My friend Gene Dykes asked if I would like to join him and some other folks on a run crossing of Zion National Park. We made plans to cross in 2020 but it was cancelled because of covid. Thankfully this year we were able to have the go ahead.
Paul and I left our home on Tuesday, May 3rd 2022. We offered our home for the week to fire evacuees that lost their home in the Mora area of NM. We stopped in ABQ to fill the van with food supplies and headed to Flagstaff. There we parked and walked around then met up with friends Shari and Paul for dinner at Swaddee Thai. Our friends offered their driveway for the night and we slept well. Billy Goat and I took a morning walk on the forest road before saying our goodbyes.
I love breakfast trucks so when Paul stopped for gas I jumped out to order a breakfast burrito at one in between the Circle K and Cinders Liquors on 89 N leaving Flagstaff.(Definitely recommend) We then drove on a bit and stopped at a favorite spot on Loop Road 545 to make coffee and eat. Continuing on 89 N is a lovely drive. We stopped on the Historic Navajo Bridge for a leg stretch and watched rafters below in the Colorado River.
We drove along the Vermillion Cliffs and stopped for lunch in the National Forest just past the North Rim Road to the Grand Canyon. It is hard to tire of this drive even though we have done it before. Our meet up place was La Verkin, UT at an airbnb. We parked in the driveway and Christine and Brent were already there. After the rest of the gang arrived, (Gene, Candy and Nicole) we had a meeting about the next day plans and headed to bed early.
Zion Crossing: Up before dawn and walk Billy Goat, breakfast, then head to Lee Pass where we start our journey. The sun is already rising so we don’t need a torch for long. Its cool, almost chilly but if we keep running at a slow pace I find it mostly comfortable. La Verkin creek trail winds along Timber creek then hits La Verkin Creek. This was my favorite part of the day, criss crossing the creek with the huge canyon walls on both sides. The sand slows us down and some have wet feet. We meet back up with Paul around mile 14 , Hop Valley, for our only aide station. The rest of the run was stops and starts, ooohs and aaaaahs. Very hard descent back into Zion to get to the Visitors area where Paul was waiting with pizza. 37+ miles and I am totally spent.
Bryce Canyon and Capital Reef: I have never been to Bryce Canyon before and was wowed immediately. After walking Billy on the ridge we hiked/ran a bit of the canyon. Gene had some other plans for the day so we made it quick.
Back on the road we turned right a little after Boulder, UT onto back roads of Capitol Reef. When I say back roads, I mean 4wd roads. Gene showed us some amazing spots though so it was worth the crazy, bumpy ride. After driving through Singing Canyon(Long Canyon) and eating some lunch, we headed to Strike Valley Overlook. We let Billy Goat do the short out and back with us, even though the sign said no dogs. He was so happy to be with the group for a bit. Afterwards we drove a long way back through the park to an airbnb in Teasdale where we parked in the driveway and slept to mooing cows.
Goblin Valley SP and Wild Horse Canyon: Breakfast, pack up and drive back through the heart of Capitol Reef and on to Goblin Valley State Park. Here we just let loose and explored the place. You can have dogs hike with you which made Billy Goat happy. He was jumping up on rocks and cliff formations.
Next we went to run in some slot canyons. We chose the Wild Horse loop which was about 9 miles. It was getting a bit hot but the shade and wind helped keep us mostly cool. There was some technical scrambling and we had to lift Billy a few times. Toward the end we took off running and searching for shade.
The wind picked up and dust covered everything. Glad to be back in the van and heading to Moab. Here the airbnb had a sweet pool so Paul and I cleaned up and went for a swim. Afterwards the whole gang met for dinner at Arches Thai. John and Jen came too and spent the night in the airbnb. Paul and I went to BLM land just North of Moab to snooze.
Canyonlands Needles Area: In the morning we could see clearly that we parked close to the Bar M trails where Gene and I did the Arches Ultra race in 2019. After a Billy’s walk we headed into Moab and had coffee and breakfast at Nuclear Bean Coffee in the Moab food truck park.
Yummy and a very tasty sauce for the breakfast burrito. We drive back to the gang and then meet up at Elephant Hill trail head for our day run/hike. It was already windy but we ran into the park and it was one of the best days on the trip. The running was easy and the caves, slot canyons and views were spectacular. It took us about 5 hours to do our lollipop loop and after saying goodbyes we started for home.
We only made it to Monticello before the winds and dust-filled sky made us find refuge in the National Forest. We went towards Lloyd’s Lake and continued on the forest road (5255)to park behind some trees for the night.
Making our way back home: In the morning it was much calmer. It was a pretty drive with a breakfast stop in Cortez at a little park on Denny Lake. We made our way through Durango, Pagosa Springs and stopped again for lunch at Heron Lake SP. The lake was pretty sad and the water level very low. No boats could use the ramp. We enjoyed lunch, paid the $5 and left.
We make a few more stops before arriving home safely. Whew!