International Dark Sky Week 2017

Tents with Milky Way in Canyonlands NP- Emily Ogden

San Juan County, UT is proud to be home to FOUR International Dark Sky Parks! (Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, Hovenweep National Monument, and Natural Bridges National Monument)  What better place to celebrate International Dark Sky Week than right here in Utah’s Canyon Country?!

San Juan County offers some of the darkest night skies in the contiguous 48 states.  It’s possible to see over 15,000 stars throughout the night, whereas in many urban areas it’s only possible to see around 500.  Living here, I think we sometimes forget how lucky we are to live in a place where the Milky Way is visible to the naked eye from our backyards- that’s definitely not the case everywhere!

In 2007 Natural Bridges National Monument was designated the world’s first International Dark Sky Park and is well known by night sky enthusiasts for its almost perfect lack of light pollution.  Since its designation, three other San Juan County Parks & Monuments have also been named as International Dark Sky Parks; Hovenweep National Monument in 2014, Canyonlands National Park in 2015, and most recently, Dead Horse Point State Park in 2016.

Canyonlands, Hovenweep, & Natural Bridges all hold regularly scheduled ranger-led Night Sky Astronomy Programs throughout the summer.  Please check each park’s website for more information on dates & times.

Milky Way Over Chesler Park- Canyonlands NP- Emily Ogden

Milky Way Over Hovenweep Nat. Monument- Jacob W. Frank

Owachomo Bridge- Natural Bridges Nat. Monument- Jacob W. Frank

Owachomo Bridge- Natural Bridges Nat. Monument- Jacob W. Frank

While International Dark Sky Week ends this Friday, our dark skies are here year-round!  Whenever you happen to visit our area, be sure to take the time to step outside and look up at our gorgeous night sky- it just might be the highlight of your trip!

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

 

Posted in Canyonlands, Canyonlands National Park, Evening Programs, National Monuments, National Parks, National Parks & Monuments, Things to do for FREE!, Things to do with kids, Travel, Utah | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Back Room Tour at Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum

Wooden Bird & Fur Wrapped Yucca Cordage – Edge of the Cedars Back Room Tour – Blanding, UT

A few weeks ago I got to go on one of the coolest tours ever- a back room tour of Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum!  If you follow my blog, you’ll remember the trip out to Arch Canyon Overlook and Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures that I organized for our county visitor center staff back in November… I’ve been wanting to make these familiarization tours a regular thing for quite a while now, and so for our second outing I contacted Chris Hanson, the director of Edge of the Cedars, who put me in touch with Jonathan Till, the curator of collections, who was extremely accommodating and more than happy to take our group on a tour of their repository.

Edge of the Cedars is made up of three parts; the museum, the archaeological site out behind the museum, and the federal repository.  The museum and the ruins are open to the public, but the repository is not, so it was a HUGE treat for all of us to have the opportunity to go behind the scenes and see some of the artifacts that aren’t on display to the public.

San Juan County Visitor Center Staff at Edge of the Cedars for a Back Room Tour – Blanding, UT

I was thrilled to have 23 visitor center staff members take me up on the offer and join us for the tour!  We met at Edge of the Cedars at 10:00am and congregated in the auditorium where we did a round of introductions and were then greeted by Chris and Jonathan.  Jonathan went over a brief history of the museum and told us that this year the museum is celebrating their 50th anniversary of when the land was purchased by the Blanding Chamber of Commerce, and next year will be the 40th anniversary of the museum’s completion and when it opened to the public.  (He told us that they will be having special events to celebrate, so be sure to follow their Facebook page or check the events calendar on their website so you don’t miss out!)

Bluff Fort Staff Exploring Edge of the Cedars State Park – Blanding, UT

Visible Storage at Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum- Blanding, UT

When the time came to start the tour, since space in the back rooms is limited, Jonathan had us break into two groups.  While the first group was taking their tour, the rest of us who would be on the second tour were free to explore the museum and archaeological site out back.

Since the visitor centers are a huge contact point with visitors to our area, my main goal for these outings is to provide opportunities for the staff to get out in the field and become familiarized with San Juan County.  I know that most everyone gets out on their own, but for those who are newer to the area, or maybe haven’t visited some of these places in a long time, hopefully these outings will help!

My other motivation for these outings, and the reason I’ve limited it to our visitor center staff, is to provide the opportunity for them to get to know each other and build relationships with the staff members at other visitor centers.  I think it’s important for all of us to know each other so that we can reach out when something comes up.  And I feel like this is exactly what we had the chance to do while the first group was on their tour- get to know each other a little as we explored the museum together.

Edge of the Cedars Back Room Tour -Blanding, UT

When it was finally our turn, we excitedly followed Jonathan into the back of the museum.  He gave us the run-down on how the museum is set up before leading us into the ‘Sensitive Collection’ room.  The room was filled with shelves and cabinets, and as Jonathan started opening drawers and we started to catch glimpses of all the artifacts inside, it definitely hit me that this was a really amazing experience, and I felt extremely fortunate to be there!

