GOATreks- Hiking with Pack Goats in Southeastern Utah

Hiking with pack goats with GOATreks- San Juan County, UT

About a month ago I had the opportunity to go hiking with GOATreks, a new guiding company in San Juan County. I have to admit, I had never given much thought to goats in the past, and my experience with them had been limited to feeding Pygmy goats at petting zoos. (Which was about 50/50 for good/bad experiences!) But it turns out that hiking with goats is a thing! If you search Airbnb Experiences, you will find goat hiking experiences everywhere from New York, California, Texas, and now, thanks to GOATreks, San Juan County, Utah!

Safety talk before our hike with GOATreks- San Juan County, UT

GOATreks is listed on Airbnb Experiences, so we signed up for our hike there, which makes it very easy if you’re already an Airbnb user. We received instructions for where to meet up, and everything went very smoothly meeting up with Kathleen, and caravanning a few miles to the location we’d be hiking that day.

Kathleen started by introducing us to two of her pack goats, Echo and Hamish, and going over some safety information, which I really appreciated since I have spent very little time around goats, and had never been around goats of this size before. Pretty much as soon as we met Echo & Hamish, we could tell that they were very similar to dogs- they seem to like to interact with people, they’re curious and playful, and they each have their own unique personality. Within minutes of meeting the goats, I knew we were in for a fun experience!

Hiking with pack goats with GOATreks

I think one of the most important pieces of information Kathleen went over, was that you should never touch the goats’ horns. These goats will be between 185-215 lbs when they’re full grown, and the last thing you’d want from a goat that size is for them to use their horns on people. Goats use their horns on each other for both play and for establishing dominance within their herd, so touching their horns could make a goat think that you’re either challenging them, or playing with them. Either way you don’t want a 200+ lb goat to push back on a human with their horns, whether they’re just trying to play or establish dominance.

Hiking with pack goats with GOATreks- San Juan County, UT

We had signed up for a 3 mile hike through a beautiful area right on the edge of the Manti- La Sal National Forest about halfway between Monticello and Blanding. It’s a unique area that I have always loved located where the forest meets the desert, with tall Ponderosa Pine trees, but also cactus and yucca. We were actually walking on an unpaved road, rather than a designated hiking trail, which is something that my family does a lot around here.

If there’s one thing that San Juan County does an amazing job on, it’s the roads! There are thousands of miles of unpaved roads in San Juan County, and for the most part, pretty much any road you drive on seems to have been grated pretty recently. And since there are thousands of miles of roads, it’s pretty easy to find a road to walk on where you can be away from other people.

Hiking with pack goats with GOATreks- San Juan County, UT
Hiking with pack goats with GOATreks- San Juan County, UT

As we headed down the road, I definitely felt like part of the ‘herd’. Kathleen led the way, and Echo and Hamish would sometimes walk in front of the rest of the human herd, but they’d often stop to take a bite from the scrub oak or anything else that caught their eye along the road. Sometimes they’d even stand on their hind legs to reach the higher leaves, which we all enjoyed watching!

Hiking with pack goats with GOATreks- San Juan County, UT

I quickly realized that goats make awesome hiking companions! I’m sure the dog-owners out there will find this hard to believe, but I think pack goats might actually make slightly better hiking companions than dogs. (Yes, I said it!) Pack goats not only carry your stuff, but also since they will snack on the foliage you pass while you’re hiking, you don’t need to worry about bringing anything for them! And most important- they stay with you! My dog is awesome about staying with us when we take her for walks in areas where leashes aren’t required, but she does occasionally stray a little farther than we’d like, and we have to call her back. But as herd animals, goats instinctively stay together for protection. I don’t think Echo and Hamish were more than a few feet away from a human at any point during our hike.

Hiking with pack goats with GOATreks- San Juan County, UT

As we hiked, Kathleen talked about the area, and pointed out plants and different things along the trail. Since we were all from the area, I think most of our questions were more about the goats than anything else. Like I mentioned earlier, I had really never given much thought to goats before. To me they were just another farm animal at the petting zoo, but I began to realize that they also make awesome companions. Echo and Hamish were curious, playful, and intelligent. I raised pigs in FFA in high school, and I’ve always compared them to dogs- they are so smart, but also silly and playful, and goats seem very similar to them.

