reef
October 2022  |  Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Having had my fill of autumn colors in Colorado by mid-October this year, we headed out to the desert for a week of car camping, hiking and exploring in Capitol Reef National Park in southern Utah (with one little backpack trip to cap it off at the end)...

Sandstone & Ponderosas
May 2022  |  Bears Ears National Monument, Utah

In mid-May we drove west to Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah for a quick 3-day backpack trip into a unique canyon full of giant ponderosa pines amongst giant sandstone spires. A spring-fed creek provided a pleasant base camp location to relax and spend a day exploring some fascinating and seldom-visited ancient cliff dwellings...

More Mojave
October/November 2021  |  Mojave Desert, California & Arizona

In late October and early November, my wife and I hit the road for two weeks of warmth, camping, and hiking in the Mojave Desert of western Arizona and southeast California. During this trip we returned to the Black Mountains, camped at Kelso and Cadiz Dunes, spent a few days exploring The Needles along the Colorado River, and returned to the Turtle Mountains...

Southern Utah Getaway
April 2021  |  Southern Utah

Usually in the wintertime my driving force is to ride my snowboard/splitboard as much as possible whenever I'm not riding my office chair. But every year by about March or April cabin fever sets in and my powder lust wanes as I start to dream about warm weather and dry ground backpacking...

Canyons Close to Home
April 2020  |  Southwest Colorado

Yearning for some closer-to-home adventure this spring, we ventured out for a few quick overnight backpack trips to explore some canyon and desert areas along the Dolores and Gunnison Rivers, both major river drainages of the San Juan Mountains where we live in southwest Colorado...

2 Weeks in Grand Staircase Escalante
September 2019  |  Escalante, Utah

In the second half of September Claudia, her father Gundolf, and I spent two weeks in one of our favorite canyon areas of southern Utah - Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument*...

Rainy Day Hike in the Needles District
May 2019  |  Canyonlands National Park, Utah

In mid May we met up with family from Germany in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in Utah for a couple days of camping and hiking. Our timing wasn't great, as it rained more than I've ever seen in the desert! But we did get one somewhat dry-enough day for my brother-in-law and I to do the ultra-classic hike to Chesler Park and Druid Arch...

Explorations in the Mojave Desert
March 2019  |  Nevada, California, Arizona

As is usual in late winter, Claudia and I have been itching for some desert hiking and backpacking time, so this March we spent three weeks camping and backpacking in various mountain ranges and wilderness areas in the Mojave Desert in Nevada, California, and Arizona...

Roaming Around Southeast Utah
October/November 2018  |  Utah

In late October and early November we spent a dozen days camping and backpacking around in the deserts and canyonlands of southern Utah, including the San Rafael Swell, Robbers Roost/Dirty Devil area, and Cedar Mesa...

Candyland, Arizona
April 2018  |  Arizona

After our trek through nearby Buckskin Gulch and Paria Canyon, we made the long, sandy drive to Coyote Buttes South (also within the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness) which we had permits to explore for a couple days...

Buckskin Gulch/Paria River Backpack
April 2018  |  Utah/Arizona

With 15 miles of continuous narrows, Buckskin Gulch in southern Utah is renowned as the longest slot canyon in the world. Buckskin flows into the even longer Paria Canyon and hiking through both these canyons forms a famous backpacking trip requiring permits reserved months in advance...

Narrowing Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah
April 2018

In mid April we hit the road again for more desert time, and spent a week camping and hiking through various narrows and slot canyons in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in central southern Utah...

Saguaro National Park
March 2018  |  Arizona

Our final destination for our desert road trip in late March was Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona. We spent two nights at the campground near there and enjoyed visiting the "forests" of saguaro cacti (pronounced like "sa-waro"), as well as a bit of touring through the city of Tucson...

Backpacking in the Superstition Mountains
March 2018  |  Arizona

After our time in the Kofa Mountains in March, we drove east through Phoenix and immediately embarked on a two-night backpack trip through part of the Superstition Mountains. We hiked a clockwise loop from the Peralta Trailhead around the prominent Weavers Needle spire via the Peralta and Dutchman's Trails...

Kofa Mountains
March 2018  |  Arizona

In the remote Sonoran desert of southwest Arizona rises a rugged volcanic mountain range called the Kofa Mountains. The mountains are named after the King of Arizona mine located in the center of range, from which millions of dollars worth of gold and silver were extracted in the early 1900s...