Beaver Tail Rattle at Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum – Blanding, UT

Jonathan showed us so many amazing artifacts, I don’t even know where to start!  One of my favorites was definitely the Beaver Tail Rattle in the photo above.  I had actually seen it once before- in 2011 my husband and I attended an evening program at Edge of the Cedars called, ‘Back Room Perishables‘ where Dr. Laurie Webster brought out quite a few of the museum’s ‘perishable’ items (made from; wood, bone, animal skin & fur, various fibers, human hair, etc.) to show to the public.

A few of the items really stuck with me, and the beaver tail rattle is one of them.  Rattles are very rare to find in archaeological site in southeast Utah.  This rattle is made from a beaver tail which was folded over and sewn around a stick and was found in Cottonwood Wash near Bluff.  After we had all gotten a good look at it, just before putting it back in the drawer, Jonathan very gently tilted it back and then forward so that we could all hear the rattle.  So amazing!

Human Hair Legging at Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum – Blanding, UT

Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum – Blanding, UT

Twine at Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum – Blanding, UT

Another item that Jonathan showed us that really stood out to me was the bundle of twine in the photo above.  At first glance it may seem very utilitarian and not nearly as impressive as some of the other items we had already seen, but as we were looking at it, it really struck me that something so practical and useful had been preserved all this time.  In my mind, this is something that would have been put to use right away, so to see this perfect, seemingly unused, bundle of twine still rolled up as it may have been when it was made, is absolutely amazing to me!

Woven Sandal at Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum – Blanding, UT

Woven Sandal at Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum – Blanding, UT

Woven Sandal at Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum – Blanding, UT

We also got to see several different styles of sandals in varying stages of completion and wear.  Of course, seeing the pairs that were unfinished makes you wonder why they were never completed.  One of the pairs is extremely detailed and it’s obvious that a lot of time went into making them.  Not only the intricate weaving itself, but the time it took to gather the materials and prepare them for weaving.

Some of the other sandals we saw had obviously been worn and used, and may not have been as fancy as the intricately woven, unfinished pair, but to me the fact that they had been worn and are still here for us to see, made them just as impressive to me.  It really is amazing that so many of these artifacts made out of perishable materials have survived hundreds of years, or more.  And outdoors, no less!  I guess the climate must have to be just right for that to happen, and with the dry climate we have down in this area, it seems that if these items were protected from the elements in caves and alcoves, they had a good chance of surviving!

As the tour wrapped up, I was sorry to see it come to an end!  From the feedback I received, everyone really enjoyed the it and felt very lucky to have had the opportunity to see such amazing artifacts.  Sometimes I think we all get so busy in our daily lives and jobs, even those of us who are involved in the tourism industry sometimes forget what an amazing place we live in.  To be able to see all of these artifacts and to know that most of them came from right here in San Juan County, was a really good reminder of what an amazing place we live in!

Animal Effigy Pitcher – Edge of the Cedars – Blanding, UT

And of course I can never visit Edge of the Cedars without stopping to look at one of my favorite artifacts on display- the animal effigy pitcher in the photo above.  This pitcher is part of a display in the main lobby area of the museum that showcases artifacts that were found by hikers, were left in place, and then reported to Edge of the Cedars or the BLM.  The hikers who found each of the artifacts in this display were then able to return with archaeologists to help with the excavations.  When you visit the museum be sure to stop by and take a look at all the amazing artifacts found by members of the public, and read the stories of their discoveries.

**Archaeological Site Etiquette**

Here’s a really informative video that goes over some basic archaeological site etiquette…  (If you’d like to view the rest of the videos in the ‘Visit With Respect’ series, please click HERE.)

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

 

Posted in Blanding, Edge of the Cedars, Education Centers, Museums, State Parks, Things to do with kids, Tours, Tours/Guided Trips, Travel, Utah | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

National Park Week- April 15th-23rd, 2017

Slickrock Trail- Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

Slickrock Trail- Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

National Park Week starts this Saturday with FREE entrance to all National Parks and Monuments on both the opening, and closing weekends of the 9-day celebration: April 15th & 16th and April 22nd & 23rd.

In addition to being home to one National Park (Canyonlands) and four National Monuments (Hovenweep, Natural Bridges, Rainbow Bridge, and Bears Ears National Monument), San Juan County, Utah is also within about 1 hour of two more National Parks! (Arches and Mesa Verde)

Visiting Utah’s Canyon Country with kids during National Park Week?  Check out the, ‘Things to do with Kids‘ tag on our blog for some ideas on shorter, easier trails for little hikers, and other fun places to take your kids in between the National Parks & Monuments!