We got to a point in the road where there was a rock outcropping off to the side, and Kathleen gave us the option of taking our break at the base of it, or hiking a little ways up to a flat spot, which is what we opted for. Echo and Hamish had no trouble climbing up the slope, of course, and they took the opportunity to impress all of us with their balance and sure-footedness, by walking up a log that was on the slope.

Hiking with pack goats with GOATreks- San Juan County, UT

Although Echo and Hamish aren’t full grown yet, and are not yet able to carry the full amount of weight that they’ll eventually be able to carry, Hamish was able to carry snacks and drinks for us! When we got to the flat spot up the slope, Kathleen distributed the goodies, and also snacks for the goats, which we were able to feed to them out of our hands. They loved the snacks, and in fact when I ran out, Echo started nibbling on my earrings, which had round blue stones, which I’m sure looked like blueberries or something else delicious to a goat!

Hiking with pack goats with GOATreks- San Juan County, UT

When it was time to start heading back, we branched off the path we took on the way out, and connected to another road which had a nice view of a cliff dwelling high up in the rock wall above us. That’s how it is in San Juan County… you can pretty much be in any canyon, in most any part of the county and you will see some kind of trace of the previous inhabitants of this area, whether it’s pottery sherds, arrowheads or other lithics, corn cobs, petroglyphs or pictographs, or archaeological structures.

The excitement of seeing these remnants of the past never wears off, but it’s important to note that all artifacts should be left where you find them. Look at them, enjoy them, take a photo of them if you’d like, but leave them where you find them so that others can ‘discover’ and enjoy them too.

Here’s a helpful and informative video from Friends of Cedar Mesa that discusses some of the many reasons why you should leave artifacts where you find them. (Besides the fact that it’s illegal to take them!)

VWR Tip: Leave All Artifacts from Friends of Cedar Mesa on Vimeo.

Hiking with pack goats with GOATreks- San Juan County, UT

My son thoroughly enjoyed hiking with Echo & Hamish and has asked me several times since if we can go for another hike with Kathleen and her goats! Who knew that all it took was a couple of pack goats to get a kid to happily hike without complaining or whining?! Plus, Kathleen is amazing with kids, and has a knack for talking to them like she’s talking to another adult, but yet explaining things in a way that they can understand. (Please note that children must be 12 or older to participate in this tour.)

Kathleen is a wonderful ambassador for Southeastern Utah and Bears Ears National Monument and the surrounding area. In just the few short hours we spent with her, her passion and excitement for what she does and where she lives is obvious. You can’t help but get exited when you’re with someone who is so passionate and knowledgeable!

GOATreks offers everything from a short 1 hour goat experience, all the way up to a 6 hour hike, so there’s sure to be something that will fit any schedule and activity level. Hiking with Kathleen and her goats was such a fun and unique experience, I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who is visiting the area and looking for a way to get a little more in depth and learn about the area from a local.

For more information or to request a San Juan County travel guide, please visit our website or call:

800-574-4386

Or e-mail us at: info@utahscanyoncountry.com

Posted in Bears Ears National Monument, Hiking, Off the Beaten Path, Social Distancing-friendly, Tours, Tours/Guided Trips, Travel, Utah | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

San Juan River & Hummer Cliff Dwelling Tour with Wild Expeditions

River & Hummer Tour with Wild Expeditions- Bluff, UT

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been about 11 years since I last floated the San Juan River with Wild Rivers Expeditions back in 2011, and a lot has changed since then. Jared & Spring Berrett, who were already running Four Corners Adventures, bought Wild Rivers Expeditions in 2013 and merged the two guiding companies and became ‘Wild Expeditions‘, offering both land-based tours throughout Southeastern Utah, and river trips on the San Juan River.

When I last went out on the river with them, their shortest river trip was a full-day Upper Canyon trip, which covered 26 miles from Sand Island to Mexican Hat. (You can read my blog entry on that trip HERE.) I’m not sure when they began offering their 1/2 day river & hummer trip, but I know that I have been sending Familiarization (FAM) Tours (journalists, travel trade members, influencers, etc) out on that specific tour for at least several years now, and we’ve heard nothing but great feedback from everyone. So I feel like it’s long overdue that I get out there and experience the tour I’m sending so many people on!