Colors of Southern Nevada
March 2018  |  Nevada

While the vast majority of visitors to southern Nevada only see the bright lights of Las Vegas, there is actually an abundance of wonderful wild desert lands surrounding the city which will please any nature lover...

Backpacking through Salt Creek
November 2017  |  Canyonlands National Park, Utah

In early November a friend and I backpacked about 30 miles through Salt Creek and the Peakaboo Trail in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, Utah. This canyon is renowned for its numerous Ancient Puebloan ruins and pictographs; in fact I've never seen so many ruins outside of the Cedar Mesa area!

Backpacking in Grand Gulch
May 2017  |  Cedar Mesa, Utah

At the end of May we spent three days hiking through the upper portion of Grand Gulch, in Cedar Mesa, Utah. This was the third time I’ve backpacked in Grand Gulch, but the first since the area was designated as part of Bears Ears National Monument by President Obama in 2016...

In, On, and Around the San Rafael Reef
April 2017  |  Utah

The San Rafael Reef is the jagged uplifted eastern edge of the greater San Rafael Swell, a giant dome-shaped anticline rising to the west of the Green River in central Utah. People who have driven Interstate 70 west of Green River will likely remember the incredible highway route that cuts right through the vertical red walls of the San Rafael Reef...

Enchanted in New Mexico
December 2016  |  New Mexico

Over the holidays my wife Claudia and I drove down to New Mexico for some desert time and to escape winter for a while. We spent a few days in Santa Fe, camped in the White Sand dunes, hiked in the Organ Mountains, explored the City of Rocks, and I even got to skate the famous ditches of Albuquerque!

Two Weeks in the Utah Desert
October/November 2015  |  Utah

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...

Tapeats/Deer Creek Loop, Grand Canyon
April 2015  |  Grand Canyon, Arizona

Last week we repeated a backpacking trip down into the Grand Canyon which we had done several years ago — a “lollipop” loop from the north rim down to Thunder River and Tapeats Creek, along the Colorado River, and up Deer Creek...

Death Hollow Canyon
April 2014  |  Escalante, Utah

The morning after returning from our previous Escalante backpack, we embarked on another even more adventurous trek – this time into the slickrock country just east of the town of Escalante, Utah...

Two Weeks in the Canyons of Utah
April 2014  |  Utah

Photos from two weeks of travel and hiking in the deserts and canyons of southern Utah, including the San Rafael Swell, Capitol Reef, Escalante, and Bryce Canyon.

Backpacking in the Needles District
March 2014  |  Canyonlands National Park, Utah

As winter drags on, there are times when no matter how good the snow is, all I can think about is getting out to the desert for some warm weather backpacking. Such was the case last week when Claudia and I drove over to Utah for four days of backpacking in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park south of Moab...

8 Dayhikes in the Canyons of Utah - Escalante & Capitol Reef
April 2013  |  Utah

In mid-April we spent about 10 days car camping and doing some fantastic day hikes in the canyons of Utah - Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Capitol Reef National Park in particular...

3 Week Desert Road Trip
October/November 2012  |  CA, AZ, UT, CO

In late October and early November, we spent 3 weeks on a road trip through the deserts and canyons between California and Colorado. Highlights included camping in Death Valley in California, a backpack trek into the Grand Canyon, hiking through a slot canyon in Page Arizona, visiting the cliff dwelling of Mesa Verde in Colorado, and more!

Backpacking into the Grand Canyon
November 2012  |  Grand Canyon, Arizona

At the beginning of November, Claudia and I were excited to go on a backpacking trip into the Grand Canyon, which neither of us has seen before. It was a great introduction to walk down all the way down into the heart of it, and WOW, we were impressed! Our loop route took us down from Monument Point on the North Rim, down the Bill Hall Trail, over the Esplanade, across Surprise Valley, down into Tapeats Creek, along the Colorado River, up the Deer Creek Trail, then back up to the top again...

Coyote Gulch
April 2012  |  Escalante, Utah

In early April, we headed to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in southern Utah for another backpacking trip into one of my favorite canyons of all – Coyote Gulch. It’s been about 12 years or so since I’ve been here, but I still remembered how awesome it was...