Posted in National Monuments, National Parks, National Parks & Monuments, Things to do for FREE!, Things to do with kids, Travel, Utah | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Target Ruin & Ballroom Cave

Target Ruin – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

We always have a week or so of awesome weather in the beginning of March, and this year we were lucky to have just over two straight weeks of warm, sunny days!  On the first weekend of our stretch of nice weather, it got up to about 60 degrees in Monticello, which meant it was at least 5-10 degrees warmer everywhere else around us!    My family had  been out of town the previous week, and after returning home, the only thing I could think about the rest of the week was making it to the weekend so that I’d have a full day to just clean, put things away, and get our house back in order, but when we saw that the weather was going to be that nice, we couldn’t not get out to take advantage of it!  So at the expense of a clean, organized house, we decided to head out to Cedar Mesa (part of the newly designated Bears Ears National Monument) for a hike.

We decided to go with some friends who also live in Monticello.  They have a 3 year old and a 1 year old, and my son is now 4 1/2 years old, so we had 3 little ones with us on the trail that day.  At one point I think the four of us parents seriously questioned whether we’d actually make it out of the parking area and onto the trail at all.  Of course, it didn’t help that as we were lathering ourselves and our kids up with sunscreen, packing lunches, snacks, & water, putting kids in child carriers, etc., we watched another vehicle with 4 or 5 adults in it (no kids) pull up, everyone got out, they took about 3-4 minutes to grab backpacks, and they were on the trail.

I remember asking my husband and our friends if they remembered when hiking was that easy… I can’t remember what everyone’s answers were, but I do know that question came up several more times throughout the day as we did our best to keep our little ones entertained and happy as we attempted to make it down the trail.

Steepest part of the trail on the hike to Target Ruin – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

The last few steps before Target Ruin came into view – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

The main trail is relatively flat, which is great for hiking with kids, but each of the spur trails that branch off leading to Target Ruin and Ballroom Cave are very steep.  But wouldn’t you know it, after my son had wanted to be on my husband’s shoulders from the second we left the parking area, those were the parts of the trail that the kids wanted to walk themselves!  Sometimes they had to get down on all fours, but they both made it, which I think is great for such little kids!

Target Ruin – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

After making it up the steep part of the trail, you descend a little bit right as you come to the ruin.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve seen so many ruins, that it takes a lot to really impress me, but I was definitely impressed with this one!  It’s an amazing ruin!   It looks like it’s in pristine condition, and I’m sure the fact that it’s located up high in an alcove that’s not easy to reach helps a lot.

Target Ruin – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

Not only was the ruin itself amazing, but the location was perfect for kids.  Target Ruin is located in the end of a little canyon that’s mostly open slickrock with a few little potholes filled with water, (they had water when we were there anyway) so it was the perfect place to sit down for lunch and let the kids play.

I had to laugh a little bit when we decided that this would be our lunch place since it’s only about 1 mile down the trail!  But again, this goes back to the hiking with kids thing- we got a later start than we had planned, we had an unexpected kid-related emergency stop on the drive there, (I won’t even go into that!) it took forever to get packed up at the trail head, and it was pretty slow going on the trail.  I think my husband and I have accepted the fact that our old way of hiking (8-10 mile hike every weekend) is a thing of the past.  For now anyway… I’m hopeful that we can slowly work up to that in the next several years.

Pictograph at Target Ruin – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

We all finished our lunches and a few of us climbed up the rocky area on the southwest side of the ruin to try to get a look at the namesake pictograph- a target painted on the side of one of the structures just inside the outer wall.  You can’t see it when you’re standing on the ground looking up at the ruin, but once you climb up that rocky area, you are pretty much eye level with the ruin, if not a little higher, so you can then see about half of the target pictograph.  (In the photo above you can see the target on the side of the structure with logs sticking out of the roof)

Metates at Target Ruin – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

Pictographs at Target Ruin – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

Once you’ve climbed the rocky area, you can see that there’s a small alcove up there with some rock art, ruins, and a couple metates as well.  I didn’t see it at first, but my husband pointed out a couple target petroglyphs on the wall of the alcove, so it seems that there was some kind of significance with the target symbol at that site.

Target Ruin – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

Handprint Pictographs at Target Ruin – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

After climbing back down I walked over so that I was just under the ruin, and on the wall beneath it and just to the left (south west) a few more pictographs were visible including the handprint pictographs in the photo above.

I really liked the angle from just under the ruin, and tried to take my son’s picture there, but as you can see- he wasn’t very cooperative.  (This should give you a good feel for his cooperation level, or lack there of, that day)  With kids you just never know what you’re going to get!  Some days he’s an awesome, cooperative, independent hiker, and some days… not so much!

Hiking between Target Ruin & Ballroom Cave – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

Yucca near Target Ruin – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

Hiking to Ballroom Cave – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

Ballroom Cave – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

We made it back to the main trail and continued on another 1/4 mile or so before we came to Ballroom Cave.  You really can’t see much more than an alcove from the trail, and even as you get closer you still can’t see the caves.  It’s not until you’re actually inside the alcove at the very top, that you are finally able to see that there are two caves up there, and one of them is HUGE.