Bluff Dwellings Resort & Wild Expeditions- Bluff, UT

We started the day by checking in at the front desk of Bluff Dwellings Resort, which is one of the newest hotels in Bluff, UT Jared & Spring Berrett own both Wild Expeditions and Bluff Dwellings Resort, so it’s very convenient for visitors who are staying at Bluff Dwellings Resort to book tours with Wild Expeditions, since the tours all meet and depart in front of the lobby.

Our guides Kayleb and Nanibaa’, greeted us right after we checked in and let us know that Kayleb would be our guide on the river, and Nanibaa’ would be picking us up in the hummer when we got off the river, and taking us to River House Ruin. We loaded up in the van and headed out for Sand Island, which was our starting point for the day, (about 4 miles/5 minutes SW of Bluff) and Kayleb and Nanibaa’ got everything ready and brought us life jackets and did a quick safety talk before it was time to get in the raft.

On this particular trip, you have the option of a raft or solo or tandem inflatable kayaks. We had opted for the raft since we had varying levels of experience/comfort in our group. As soon as we walked down to the river, I was surprised at how high the water was! Kayleb told us that the flow had increased drastically since the week before due to recent rain in the area, and that it was at about 1,100 cfs. (The last time I floated this section was last July and the water level was at about 475 cfs, so I was thrilled with 1,100!)

The 1/2 day trip covers about 8 miles on the river, which is about 1/3 of the distance of the full-day trip, so it’s a nice intro to the river for people who might be trying it for the first time, or maybe don’t have enough time in their itinerary to commit to the full-day trip. Plus, in addition to the river experience, the 1/2 day tour gives you a taste of a 4×4 hummer tour as well, which I was really looking forward to since I’d never done a hummer tour before.

Moki Steps- River & Hummer Tour with Wild Expeditions- Bluff, UT

As soon as we pushed away from the boat ramp, it was completely quiet and peaceful with only the sounds of the river, our paddles, and the birds. The San Juan River is regulated by a lottery system, so there are a limit to the number of people/groups who can launch each day for the sections between Sand Island, Mexican Hat, and Clay Hills. Due to this limit, you don’t encounter many other groups while you’re floating, which I think is a good thing- it really allows boaters to have a peaceful, relaxed experience and helps prevent the negative effects of overuse.

Another huge change since my first guided trip on the San Juan River that I definitely need to mention, is that this area is now part of Bears Ears National Monument. There has been a lot of controversy and many changes to the monument over the past 5+ years since it was first designated as a national monument in December 2016 by President Obama, but the current boundaries include the north side of the river from the area close to Sand Island, to just past the Goosenecks. So for visitors who are interested in exploring the monument, a river trip is a great option!

It wasn’t long before we came to the first archaeological site along the river- several sets of Moki steps on the north side of the river. Usually when you see Moki Steps, you can look above them and see some kind of archaeological site, like a granary. But at this site, from the river you aren’t able to see what the Moki steps are leading to. But these Moki Steps are very deep and defined, and they’re a great example if you’ve never seen Moki Steps 

River & Hummer Tour with Wild Expeditions- Bluff, UT
River & Hummer Tour with Wild Expeditions- Bluff, UT

In my opinion, one of the biggest highlights of any San Juan River trip departing from Sand Island, is the opportunity to view at the Butler Petroglyph Panel. It has to be one of the single most extensive and impressive panels in the southeastern part of the state, if not Utah itself. As many times as I’ve stopped there, I feel like I see new figures each time I stop. We took our time viewing this panel, while Kayleb shared some interpretive information on the panel, such as what some of the figures might represent.

As we were departing, the multi-day group had just caught up to us, and we waited for them to unload from their rafts and kayaks before we all got back in ours. We got back on the river and enjoyed watching the blue herons, ravens, ducks, and Canadian geese as we continued down the river.  

Lunch on the River & Hummer Tour with Wild Expeditions- Bluff, UT

Since the river was high that day, we reached our take-out location about an hour quicker than usual, according to Kayleb. When we got there Nanibaa’ was there to greet us and she had lunch ready for us complete with a camping sink to wash our hands in, chairs for each of us, and even a table with a cute tablecloth! 

