reflection comes easy
Looking out over a sea of pink I was reminded of the past, both recent and times long gone. Just three weeks earlier I had sat on the equally impressive White Sand Dunes of their namesake Monument. It was the beginning of a seven week stretch of desert camping that would take us from the New Mexico Monument to the Valley of Fire in Nevada. Reflection comes easy in the peace and natural beauty of a place like Coral Pink Sand Dunes. The Utah State Park, while not as immense as its paler cousin in New Mexico is nonetheless expansive and in typical Utah style colorful in an otherworldly way.
It was the first of three Utah State Parks we would visit and to be honest we were initially drawn to them for their inexpensive camping and shower facilities, often lacking in their National Park counterparts in the state. With little preparation or research on the area, we were somewhat blown away by the beauty of the place. When traveling in a state blessed with so many such spots it never fails to surprise that some go less noticed than others. But part of the advantage of a long open ended trip is the lack of time restraints and the ability to see more than others rushing through. But no matter how long you have it never seems enough and with each successive visit, it seemed I accordingly planned more. (continued below in Fondest Memory)
wearing even the most hearty out
I married nine years later and vowed to show my wife the wonders of the American west. We made the opportunity of a slow economy work in our favor when we left our commission based jobs and set off across country plenty early to enjoy the southwest to its fullest. We had arrived three weeks earlier in White Sands National Monument, a place entirely new for the two of us. It's not always easy returning to places you've done before with someone new whether the previous experiences were shared with another or not but the former situation adds a new challenge. I was to find time and again that my wife was more than up to it. She, in fact, seemed on a vendetta to make sure that this trip was by far the greatest of all my adventures west. She'd obliterated everything I'd done at the Grand Canyon and Zion but all that competition can wear even the most hearty out. So, it was nice to visit lots of new places with no history or baggage and Coral Pink Sand Dunes was yet another in a growing line of pleasant surprises.
We'd spent the morning at Zion in no hurry. I'd done a solo photo shoot at dawn and returned expecting to find my wife still asleep, much deserved after a two night backpacking trip on Zion's West Rim. But instead, she had already packed up all our camping gear and had the stove ready for her true reward-a pancake breakfast and a good strong cup of coffee. I gladly complied and soon we were enjoying yet another breakfast with Zion's towering walls as our backdrop. We sadly pulled out of Zion an hour later after nearly a week of bliss. (concluded below in Fondest Memory)
The Moquith Mountains and History
There a two prominent pictograph sites in the Moquith Mtns. Both require a HC 4Wd and some skill.
The rangers at Coral Pink Sand dunes can give you maps. Don't try these unprepared!
The Indian Springs site is the easiest and requires about 6 miles of sandy road to the TH. From there it's less than a mile to the drawings, These are in a protected alcove and there is a fence to keep out vandals.
The Water Canyon site requires a lot of work and if hiking it will be a long day. We took our Jeep in with a few others and it is some very rugged country. Ask at Coral Pink.
Town at the Axis of Parks
"Mecca to Stay for Surrounding Sites"
This town of 3600 people is staged to serve the tourism that comes through and around the area to see the national parks. It is as close as you can get to Grand Canyon North at 85 miles, Zion about 45 miles west and Bryce around 85 miles. To the east is Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness area and that is a prelude to Page and Glen Canyon Dam. They are 90 miles away. Kanab, itself used to be a movie center for some cowboy flicks. They still live in that fame today. It used to be called Little Hollywood.
The town got its start in 1857 by Mormon John Hamblin who was sent here to start a settlement. The name is from the Indians, meaning "willow". They converted some Indians into the religion. In 1870 more Mormons came her to set up living and farming. Grasshoppers played havoc over some years, and the desert climate ever changing.
"In the Center of Things to Do & See"
This is a quasi topo map of the parks in the radius of Kanab town.
"REal Life in the Outback"
This Sign just outside of town may have depicted the attitude and living style of the locals. It is counter to the Mormon influence around the State, but not all are Mormons here, for sure.
Kanab and the surrounding area
"The Kanab Area"
Kanab is located in the center of what is called the "Great Circle". I like to come here from my home, stay over night and explore the less travelled areas.
From Kanab you can easily access Johnson Canyon Rd, Cottonwood Rd, Skutempah Rd and other backways in the Grand Staircase. Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Indian Canyon Petroglyphs, and the Wire Pass area are all accesible from Kanab.
I've added this to the Kanab area because it's only 40 miles East on Hwy 89.
It took awhile to get my permit and I would check with the website for current permit info. The day we hiked it was cloudy and about 35 F. I would not even try this in July or August, it's exposed and would be brutally hot. The hike is about 5.5 miles round trip over some sandy areas and some slickrock. The views are spectacular and the Wave is beyond description.
We used a GPS and it was extremely useful on the return trip. Once you're out there it all looks the same, be attentive!
I will be back in that area, soon, to do the hike in Buckskin Gulch. This is from the same trailhead and is supposed to be spectacular. This is a fee area and you must register when entering.
A hunter recently told the local BLM office of some dinosaur tracks just South of Coral Pink State Park. We were able to find the location and visited there on 12/23/07. These tracks are spectacular, they say there are nearly 1000. We didn't find that many but what we did find were very cool.
This area is open to the public but you'll need a 4 Wheel drive to access it. A friend tried this in a 2wd and paid a steep towing bill!