Looking back down the canyon from Ballroom Cave – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

Rock Art at Ballroom Cave – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

Corn Cobs at Ballroom Cave – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

The larger cave is on the left (south) side of the alcove, and it’s a little hard to get to due to all the loose rock that has fallen from the ceiling of the alcove. Once you climb up and over the pile of rocks, you can finally start to see how big the cave is.

Exploring Ballroom Cave – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

The back parts of the cave were really dark.  The photo above really doesn’t show how dark it was, but if you look at how close the kids are standing to my husband, that should be an indication that it was dark enough that they were scared to go too far by themselves.  🙂

Ballroom Cave – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

Ballroom Cave – Bears Ears National Monument – San Juan County, UT

The kids had so much fun exploring the cave!  It was really nice and cool in there, so I can only imagine how good it would feel to be able to take a break in there on a hot day.  All of us had been to the cave before, but my husband and I hadn’t been there since before our son was born, so it had been at least 4.5 years, (although I think we did that hike soon after moving to Utah, so it was probably closer to 7 or 8 years ago) and we almost felt like we were seeing it for the first time.  This hike has definitely made my Top 10 list- at only 2.5 miles round trip (or only about 2 miles if you just visit Target Ruin) it’s the perfect length for hiking with kids or anyone who only has time for a quick hike.

**Archaeological Site Etiquette**

As always, I want to remind readers to please be respectful when visiting our archaeological sites. Please refrain from touching or entering ruins, if hiking with your dog, please don’t let it enter ruins, and please leave any artifacts you may come across where they are.  Something as simple as picking up a pottery sherd and moving it, takes that artifact out of context and archaeologists are no longer able to get the information from it that they would have been able to, had it been left in place.

Here’s a really informative video that goes over some basic archaeological site etiquette…  (If you’d like to view the rest of the videos in the ‘Visit With Respect’ series, please click HERE.)

 

Directions:

From Blanding: Head south on Hwy 191 for 4 miles and turn right (west) on Hwy 95 toward Natural Bridges National Monument & Hanksville.  Continue on Hwy 95 for approximately 10.5 miles until you see a pullout on the right side of the road near the sign for the Butler Wash Ruins.  The trailhead is located at this pullout.  (If you reach the turnoff for the Butler Wash Ruins you’ve gone too far!)

 

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

 

Posted in Blanding, Hiking, National Monuments, Rock Art, Ruins, Things to do for FREE!, Things to do with kids, Travel, Utah | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Canyonlands Lodging- Cabin & Vacation Home Rentals

Canyonlands Lodging - Canyon View Cabin

Canyonlands Lodging – Canyon View Cabin

Short term vacation rentals seem to be growing in popularity at an extremely fast rate these past few years, and Canyonlands Lodging has gotten in on the game in a big way in San Juan & Grand counties.  Canyonlands Lodging owns and/or manages over 50 properties from Moab down to south of Blanding, which offer a great alternative to traditional hotels & motels.

There are many reasons that people may search for alternative lodging; traveling or meeting up with a large group, traveling with pets or horses, desire to cook your own meals, etc.  Or in the case of my family, the NEED to be able to cook our own food due to my son’s multiple & severe food allergies.  When we travel, if we’re going to be staying somewhere more than just a night or two, we MUST have accommodations with a full kitchen, so that leaves us looking for either extended stay type hotels with kitchens, or short term house or apartment rentals.  Whatever people’s reasons are for seeking out short term rentals, I’m grateful that there are as many options out there as there are!

Right before Christmas Jerry Murdock, the owner of Canyonlands Lodging- took me out and gave me a tour of some of the properties they own and manage.  I’ve been looking at pictures of the cabins on their website for years, but it was great to get out and take a look at them in person.  They have a few new cabins and homes that have recently been added to their website too, although we couldn’t visit all of them since some were occupied the day we went out and some where already closed up for the winter.  Plus, there are about 50 of them!  Way too many for a one day outing!  But I was totally impressed with the ones we did see, and wanted to share some of my photos on my blog…

Entryway to Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello- UT

Entryway to Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello- UT

Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

I missed taking a photo of the large ranch style sign that marks the entrance to the property, but luckily Jerry was able to send me one to include in my write-up.  Just after you pass under it, you’ll come to the sign above which will point you in the direction of whichever cabin you’re looking for.

Coyote on the road to Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Coyote on the road to Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Before we’d even reached the first cabin, we spotted a coyote in the road in front of us.  It was quite a ways away, so I had to zoom in as far as I could with my camera, but it was still very exciting to see!  If it was exciting to those of us who live out here and are no strangers to wild animals, I can only imagine how excited some of our visitors must be to get to see animals like this during their stay!

