Once again, I threw my professional cares to the wind, picked a pair of beat-out running shoes I wanted to destroy, crammed the trusty dad-mobile to the roof with camping gear, and headed west. Last year’s eye-opening Spring Break trip proved that our life of adventure and exploration wasn’t over just because we had young kids. They survived and thrived for four nights of camping and relatively challenging hikes in the springtime deserts of Utah. This year, they’re a year older (7.5 and 3.5) and correspondingly tougher. We modified last year’s winning formula by making it slightly tougher and more ambitious. The plan: two nights in well-known Moab. Then two more nights farther afield in the remote Goblin Valley State Park in the San Rafael Swell.
Day 1: Arches NP, Delicate Arch hike
It’s probably the most famous rock arch in the world and certainly the most famous in Utah. It’s on the license plates and everything. The arch was nice enough (though crowded) and the kids did great on the hike to and from, but the best part was wandering around beyond the arch through the maze of domes and fins on the far side. I remember doing this with Chip and Peter in 2009 and this was equally fun.
Day 2: Corona and Bow-Tie Arches (near Moab)
After the 2008 Moab Redhot, Amy and I and some other folks decided to do a recovery hike to Corona Arch. We parked in the right spot and hike for several miles up a canyon without seeing anything. I don’t know how we went wrong, because the trail was totally obvious this time. Short hike with a fun cable and ladder section. Bowtie Arch (bowties are cool) is the high bridge up on the wall while Corona is the huge mostly-free-standing arch adjacent. It’s enormous and ropey. Very cool spot!
After the Corona Arch hike, we climbed in the car and drove for two hours through Green River to Goblin Valley State Park. The weather was ominous and windy, but we were too committed to bail out now. Plus, I had big plans for the morrow! A cold, restless night ensued.
Day 3: Goblin Valley and Little Wildhorse Canyon
Goblin Valley was great and we had a lot of fun messing about near the campground in the morning, then geared up for the main event of the whole trip. I first visited Little Wildhorse canyon in 2008 as a warm-up for our big Buckskin/Pariah slot canyon run. It was so cool that I’ve been waiting eight years for the kids to get big enough and tough enough to enjoy a return visit.
The full loop of Little Wildhorse and the adjacent Bell canyon (which is nice, but not quite the same magnitude) is about 8 miles. We opted for a shorter out-and-back trip of Little Wildhorse instead. How far was it? I don’t know, my GPS really doesn’t like slot canyons. But it doesn’t matter; everyone had a fantastic and exhausting time.
Returning to the campground in the mid-afternoon, we checked the weather forecast and saw that substantially sub-freezing temperatures were expected. Since we’d accomplished all the big objectives out here, it didn’t take long for us to decide that packing up and driving east to a motel in Fruita was a pretty attractive option.
Day 4: Fruita, Colorado National Monument, Glenwood Springs.
After a lovely night in a warm motel, we set out for a modest adventure through Colorado National Monument, then drove east to Glenwood Springs and soaked for a few blissful hours in the Hot Spring. This was topped off by a night in the delightfully-historic Hotel Colorado where we did not encounter the ghost of Teddy Roosevelt or anyone else for that matter.
Sure, the drive home on Friday was a bit exciting (tire chains purchased and then used) and everything is filthy from the sand. But that’s the sign of a good vacation!
Last year’s Spring Break marked the start of the Danforth Adventure Season of 2015. However, this year, we’ve been adventuring since before New Years with big travel, skiing adventures and now a quartet of days in the desert. And it’s only March! I have huge hopes that 2016 will far surpass even last year’s high mark.