Lunch on the River & Hummer Tour with Wild Expeditions- Bluff, UT

The lunch was great- I remember being really impressed with the lunch the first time I went out with Wild Rivers Expeditions too. When I do private river trips with my family and friends, I’m the laziest cook ever. I have lots of friends who like to do elaborate meals on the river, but that’s not me. When I’m on the river, I’m on vacation… and the last thing I want to do while I’m on vacation is cooking and washing dishes! I pack dehydrated meals and very few things that require cutting/slicing. So I think the fact that that’s how I’m used to eating on the river, made Wild Expeditions’ lunch all the more impressive to me!! Fresh fruit salad, a variety of veggies for our sandwiches and to snack on, assorted cookies… Wild Expeditions definitely know how to do lunch!! Not that I needed to be won over, but if I hadn’t already been having a great day, they would have won me over with their lunch set-up!

River & Hummer Tour with Wild Expeditions- Bluff, UT

After we finished lunch Kayleb and Nanibaa’ packed everything up and we loaded into the hummer and began making our way to River House Ruin. One of my coworkers and I opted to sit in the high, covered seats in the back of the hummer, and our other coworker sat down in one of the regular seats. I will tell you, riding up in the back was an adventure!! My coworker pointed out the juxtaposition of the calm float on the river, and the wild ride in the back up the hummer! But we wanted the full experience, so we were happy with our choice!

River & Hummer Tour with Wild Expeditions- Bluff, UT

We pulled up to River House and we were the only ones there, which is always nice when visiting an archaeological site. Nanibaa’ took over and started telling us about the site, and she mentioned that it’s also known as Snake House, which I don’t think I’d ever heard before. But it makes sense on why it would be called that- there’s a huge pictograph just above the structure that looks like it could be a snake.

River & Hummer Tour with Wild Expeditions- Bluff, UT

We climbed the steps up to get a closer look at the site, and enjoyed the shade in the alcove. When you take a second to turn around and look back out towards the river, I always feel a connection to the people who once lived there. Looking out at the river, I can’t help but think about the fact that I’m standing in the same place, and looking at the same view (Well, pretty much the same view minus the Tamarisk and Russian Olive that have taken over in more recent years.) that the Ancestral Puebloans did over a thousand years ago, which is a really cool, unique experience.

River & Hummer Tour with Wild Expeditions- Bluff, UT

While we were at River House, we realized that it was the summer solstice, and Nanibaa’ mentioned that there’s a solstice site located near there. We walked over to take a look at it, but it was a random time, so unfortunately there wasn’t anything noticeable happening, (no shadow cutting through the center of the petroglyph, or anything similar that you hear about seeing at noon at solstice sites.) but it was still cool to be there on that day knowing that it had special significance for the solstice.

River & Hummer Tour with Wild Expeditions- Bluff, UT

After we finished looking at River House and the surrounding area, it was time to head back to Bluff, so we all loaded back into the hummer and made our way down the rough dirt road back toward Hwy 95. Along the way we passed a marker for the Hole in the Rock Trail, which is the path that the San Juan Expedition (also known as the Hole in the Rock Expedition) traveled from the western side of the state, over to the Four Corners area, and ended up settling in Bluff in the spring of 1880.

Not far from the marker, there’s an interpretive sign marking San Juan Hill, which was the last major obstacle that the pioneers had to cross before reaching Bluff. It’s a pretty incredible story, and I’d highly recommend stopping by the Bluff Fort to learn about the expedition and the families who came across and settled in Bluff. (You can read my previous blog post on the Bluff Fort & Hole in the Rock Expedition HERE.)

While you’re heading back to the main road, you’re pretty much right at the base of Comb Ridge, which is a monocline that stretches over 80 miles from the Abajo Mountains to near Kayenta, AZ, which is just south of Monument Valley. The view of Comb Ridge is absolutely stunning along this road!

Before we knew it, and all too soon, we were back at Bluff Dwellings Resort and our tour was over. We thanked Kayleb and Nanibaa’ as they dropped us off in front of the lobby, and we decided to hit the Cedar Shack Cafe for a cold drink before heading back to Monticello. (I highly recommend their Lime Rickeys! I rarely pass through Bluff without stopping by and grabbing one to go!)

After years of sending others on Wild Expeditions’ River and Hummer Cliff Dwelling tour, I’m happy to finally be able to speak about it from first-hand experience! We had a wonderful day, and I think this tour is the perfect introduction to the river not just for first-timers, but also a great way for anyone who wants to delve a little deeper into the area and experience it in a different way than from a car or by hiking. There really is no better way to experience this area- on the River & Hummer Cliff Dwelling Tour, you get a taste of everything that makes San Juan County unique; geology, archaeology, Native American history and culture, wildlife… Not to mention you have the river to help you stay cool on even the hottest summer days!