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Our fist stop was the White Pine Cabin– a cute little 1 bedroom cabin with a loft that sleeps up to 6 people.

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

White Pine Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

You’ll notice in the photos above that the cabin was fully decked out for Christmas- it turned out that all the cabins were.  I’ve stayed at short term rental houses with my family many times over the holidays and it’s such a nice, and appreciated touch to have holiday decorations up when you’re away from home!

Ranch Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Ranch Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Next up was the Ranch Cabin– a 2 bedroom cabin with a loft that sleeps up to 10 people.

Ranch Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Ranch Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Ranch Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Ranch Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Ranch Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Ranch Cabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

This cabin was occupied so I didn’t get to take any photos inside, but I’ve borrowed a few off the Canyonlands Lodging website.  As you can see, it’s gorgeous.  I think this might have been one of my favorites.  I love the huge loft with 3 queen mattresses!  I envision staying there with friends or family and letting all the kids sleep up in the loft together.  How much fun would that be?!

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

The next cabin was the largest that we visited- the Canyon View Family Lodge, which has 3 bedrooms and sleeps up to 12 people.

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

One of my favorite things in the Canyon View Family Lodge, had to have been the bathroom in the master bedroom that was made to look like an outhouse!

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello- UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Canyon View Family Lodge Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello- UT

Canyon View Family Lodge- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

The Canyon View Family Lodge is absolutely beautiful and has all the western touches that I know so many visitors to our area love; saddles made into wall art, log bed frames, and the outhouse bathroom in the master just to name a few!

Africabin - Canyonlands Lodging

Africabin – Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

The Africabin, which has 2 bedrooms & a spacious loft (sleeps 8 total) was another of my favorites… The clever name for this cabin is a combination of ‘Africa’ & ‘Cabin’, which is exactly what you get when you step inside!  From the moment you walk in the door, you’re surrounded by authentic African art collected by the owners during the time they lived in Africa.

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Step out the back door and you’ll find yourself on the covered back deck which serves as a relaxing breakfast nook overlooking the surrounding canyons and forest.  And just below that is the firepit & BBQ set up and ready for an evening of relaxing around the fire and stargazing in one of the darkest places in the contiguous 48 states!

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

Africabin- Canyonlands Lodging- Monticello, UT

They manage way too many homes & cabins to be included in just one blog entry, but you can look at photos and details for all of them on their website.  If you’re planning a visit to southeastern Utah, and are looking for alternative lodging options in the Moab, Monticello, or Blanding areas, check out the Canyonlands Lodging website and see if they have a home or cabin that meets your needs!

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

Posted in Blanding, Lodging, Monticello, Travel, Utah | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees

2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees - Veteran's Park -Monticello, UT

2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees – Veteran’s Park -Monticello, UT

This past weekend was the Monticello Festival of the Trees and it was bigger and better than ever!  I volunteered to do a tree for our office again this year, and it was much faster and easier (and cheaper!) this time since I saved all the ornaments I bought and made last year.

San Juan County Economic Development & Visitor Services Tree at the 2015 Monticello Tree Lighting

San Juan County Economic Development & Visitor Services Tree at the 2015 Monticello Tree Lighting

Last year, it was really just trees set up in Pioneer Park for the month of December, but there wasn’t really a community gathering that went along with it- everyone just set their trees up on their own time, and people came to look at them throughout the month.  But this year the city moved the event to Veteran’s Park and put the trees under the pavilion, which I really like since the trees kept blowing over last year and we’d have to trudge through the snow to get to them to try to right them again.

2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees - Monticello, UT

2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees – Monticello, UT

2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees - Monticello, UT

2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees – Monticello, UT

Rough siding was put up on the pavilion which gives it kind of a rustic log cabin feel, and they also decorated the outside with boughs and pine cones which really added to the holiday atmosphere.

The festival was held on Saturday, and my family had gone to Moab that morning, but we raced back so that I could set up the tree for my office before the festival started at 6:00pm.  I’m not sure if it was because we had spent the morning in Moab and it had been slightly warmer there, but when we came back and unloaded the tree off the top of our car and took it to the pavilion to set it up, it was FREEZING! After only about 10 minutes, I could barely feel my hands anymore!  After we got the tree in the stand we drove home, I put on about 3-4 layers of clothing and bundled my son up in his snowsuit, coat, hat, scarf, and mittens, and we returned to the park so I could decorate the tree while he played at the playground.

Since the tree I decorated is for the San Juan County Economic Development & Visitor Services office, last year I came up with the idea of buying postcards with pictures of the parks, monuments, & attractions in our county and laminating them.  I wanted something that could withstand the elements since they’d be outside for a month.

It was really cold outside, but I was doing fine until it came time to tie the ribbons on all the postcards.  I had to take my gloves off to do it, and my hands were so cold, I could barely get them to tie a knot, let alone 20 knots to hang up all the postcards!  It was almost as if I was watching someone else’s hands work- it was really weird!  But of course, I survived and got the tree done with 45 minutes to spare (I was definitely the last to get my tree done that day!)

