Spring Time in the Desert

If you've never been to the desert you need to drop everything you're doing and head there immediately! Southern Utah is the epicenter of desert fun and this past spring's trip was no exception.

Photos here were taken around Moab and Zion, Utah

We ventured out east along highway 50- known as the Loneliest Road in America- for about 9 hours, winding our way through deep red canyons and past long stretches of empty land. We preferred this drive to the busy highway 80 just north. A friends wedding was the motivation for this trip but the insanely beautiful scenery and the climbing we did along the way is what truly made the journey worth it.

I had spent some time in Moab over the years, taking weekend trips from Alta to escape the winter. Even during winter months, this desert playground is bustling with activity and people. This trip was no exception, apart from the fact that I had never been there in the Spring. The wild flowers were just blooming as we arrived, giving the deep red of the mountains a little color for contrast.

 

  

The month was June and the heat was in full swing. The wedding location offered little shade and kept us in the cool water of the Colorado River most days. We climbed in the shade as much as possible, changing locations when need be to chase the shadows.

To escape the hot temps, we headed to higher ground toward the middle of the trip, seeking solace in the mountains of the La Sal Range. This was my first time here and hopefully not my last.  Snow coated the ground and the air chilled about 4o degrees from the valley floor. The flora and fauna here were very different from the desert landscape that surrounded us. We found a small hut at the top of a long mountain bike trail, that seemed very popular among locals and visitors alike. With sweeping views of the canyons and towers below, it made for the perfect local for a beer and a snack.


Storms rolled into the area and pushed us out toward Zion as we began a slow journey toward home. Assuming June would still be considered "off-season" for the park we had no doubt or worry of finding a place to camp for the night. After rolling in around 3pm we realized we were very wrong. Every spot of the quite sizable campground was taken. After speaking with the camp host we found out that people lined up at 8am every morning, in the hopes to snag one of these desirable camp sites. We circled three times, closely examining each and every site's occupancy dates. On our fourth time around by some miracle we spotted and empty site. We rushed out of the car to find the site's reservation card had been removed. Someone's plans had changed, and to our benefit! That feeling you get after driving hours and not finding a place to rest your head is the worst. But on the tail side of that- the feeling you get once you realize you still have some luck, and something pulls through for you, is definitely the best!

The climbing in Zion was by far my favorite of the trip. Giant sandstone walls create this feeling that you are enclosed in a big red bubble, and whatever lies beyond doesn't come into thought until you leave. The park made the decision to close off it's main canyon to unauthorized cars during the busy season, forcing you to take a shuttle if you wish to explore it. Many of the areas that we climbed were hidden nooks high above the busy park visitor's normal hiking routes. Looking out into Zion with its bustling tour groups, motorcyclists and nature photographers felt like another world from the peace and quite we experienced high above the trees on the clean sandstone walls.