Posted in Bears Ears National Monument, Bluff, Rock Art, Ruins, San Juan River, Things to do with kids, Tours, Tours/Guided Trips, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Arch Canyon OHV Tour with Sunrise Outfitting

Arch Canyon OHV Tour with Sunrise Outfitting- Bears Ears National Monument- San Juan County, Utah

A few weeks ago, our office had the opportunity to go on a guided tour with Sunrise Outfitting, a local guide based in Blanding, UT, who runs guided OHV tours throughout Bears Ears National Monument and the surrounding area. For our outing, the owner, Josh Nielson, suggested Arch Canyon- a popular OHV & jeep route through a beautiful canyon with countless archaeological sites.

As those of you who follow my blog may remember, I don’t own an ATV or OHV myself, but I’ve been known to bum a ride or two over the years! In fact, one of the first rides I bummed was on the Arch Canyon trail ride during the 2011 San Juan ATV Safari. It was an awesome ride and a beautiful canyon, so I was excited for the opportunity to go back with one of our local guides. (You can read about my first Arch Canyon ride HERE)

Since I had been on this trail, I thought I knew what was in store for us the morning we met up with Josh, but I was extremely excited to see that he does Arch Canyon a slightly different way, which added a level of excitement that I wasn’t expecting.

Archaeological Site near Comb Ridge Dugway, San Juan County, Utah

Josh had brought two OHVs, one that he would drive, and one that we could take turns driving. We started out on a gravel county road, and before dropping down toward Arch Canyon, we made a quick stop at an overlook for an awesome archaeological site that was just off the road. The site was tucked in an alcove, and from a distance appeared to be very well preserved. This site was not signed, and there was no interpretive information for visitors, so unless you knew where you were going, you’d likely never come across this site on your own… one of the many advantages to going out with a guide!

Old Hwy 95/Comb Ridge Dugway- San Juan County, Utah

I’d always heard about ‘Old Hwy 95’, (Also known as the Comb Ridge Dugway) which was built in the 40s to transport uranium. You can see the cut of the road in Comb Ridge from the west side, but I’d never been on it. We found out that morning that we’d be starting the ride off the Cottonwood Rd, and dropping down the Comb Ridge Dugway to access Arch Canyon.

Josh told us that this road was constructed to haul uranium from the Happy Jack Mine near Hite and what’s now Lake Powell, which is really hard to imagine when you see the road. People think the Moki Dugway is bad, but it has NOTHING on this road! The Moki Dugway is unpaved but it’s very well maintained and is plenty wide enough for two vehicles to pass each other… The Comb Ridge Dugway, on the other hand… I can’t even imagine how two vehicles, let alone two large trucks, would pass each other on it. And to think that this road was used until the current Hwy 95 (Bicentennial Highway) was paved in 1976 completely blows my mind!

Looking West from Old Hwy 95/Comb Ridge Dugway- San Juan County, Utah

The view from the top as we passed through Comb Ridge was absolutely beautiful. One of my favorite parts of the drive out toward Cedar Mesa is when you pass through Comb Ridge on Hwy 95, and the view from the top of this road was equally spectacular! I actually really enjoyed the fact that we were moving at a much slower speed, so we had a chance to take it in a little more than when you’re on Hwy 95.

Arch Canyon OHV Tour with Sunrise Outfitting- Bears Ears National Monument- San Juan County, Utah
Arch Canyon OHV Tour with Sunrise Outfitting- Bears Ears National Monument- San Juan County, Utah
Arch Canyon OHV Tour with Sunrise Outfitting- Bears Ears National Monument- San Juan County, Utah

Once you get to the bottom of the road through Comb Ridge, it’s just a short drive to the trailhead for the Arch Canyon Trail. There’s a large staging area at the trailhead, which is just barely off Hwy 95, and this is the more common starting point for Arch Canyon. But if you’re looking to add some excitement and an amazing view to your ride, you can always come down the Comb Ridge Dugway like we did!