I have to admit, after spending just 30 minutes or so decorating my tree, I was a little concerned about how cold it was going to be almost an hour later when the sun was completely down and the festival was starting.  But after running home and feeding my son dinner, we bundled back up and braved the cold again!

Santa's chair at the 2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees

Santa’s chair at the 2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees

Waiting for Santa at the 2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees

Waiting for Santa at the 2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees

When we arrived just a couple minutes after 6:00pm, I couldn’t believe how many people were already there!  Events around here are sometimes not very well attended, but this one had a great turnout!  I would guess that over the course of the evening there were probably around 200 people that came, which is definitely a successful event for Monticello.

Santa's Sleigh at the 2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees (photo: Min*Designs

Santa’s Sleigh at the 2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees (photo: Melinda Redd)

After the opening welcome, the crowd cheered and chanted, ‘Santa! Santa!’ as a sleigh all lit up with Christmas lights pulled up to the pavilion and Santa jumped out and made his way to his seat of honor.  Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of Santa- there were SO many kids there, I couldn’t even get close to where he was!  (My son had already seen Santa in Moab that morning, so he had no interest in waiting in line to sit on his lap again.)  Luckily a friend of mine snapped this photo of his sleigh!

2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees - Veteran's Park -Monticello, UT

2016 Monticello Festival of the Trees – Veteran’s Park -Monticello, UT

Yes, I’m posting this photo of the food table twice- it was that good!  There were homemade gingersnap cookies & donut holes, oranges, candy canes, and hot chocolate & mini marshmallows, plus graham crackers more marshmallows for roasting over the two fire pits they had set up outside the pavilion.  It was quite an elaborate spread and it was all free to the public!

Now to the trees…

The trees looked great and the evening couldn’t have been any better! (Unless of course it could have been 15-20 degrees warmer!)  It was so nice to see all the community involvement that went into it- from the local businesses who decorated trees for the event, all the work put in by the city employees and volunteers coordinating and setting everything up, and of course we can’t forget about everyone who braved the cold to come!

The trees will be set up in the pavilion at Veteran’s Park through December, so be sure to stop by and take a look- evening is the best time since they will be lit up!

Search for Santas Scavenger Hunt

Search for Santas Scavenger Hunt

In conjunction with the Festival of the Trees, two other holiday themed events are taking place around town for the next couple weeks; a Gingerbread House Tour at thirteen Monticello businesses, and a Christmas scavenger hunt- ‘Search for Santas’ is taking place in Pioneer & Veteran’s Parks.

For the Search for Santas scavenger hunt, there are nine sets of Santas to find, each with ‘Merry Christmas’ written on them in different languages.  To participate, pick up a flyer at any of the Gingerbread House Tour locations (Conoco/Subway, Zions Bank, Wells Fargo, San Juan Record, Monticello Mercantile, Unique Creations, Mimi’s Thrift Emporium, Main Street Drug & Boutique, Artisan Jewelers, Southeast Utah Welcome Center, Thatzza Pizza, Mission Discovery School, or Horse Head Grill) and list the languages that each of the Christmas wishes are in & the parks where you found each group of Santas.

After completing the scavenger hunt, (you only need to find 8 of the 9 groups of Santas) take your flyer to any of the Gingerbread House Tour locations for a prize!  I’m planning to take my son to do it in the next few afternoons as we have time.  I think it’s going to be a lot of fun!  Who doesn’t like a good scavenger hunt?! Especially scavenger hunts with prizes at the end!

Gingerbread House on Display at Artisan Jewelers in Monticello (photo: Melinda Redd)

Gingerbread House on Display at Artisan Jewelers in Monticello (photo: Melinda Redd)

To participate in the Gingerbread House Tour, stop in at any of the businesses listed above and pick up a ballot.  As you make your way around town, be sure to get your ballot initialed at each location and cast a vote for your favorite gingerbread house!  Turn in your ballot at any of the participating businesses to be entered into the multiple-prize drawing that will be held at Artisan Jewelers at 6:00pm on Saturday, December 17th.

The Gingerbread Houses are also being auctioned off with all proceeds going to the local Food Bank and/or Toy Drive.  So if you see one you would like to take home, don’t hesitate to bid on it- it’s for a great cause!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Events, Monticello, Things to do for FREE!, Things to do with kids, Travel, Utah | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Arch Canyon Overlook & Cave Tower Ruins Tour with Four Corners Adventures

Arch Canyon Overlook- Four Corners Adventures Tour

Arch Canyon Overlook- Four Corners Adventures Tour

It’s been over a year now since I first contacted Four Corners Adventures in Blanding, asking about the possibility of doing a mini familiarization tour out on Cedar Mesa for our Monticello, Blanding, and Bluff Fort visitor center staff.  We e-mailed back and forth several times going over details and prices, but unfortunately with a group as large as we were looking at (up to 20-25 people) the trip was just too expensive for my office to cover it, especially as late in the year as it was.  But I always kept the idea in the back of my head hoping that somehow we’d be able to figure out a way to make it work.

