Portal Canyon, Virgin River Gorge, Arizona

The Virgin River Gorge, known as the VRG, is a place of transitions and contradictions. It is the intersection of the Colorado Plateau and the Mojave Desert, between sandstone and limestone, between an incredibly arid climate and the Virgin River flowing through it, between remote wilderness and nearby civilization. Located between St. George and Mesquite, the VRG is accessed through I-15, one of the most expensive highway projects ever constructed. This section of highway is a challenging drive in the best of conditions due to an extremely curvy road, small shoulders and surprisingly high speeds. Add in high winds or darkness and the fact that there is no cell signal in most of the Gorge and the drive can become somewhat nerve-wracking. There are several technical canyons in the VRG, accessible through small pullouts off I-15, if you know where to look. This area is popular in the winter [...]

By |2024-06-05T05:04:10+00:00April 7, 2024|arizona, canyoneer|0 Comments

North Coyote Buttes (AKA the Wave), Arizona

North Coyote Buttes, also known as “The Wave” is truly one of the most magical places I have ever visited. Each time we go, there are new wonders to explore. Everything from dinosaur tracks to incredible lace rock to intricately cut alcoves with sand dunes can be found here. This March, some of our canyoneering friends came to visit from out of state. Due to threatening weather, we took them to White Pockets and played the daily lottery from the top of the butte. Fortuitously, our friend Jess won the lottery, so we got to go for our fifth time and play tour guide. Let’s start with the basics. The Wave is one of the most difficult permits to obtain in the United States. Only 64 people per day are allowed to visit, with thousands of entries to the lottery. There are two types of lotteries, daily and advance. [...]

By |2024-04-25T15:44:23+00:00March 13, 2024|arizona, hike|0 Comments

White Pocket, Arizona

The Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, on the border or Utah and Arizona, is one of the greatest geological treasures in the United States. Deep within its heart, hidden in a maze of sandy roads are three incredible sites, all located within several miles of each other: The Wave (North Coyote Buttes), South Coyote Buttes and White Pocket. Of these three sites, White Pocket is the only one currently accessible without a permit. Many years ago, on our first trip to the southwest, my husband and I booked a tour of White Pocket and it proved to be the gateway drug that led to us eventually moving to southern Utah. So be careful! A trip here might just change your life 😊. Located in a fairly small area, you may want to allocate three to four hours for the hike. The drive might take two or more hours each way. [...]

By |2024-03-21T02:12:00+00:00March 11, 2024|arizona, hike|0 Comments

Soap Creek, Grand Canyon, Arizona

Soap Creek is a thoroughly delightful canyon, located in Marble Canyon, Arizona. This short and engaging canyon has it all – a fantastic approach (straight off a parking lot), gorgeous views, interesting and beautiful rappels and a challenging scramble back to the car. This canyon requires a short shuttle, with the entry in a large parking lot next to Cliff Dwellers Lodge off Highway 89A. The drainage starts immediately next to the parking lot, with a few minutes’ walk under a bridge that crosses the highway. Beta is available here: Soap Creek Canyon - ropewiki. No permits are required. When we did this canyon in mid-March, there was water flowing all throughout the wash, which made for a very fun day. When we started out that morning, it was cold and windy, so we were very much interested in not getting wet if possible, but we still brought our [...]

By |2024-05-09T04:00:02+00:00March 10, 2024|arizona, canyoneer, grand canyon|0 Comments

Lower Waterholes Canyon, Grand Canyon, Arizona

On a cold morning in mid-March we pulled up to a small pullout on Highway 89 in Arizona above the entrance to the Lower Waterholes Canyon slot. Our group of seven was present and accounted for. Our friend Chelsea had obtained the permits needed from the Navajo Nation to descend Lower Waterholes. A boat would arrive to pick us up at 4pm down at the beach on the Colorado River. All our clocks were synchronized, all our plans ready for the big rappel sequence. It was go time. As a side note, this canyon requires a permit from the Navajo Nation. More information can be found here: Waterholes Canyon (Lower) - ropewiki. Right on cue, a passerby pulled over and informed us there was a marathon happening that day, passing right through our parking spot, and that we couldn’t park there anyway. We had researched the parking situation, with [...]

By |2024-05-09T04:18:27+00:00March 9, 2024|arizona, canyoneer, grand canyon|0 Comments

Badger Canyon, Grand Canyon, Arizona

After five posts in a row about Death Valley, it’s time to move on to something completely different. Let’s talk about the Grand Canyon! There are a number of great technical canyons near Page, Arizona that we wanted to visit. The first canyon we explored was the North Fork of Badger Canyon with our niece Mira and our friends Mel Rader and Kieran Corrigan. It was wonderful of Mel and Kieran to take the day off and play with us. Badger is a short canyon that is easily accessible from US 89A in Marble Canyon, Arizona. From a pullout right by the highway, you can drop right into the canyon drainage. There are no permits required and beta is available here: Badger Canyon - ropewiki. To give you a brief overview, the north fork of Badger has four rappels and a short walk to the Colorado River. There are [...]

By |2024-05-09T04:18:47+00:00February 20, 2024|arizona, canyoneer, grand canyon|0 Comments

Thousand Pockets, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona

If you’re craving solitude and a fascinating introduction to how water impacts the desert, Thousand Pockets right near Page, Arizona might be a great winter hike for you. Winter or early spring is a great time to visit this corner of the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, particularly after rain or snow. Precipitation helps compact the very sandy roads and makes this drive a lot safer and more pleasant. It’s also best to visit when the water pockets are full to get the full experience of water in the desert. There is no permit required to visit this area. A four-wheel drive vehicle with good clearance is highly recommended to get to the trailhead as there are a couple areas with rock "steps" to drive over and much of the drive is in deep sand. The trailhead can be located by navigating to "Thousand Pockets, Arizona" on Google maps, but [...]

By |2024-03-21T02:24:20+00:00February 14, 2024|arizona, hike|0 Comments

South Coyote Buttes, Arizona

Deep in the middle of the desert, in the heart of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, down some very sketchy sandy roads, lies an amazing place called the South Coyote Buttes. The only way to really describe this magical place is to imagine Dali and Gaudi getting together and directing sandstone erosion for a few million years. There are bright colors, crazy shapes, beautiful views. South Coyote Buttes is adjacent to another area you might have heard of called the North Coyote Buttes, also known as "The Wave", that we have visited before several times. South Coyote Buttes is a fantastic alternative to The Wave, which is extremely difficult to get into. It also requires a permit, but is much easier to obtain, especially in the winter months when visitation is down. To obtain a permit, you have a couple of options. You can join the general lottery four [...]

By |2024-03-21T02:35:02+00:00December 11, 2022|arizona, hike|1 Comment
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