One of the first things you come to when you start down the trail into Arch Canyon is an archaeological site. At first glance it seems like a small site, but as you walk along the base of the cliff wall, Josh pointed out how extensive the site once was. You can see marks in the cliff wall where logs were once secured, possibly for a roof or higher floors.

Arch Canyon OHV Tour with Sunrise Outfitting- Bears Ears National Monument- San Juan County, Utah

In addition to the structures, there are also quite a few petroglyphs and some pictographs at this site. At first, the petroglyphs (images etched into the rock) are a little hard to spot since there isn’t much patina on the rock wall for color differentiation, but the longer you look at it, the more and more you begin to see.

Arch Canyon OHV Tour with Sunrise Outfitting- Bears Ears National Monument- San Juan County, Utah
Arch Canyon OHV Tour with Sunrise Outfitting- Bears Ears National Monument- San Juan County, Utah

As we continued down the trail, Josh stopped several times and got out binoculars and a telescope to show us other archaeological sites nestled high in the canyon walls. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been in this canyon before on one of the rides during the San Juan ATV Safari, but I didn’t see a fraction of the sites that Josh pointed out to us. Each time he’d stop, I’d immediately start scanning the cliff walls trying to find the site before he showed it to us.

Arch Canyon OHV Tour with Sunrise Outfitting- Bears Ears National Monument- San Juan County, Utah

We also stopped at a site that we could actually hike right up to. It was a small structure, but the inside of it was unlike any structure I’ve seen before with what appeared to be shelves built into the walls, which was really cool.

Cathedral Arch- Arch Canyon- San Juan County, Utah

By the time we got to the end of the motorized trail/jeep road, which is about 7.5 miles up the canyon, the vegetation had changed quite a bit. Rather than the Cottonwood trees that were near the trailhead, this area had lots of tall Ponderosa Pine trees, which create a nice, shady spot for lunch. At the end of the motorized trail, there’s a big turnaround spot, a picnic table, and a view of Cathedral Arch- one of the arches that Arch Canyon is named for.

For anyone who would like to continue up the canyon, only hiking and horseback riding are allowed past this point. Just about a half mile farther up the canyon is Angel Arch, and about 2 more miles past that is Keystone Arch. After enjoying our lunches, we turned around and did the trail in reverse, although it was a much quicker ride out of the canyon since we had made all our stops on the way in.

Although Arch Canyon is one of our more popular OHV trails, I think we only came across 2-3 other groups that day- one as we were about halfway out of Arch Canyon, and a few 4-wheelers as we were driving up the Comb Ridge Dugway. It took a little maneuvering to make room to pass the 4-wheelers on the Dugway, so it’s completely beyond me how two regular sized vehicles would have passed each other!

We had a wonderful day with Sunrise Outfitting, and I was so glad that we had the opportunity to experience their guided tours. I really love how Josh includes the Comb Ridge Dugway/Old Hwy 95 as part of his tours of Arch Canyon- I think it gives visitors a really good taste of the diversity of trails in San Juan County, and a little bit of history too since I’m sure most visitors would have no idea that it was the old highway! I know I definitely learned a few things from Josh that day!

Bears Ears National Monument has been in the news so much in the past 5-6 years partially due to the controversy over the boundaries, and we know that there are many people who have already come, or are interested in visiting it. However, I think people are a little surprised when they arrive and find that it’s not the typical National Monument experience with an entrance station, visitor center, park brochures & maps, etc. Since there isn’t a park brochure listing all the hikes and points of interest that you can pick up once you arrive to help you plan your visit, you need to do your research before you come to make the most out of your time.

If you’re interested in visiting Bears Ears National Monument, but not really sure where to start, I’d definitely recommend going out with one of our local guides, like Sunrise Outfitting. They are local experts who are passionate about showing people the amazing things San Juan County, UT has to offer, and they are also equally passionate about helping to teach visitors how to visit with respect so that this area can continue to be enjoyed by others long into the future.

Visit our website for more information on local Guides & Outfitters.

Posted in Bears Ears National Monument, Cedar Mesa, National Monuments, Off the Beaten Path, Rock Art, Ruins, Things to do with kids, Tours/Guided Trips, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Desert Wildflowers

Yucca on Cedar Mesa- San Juan County, UT

Yucca- Cedar Mesa- San Juan County, UT

No matter where you live, I think everyone loves spring.  The snow finally melts, it starts to warm up, the flowers start blooming… But of all the places I’ve lived, the desert is definitely my favorite for enjoying wildflowers.  I think the fact that the desert can seem so desolate and dry makes you appreciate the flowers all the more.