About 3 weeks ago Jared Berrett, the owner of Four Corners Adventures, e-mailed me saying that he had some free time coming up in his schedule and he offered to do a tour out to Arch Canyon Overlook & Cave Tower Ruins for our visitor center staff free of charge.  I was ecstatic about his offer, and we spent the next week or so e-mailing back and forth figuring out the details & coordinating with our visitor center staff.

First snow in Monticello in 2016

First snow in Monticello in 2016

Now I want to mention that we’ve been having a gorgeous, unseasonably warm fall.  This is my 8th fall in Monticello and I don’t think we’ve ever made it to the week before Thanksgiving without snow before, but this year has been incredible.  I was wearing sandals and T-shirts up until two days before the tour!  BUT, as luck would have it, the forecast for the the day of our tour was snow.  I kept thinking that it was possible that it wouldn’t actually hit us, but I’m pretty sure that deep down I actually knew that we were going to get snow, and it was just wishful thinking.  I woke up the morning of the tour to a light drift snow on the ground, and by the time I left for work at 8:00am, it was snowing again and I couldn’t even see across the back parking lot from my office window.

I put in a quick call to Four Corners Adventures’ store in Blanding to ask if the trip was still on.  Dallin, their General Manager, answered and said that they had gotten a little bit of snow, but it didn’t sound nearly as bad as what we had (they’re almost 1,000 ft lower in elevation than Monticello) and they could actually see some patches of blue sky to the south, so the trip was still on!  I told them the roads here were covered, so we might be a little late, but we’d be there and to not leave without us!

First snow in Monticello in 2016

Our tour group getting ready to head out with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

My coworker and I picked up the two employees from the Monticello Visitor Center who were joining us on the tour, and slowly made our way down the snow-covered roads to Blanding.  When we arrived at the Four Corners Adventures store right across from the Blanding Visitor Center, everyone else was already there and they were in the middle of going around the circle doing introductions.  After everyone had introduced themselves we loaded up in their two vans, and hit the road.

Great interpretive information on the drive to Arch Canyon Overlook from our guide, Jared- owner of Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Great interpretive information on the drive to Arch Canyon Overlook from our guide, Jared- owner of Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

On the ride out I was in Jared’s van, and he gave us a lot of great interpretive information on the drive.  We had 3 people from Utah.com who were able to join us on the tour, so I think it was especially informative for them since they’re not from the area.  He gave a rough timeline of when the San Juan County area was inhabited by the Ancestral Puebloan people, (approx. 700-1300AD) and he pointed out ruins that were visible from the road and trailheads to popular ruins as we passed them.

I always love getting to go out with our guides- after living in San Juan County for 7.5 years I’ve been to quite a few places in this area, but there’s still LOTS I haven’t seen.  I think you could live here your whole life and never see it all, but I intend to put as much of a dent in it as I can, as long as I’m here!

As much as I’ve seen on my own, going out with a guide is a whole different experience.  For example, I’ve gone on guided trips to Monument Valley & Mystery Valley with Goulding’s, Rafting on the San Juan River with Wild Rivers Expeditions, canyoneering in Leprechaun Canyon with North Wash Outfitters, taken side-by-sides to River House Ruin & Butler Petroglyph Panel with Four Corners Adventures, and now, out to Arch Canyon Overlook & Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures.  Of the 5 trips I’ve been on with guides, I’d been to 4 of the locations with my husband previously, but I still learned SO much each time I went out with a guide.

If you’re visiting a place for the first time and you’re with a guide, of course you’re going to learn a lot!  But even when you’ve been there previously, when you go with someone else you get to hear them talk about it from their perspective and you always learn something new.  Most importantly though in my mind, is getting to experience a trip led by one of our local guides, which is invaluable to any of us working in the tourism industry- we now have first-hand experience that we’re able to share with our visitors.  You can hear about something your whole life and repeat that information to others, but nothing compares to getting to experience it for yourself first hand.  I think the excitement of getting to share your own experience with others really resonates with them- they can feel your excitement and they become excited about it too- that’s why I think first hand experiences are priceless.

Arch Canyon Overlook with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Arch Canyon Overlook with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

The van ride went by really fast and before we knew it, we had pulled up to Arch Canyon Overlook and everyone piled out of the vehicles.  It was snowing lightly and we could see another flurry working it’s way toward us from the south, so we knew that our time to take in the view and get photos might be limited.  We all walked along the rim and then made our way out to the point via a narrow metal staircase/ramp.

