Karen and I had a great two week journey this April traveling in a big circle through the middle of the Colorado Plateau. We started by driving in Karens’ VW Westphalia Syncro Van to Sowats Point on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s about a 9 hour drive from Telluride.
We went thru Cortez, Kayenta, Lees Ferry and to Jacob Lake on state highways. From Jacob Lake the paved road to the main North Rim, AZ 67, was still closed for the season, it opens each year on May 15th. There is a network of secondary forest roads that allow you to access the North Rim by driving further west. These roads are not in Grand Canyon National Park but are part of the Kaibab National Forest. The last 1.5 hours of the drive are on these maintained decent dirt roads, the last 9 miles on slow two track, un maintained, high clearance but OK if dry road.
From Sowats Point we backpacked for 6 days/5 nights down into the Kanab Creek drainage system. We started at the Jump-up/Nail Trail Head and descended 2,000′ down to the Esplanade level. From there we left the trail and hiked down Kwagunt Hollow following the wash. Water appeared very near the top of Kwagunt. Kwagunt Hollow leads into Jump-up Canyon and we spent the night, just above the confluence of the two, at a nice pool which was the last water in Kwagunt. The next day we crossed the boundary into Grand Canyon National Park and followed the dry section of Jump-up Canyon down to where it runs into Kanab Creek. There are some spectacular narrows through the Redwall Limestone in this section.
We hiked down Kanab Creek to Shower Bath Spring where we spent our second night. Shower Bath Spring is one of the most incredible places anywhere. Pure spring water rains out of a very large monkey flower fern that is growing on the wall 10′ above the creek. There is a nice , medium sized camp site there. Water appears a couple of miles above Shower Bath Spring and increases in volume the further down you go.
The next day was spent moving further down Kanab Creek. From this point on you are walking in water most of the time. No swimming required but lot’s of wading and careful hiking among cobbles and boulders. A couple of miles below Shower Bath is a side canyon called Scotty’s Hollow. What an incredible and delightful place! Best experienced on a warm sunny day, which we had. Lots of swimming and deep wading through one lovely pool after another. We dropped our packs and spent a half day enjoying Scotty’s.
From Scotty’s we moved down Kanab Creek several more miles. It’s one killer shangri-la swimming pool after another all the way down from here on.
We made a nice camp a mile above Whispering Falls. In the morning we day hiked without packs to Whispering Falls. From there it’s about three more hours hiking to the Colorado River. We did not choose to go to the river. Beta makes the last bit sound not too interesting and the delta at the mouth of Kanab not a great place to hang. Instead we began our return. We hiked that afternoon back up Kanab Creek and camped near the last water above Shower Bath Spring.
In the morning we continued to re-trace our route up and out. We went through the Jump-up narrows and got to the mouth of Kwagunt Hollow. From there we deviated from our route down. Instead of following Kwagunt back out we stayed in Jump-up for another mile or so and turned up Sowats Canyon. We camped that night at Mountain Sheep Spring in Sowats Canyon. Another very nice camp and the last water in Sowats Canyon. The next day we had a delightful walk up and out of Sowats and across the Esplanade. We hooked up with the trail at the top of Kwagunt and got up to the van at about 1:00 PM. Great trip!
We drove to Kanab and camped in the van near Coral Pink Sand Dunes, but we didn’t go into the park. The next day we drove to Escalante and stopped along the way at Bryce Canyon National Park. We went for a great run on the trial system there. Magic fairyland area x10.
We spent a few days doing a 4 day/3 night back pack in the Escalante, Ut zone. We went off the Hole in the Rock road to the Early Weed Bench Trail Head. Almost got the van stuck but that van is pretty kick ass so we made it. We did a loop across the complex rim country over to Scorpion Gulch. Then down Scorpion Gulch to the Escalante River. We hiked downstream along the Escalante for a few miles and exited back to the rim via the historic Scorpion Horse Trail. Another great trip with swimming and scenery to the max. The last night was a dry camp on the rim with a cold and constant 20 mph north wind. Reality check!
We finished with a couple of nice day hikes. One super great hike with Ace, his dog Genghis and his Canadian friends Pat and Baiba. Late that afternoon we drove across the Burr Trial and van camped at Halls Overlook not far from Bullfrog. Our last day was spent hiking the big loop in Natural Bridges National Monument. I have driven past Natural Bridges probably more than 50 times but had never gone in. I loved it! Beautiful canyon, killer natural bridges, great swimming and only a few people out on the more distant routes. Super nice campground there for van camping on our last night. I love that van.