Here are some common flowers you’ll see in the desert of Southeastern Utah:

Cedar Mesa- San Juan County, UT

Barrel Cactus- Cedar Mesa- San Juan County, UT

Evening Primrose- Cedar Mesa- San Juan County, UT

Evening Primrose- Cedar Mesa- San Juan County, UT

Cedar Mesa- San Juan County, UT

Desert Mallow- Cedar Mesa- San Juan County, UT

Cactus- Cedar Mesa- San Juan County, UT

Prickly Pear Cactus- Cedar Mesa- San Juan County, UT

Mule Canyon Towers- Cedar Mesa- San Juan County, UT

Firecracker Penstemon- Cave Towers- Cedar Mesa- San Juan County, UT

Cedar Mesa- San Juan County, UT

Cushion Buckwheat- Cedar Mesa- San Juan County, UT

Indian Paintbrush- Cedar Mesa- San Juan County, UT

Indian Paintbrush- Cedar Mesa- San Juan County, UT

Showy Stoneseed- Cedar Mesa- San Juan County, UT

Showy Stoneseed- Cedar Mesa- San Juan County, UT

There are many more, but these are just a few that I’ve seen on my adventures!

For more information or to request a San Juan County travel guide, please visit our website or call:

800-574-4386

Or e-mail us at: info@utahscanyoncountry.com

Posted in Flowers, Travel, Utah | Tagged | Leave a comment

23rd Annual Bluff International Balloon Festival

Glow-in at the Bluff International Balloon Festival- Bluff, UT

The Bluff International Balloon Festival is back! After being cancelled in 2021 due to COVID precautions, the festival is returning January 14th-16th, 2022 for it’s 23rd year! The festival will follow the usual schedule with balloons flying over Bluff Friday & Saturday mornings, then head south to fly over Valley of the Gods on Sunday morning.

Glow-in at the Bluff International Balloon Festival- Bluff, UT

One of my favorite parts of the balloon festival is the Glow-in, which is always held Saturday evening at dusk. The balloons inflate, but stay on the ground, lighting up against the night sky, which is such an amazing thing to get to see up close! It’s always cool to get to see hot air balloons in the sky, but to get to stand right next to an inflated balloon lighting up in the dark is nothing short of magical! Even though I go to the Glow-in almost every year, I am always a little awestruck each year at the size of the balloons- you really have no idea how huge they are until you’re standing right beside them!

Glow-in at the Bluff International Balloon Festival- Bluff, UT

Living in Monticello, which is about 45 minutes north of Bluff, I’ve found that we go to the morning events when the balloons fly over Bluff and Valley of the Gods much less frequently now that we have a child, (since it’s so early in the morning, and would require leaving our house at about 6:00am) but we go to the Glow-in almost every year now, and since it starts at about 5:30pm, it’s at a much better time for families with young children if you have to drive to get there. However, if you’re planning to visit the area to attend the Bluff Balloon Festival, there are quite a few lodging options right in Bluff. Here’s a LINK to the Bluff lodging listings on our website.

There are a couple different places that you can experience the Glow-in from. If you want to get up close to the balloons, I’d recommend starting at the Bluff Community Center where you can watch the balloons inflate from just feet away. One really fun thing for the kids about viewing the balloons up close is that many of the pilots have trading cards with photos of their balloons that they will hand out to kids, or anyone else who wants one. They make great souvenirs!

Or, if you’re looking for more of a bird’s eye view, you can drive up on Cemetery Hill and watch them from above. Either way, it’s a great photo opportunity and I promise you will be glad you came!

Glow-in at the Bluff International Balloon Festival- Bluff, UT

With COVID still on-going, events that have traditionally been held indoors, such as the daily pilot briefings and the Chili & Ice Cream Social will be held outdoors. Some festival events are still being finalized, so be sure to follow Bluff International Balloon Festival on Facebook for updates on event details.

For more information on what you can see and do during the daytime events at the Balloon Festival, check out our previous blog posts:

For more information or to request travel brochures, please call Utah’s Canyon Country at:

800-574-4386

Or e-mail us at: info@utahscanyoncountry.com

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