Arch Canyon Overlook with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Arch Canyon Overlook with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

I’ve been out there one other time, and it’s only been a year since my visit, but I was still just as much in awe of the view as I was on my first visit.  San Juan County is such an unbelievably beautiful place- even after 7.5 years the beauty of this place continues to blow my mind!  And although it was cold, windy, & snowy I was so excited to be out there to get to see it lightly blanketed with the first snow of the season!  As I mentioned to some of the others on the tour- I never would have taken my own vehicle out there on a day like that, so it was definitely a treat to be out there in the snow!

Arch Canyon Overlook with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT Photo: Four Corners Adventures

Arch Canyon Overlook with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT.  Photo: Four Corners Adventures

Before we headed back to the vans Jared took a group photo with everyone who was still out on the point.  (I think the photo above is about 2/3 of our group) Glad he thought to take the photo- usually I’m very good about doing it, but I completely spaced it that day.  Chalk one up for going with a guide!

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Our next stop was Cave Tower Ruins- pretty much across the highway from our turn for Arch Canyon Overlook.  One really nice thing about Cave Tower Ruins (also called Seven Tower Ruins) is that it is one of the few easily accessible ruins that you can pretty much drive right up to and there really isn’t a hike involved.  This is great for individuals with mobility issues who otherwise may not be able get out and see ruins like these.

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

We walked up to the edge of the rim and Jared pointed out the ruins- we could see the remains of 5 towers from where we were standing, and if you walk along the rim you can easily find the remains of the other two.  Jared also pointed out a ruin that I had never noticed, even though I’ve probably been there 5-6 times.  As you’re walking up toward the largest tower still standing, you can see what looks like the outline of a square or rectangular shaped ruin.  There really isn’t a rubble pile remaining, so it’s not as obvious as the towers, but there was definitely some kind of square structure there at one time.  (See what I mean about how you always learn something new when you go with a guide!)

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

We all took our time walking along the rim, looking at the ruins, & taking photos.  It was still really cold and windy, but it had really cleared up and turned in to a beautiful day to be out on Cedar Mesa!

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

Cave Tower Ruins with Four Corners Adventures- Blanding, UT

We all made our way back to the vehicles at our own pace, and when I walked up I could see that Dallin was moving one of the vans to make a wind-block for us, and Jared was getting a huge thermos of hot chocolate out of the back of the other van.  What an unexpected treat it was to have hot chocolate to warm ourselves up with on such a cold & windy day! (Not to mention bottled water, granola bars & trail mix that were passed around as well!) Chalk another one up for the guides!

These extra touches, like hot chocolate on the first snowy day of the year, are the things that turn a good trip into a great trip!  I think everyone really appreciated the hot chocolate, and for 10 minutes or so we all forgot about the cold and the wind, and happily drank our hot chocolate, snacked on granola bars & trail mix, and stood around chatting and just enjoying being out there with each other.

The day was over too soon- I would have happily stayed out there all day!  But I’m really happy we were able to make it happen and that so many of our visitor center staff were able to come, and I’m extremely grateful to Jared for offering to take us all out.  And more than anything, I’m thrilled that I now have the experience of going on a tour with Jared & Dallin and look forward to being able to share my experience with visitors who are planning their trips to our area!

Four Corners Adventures provides a wide range of guide services including both land based tours, and guided river trips on the San Juan River.  Their land based trips include Jeep, Hummer, Side-by-side, Mt. biking, Backpacking, & Canyoneering trips, and they also rent out jeeps & mt. bikes for people to take out on their own.  Also, in addition to their guided river trips, they rent rafts, canoes, kayaks, SUPs, and a wide variety of gear such as camp stoves, lanterns, water jugs, tents, sleeping bags, dry bags, etc.- pretty much anything you’ll need on the river aside from your own personal items.  They also run vehicle shuttles and pick-ups for rafters on private river trips, AND, as if that wasn’t enough, if you’re looking for a place to stay while you’re in the area, they’ve got you covered with their 2 bedroom rental- The Loft.

**Archaeological Site Etiquette**

As always, I want to remind readers to please be respectful when visiting our archaeological sites. Please refrain from touching or entering ruins, if hiking with your dog, please don’t let it enter ruins, and please leave any artifacts you may come across where they are.  Something as simple as picking up a pottery sherd and moving it, takes that artifact out of context and archaeologists are no longer able to get the information from it that they would have been able to, had it been left in place.

Here’s a really informative video that goes over some basic archaeological site etiquette…  (If you’d like to view the rest of the videos in the ‘Visit With Respect’ series, please click HERE.)

For more information or to request travel brochures, please visit our website or call Utah’s Canyon Country at: 800-574-4386

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

Posted in Blanding, Cedar Mesa, Hiking, Ruins, Things to do for FREE!, Things to do with kids, Tours, Tours/Guided Trips, Travel, Utah, Visitor Centers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments