Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Some Great Geologic Hikes I'll Let You Find

'cause getting there can be half the fun:
(towns referenced can be found on most atlases, with populations large enough to list)

Little Wild Horse Canyon/Bell Canyon (8 mi. loop, 5*)
N of Hanksville, Ut. on BLM land.
Stay hydrated. Very arid, roads impassable when wet.
Lovely narrows in LWHC. Goblin Valley St. Pk. is too cool and nearby.
TRY: www.climb-utah.com/SRS/lwh.htm

Round Valley Draw (4 1/4 mi. round-trip, 4*)
S of Tropic, Ut. in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
A 15 foot drop is involved. We didn't make the descent.
What we saw of the narrows was sweet. See Grosvenor Arch in the area.
TRY: www.americansouthwest.net/slot_canyons/round_valley_draw/canyon.html
http://www..zionnational-park.com/round-valley-draw.htm (use URL)

No Thoroughfare Canyon (8 1/2 miles each way, 3 1/2*)
W of Grand Junction, Co. in Colorado National Monument.
As the name suggests, no trail, follows watercourse. Very long out-and-back day hike, or use shuttle.
A great bushwhack reveals some of the oldest rock on earth.
TRY: www.gjsentinel.com/rec/content/sports/stories/2009/05/04/050309_haggerty_www.html

Pollock Bench (5 1/2 mi. loop, 3 1/2*)
W of Fruita, Co. on BLM land (Black Ridge Wilderness).
This was a five-star mountain bike ride, but now is hiking only, boo hoo.
This whole Colorado River Gorge area is special.
TRY: www.blm.gov/co/st/en/nca/mcnca//recreation/hiking/pollock.html

Crag Crest (10-11 mi. loop, 3 1/2*)
N of Cedaredge, Co. in Grand Mesa National Forest.
Winter-like storms any time of year. Afternoon storm danger.
Good cross-country skiing available.
TRY: www.fs.fed.us/r2/gmug/recreation/trails/grand_mesa/crag_crest.shtml

Spencer Trail (2 1/4 miles each way, 3*)
Near Page, Az. in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
A trudge uphill then down, in an arid environment.
The hike starts at historic Lee's Ferry. Great views at the summit.
TRY: www.toddshikingguide.com/Hikes/Arizona/GrandCanyon/Canyon19.htm

Wheeler Geologic Area (shortest option 17 miles, including WGA loop of 3.2 miles, 3*)
NE of Creede, Co. in Rio Grande National Forest.
Was formerly a National Monument, but was too hard to get to (& grueling as a day trip).
The amphitheater is swell indeed.
TRY: www.summitpost.org/mountain/rock/151493/wheeler-geologic-area.html


Here's 2 additional hikes I don't remember, but I did 'em:
Crack Canyon.TRY: www.climb-utah.com/SRS/crack.htm
The Chute of Muddy Creek. TRY: www.climb-utah.com/SRS/thechute.htm

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

"PERFECT KIVA", (Grand Gulch)

pictured: "Perfect Kiva", Bullet Canyon
article here on Ezine

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pictured: vandalized "Wolfman Petroglyphs"

This area held one of the greatest caches of artifacts in the southwestern United States. Alas, that brought pot hunters. Much of what was saved became (dis)located to museums. Astonishingly, there is still enough in situ that we can still inhale the spirit of the place. Due to the unprotected nature of this Bureau of Land Management land, I'm not going to tell exactly how to get to these places.
The Butler Wash area is very disorienting and rewarding. Here's what I recommend: Stay at the Recapture Lodge in historic Bluff, Utah. Make some friends there. You will be among people with outdoor interests and the owners are very knowledgeable. If they sense sincerity they may help you find these great sites.
It took me 3 tries to find the "Procession Panel"4*. It entails a 6.6 mile drive north up unimproved Butler Wash Rd. (San Juan Co. #262, impassable when wet), which is 4 miles west of town. Then turn 100 yards west to the trail head above Butler Wash. It's then a 1 1/4 mile hike each way to the petroglyph panel.
It took me several tries to find "Eagle's Nest" ruin. Wow, what a testament to paranoia and guts that is!
The hikes into the 2 "bowl" sites are as rewarding as the grand finales.
Although access trails are short to sites, the Butler Wash area is very dangerous. Orientation is difficult and it is very arid. No potable water is available. Be careful and be aware of precise landmarks.
This is a no-fee area unless you take a guide. Please consider a guide if you are not back country savvy. The problems are the "no trail" slickrock and many intersecting wrong turns in the wash. A guided San Juan River trip is the only way to take in the "Desecration Panel".
Monarch Ruins(4*)-Access to the trail 7.2 miles north of Rt. 163 on Butler Wash Rd.
Eagle's Nest Ruins(5*)-Access to the trail 8 miles N of 163 on BWR.
Wolfman Petroglyph Panel(4*)-Access to the trail 1 mile N of 163 on BWR.
Fishbowl Ruins(3*)-Access to the trail 1 mile N of 163 on BWR.
Butler Wash Petroglyph Panel (on the confluence with San Juan River)(5*)-Access to the trail on Rt. 163, just west of the wash. This is simply a 2 mile walk and bushwhack each way, heading south in Butler Wash. Besides the great panel at the end, there are some ruins on the way.
"Airport" Petroglyphs(4*)-Located on the sandstone bluffs facing the San Juan River. Access about 1 mile east of Butler Wash, at the airstrip.

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"PERFECT KIVA", (Slickhorn #1)

Follow the directions for Slickhorn #6 hike, but take the first clearly defined track west (this will be about 4 mi. from the pavement) after bearing south where the Government Trail turnoff goes north. This westbound track (right) takes you to the trail head and primitive campsite at "First Fork" of Slickhorn Canyon.
This kiva is indeed perfect, although the ladder is replicated. Can't have everything. 700 years will do that sometimes.
There is no maintained trail into First Fork, which will head you in a southwesterly direction. 15 minutes brings you to a pour-off which can be detoured to the left via a shallow side canyon. A mile past this easy circumvention there is another pour-off, this one not so easily negotiated. Here, climb to a bench just below the mesa top on the south side of the canyon. Look for cairns. When you are on the bench, look across the main canyon and downstream for a large sandstone monolith. This monolith is your landmark for descending back to the main "First Fork" canyon. Look for cairns again. (If you are short of clues, perhaps Rangers have knocked cairns over. I can't blame them, sorry.) Now, 200 yards downstream from the monolith, look for the trail up to "Perfect Kiva Ruin". You will not see the site from the canyon bottom. IT'S SWEET!
We turned back here, but hiking 1 1/2 miles more down canyon brings you to "Second Fork". There are several small ruins there I heard, including a fine granary.

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"HARVEST SCENE" (Pictograph Loop Trail)

100 photos here.

Like Horseshoe Canyon with "Great Gallery", The Maze District of Canyonlands National Park (fee area) offers great Barrier Canyon style art work in a beautiful mural, via a hike. This too-cool pictograph style is about 2000 years old or more, and it's survival depends on us. Thankfully, not too many vandals will go to the trouble here.
Getting there is half the fun (or torture, depending on your back and butt). Don't even try to access this hike without a high-clearance 4WD vehicle. And then you better know how to handle a CJ or Cherokee well.
Turn east on a dirt road between Hwy. 95 mile marker 46 and 47 into Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. This dirt track is technically Rt. 633 here. In the beginning you will wonder what the problem is for cars, until you get to the Teapot Rock area. Scenic paved Utah Hwy. 95 runs from Blanding to Hanksville, Utah. It is an awesome road in itself. I especially like the White Canyon area heading west from Blanding.
Anyway, it's over 5 hours from the turn off of the pavement to the Chimney Rock campground (primitive) in the Maze, even though it's less than 50 miles. Get your camping permit from the Hans Flat Ranger Station reserved. (We were able to do it by phone.) Believe it or not, park personnel do patrol this most desolate region. You probably will get busted without a permit.
The first 30 miles on the dirt road are easy driving, where you come to a four way junction. Turn right and learn how to drive or get high-centered. DO NOT EXCEED 5MPH IN THE TEAPOT ROCK AREA. You will go from Glen Canyon NRA to Canyonlands NP just after the "Golden Stairs" about 40 miles from Rt. 95. Good news! If you make it this far, you''ll make it to your Chimney Rock campsite (which is the trail head), after passing "The Wall" and "Standing Rock" campsites. All are primitive.
THE HIKE: There are three cairned trails at Chimney Rock campground. Take the left most, continuing to bear left, then descending into a drainage which is Pictograph Fork. After the descent, the walking is easy in a northwesterly direction. The Harvest Scene panel about 1 1/2 hours northwest from camp is the focus. After a good look, continue down canyon (north) about a mile to a large drainage right. You do not want to miss this turn, or you may be in dehydration and/or search party trouble. Eventually the trail will ascend up this drainage on the right side. When you get up on top, you can see Chimney Rock to the right or south, your landmark for camp. Pete's Mesa is left. The route to camp should be cairned on slickrock. This is about a 9 mile loop as described. Allowing time to study the pictograph panel is the main consideration, other than not getting lost. But this one is not too hard to follow. If one can get to the camp site, obviously one is cognizant.
Hey, this baby is a real pain all the way around, and worth the trouble. This hike can not possibly be done without an overnight, primitive camping experience. Don't try to drive around here if it's wet.

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These 200 million plus year old monoliths, of the Moenkopi and Cutler sandstone/mudstone formations, appear to be melting. The tallest, Titan, is 900 feet tall. Perhaps you will see some technical climbers on the hike. (The climbing is expert rated.) The trail is easy to find, on scenic Utah Hwy. 128, which runs from Interstate 70 on the north to Moab on the south. Mile marker 21 is where the 2.2 mile road takes off from 128 to the trailhead. The whole of Hwy. 128 is awesome scenery, with the towers being some of the best of the best. The trail is approximately 4 1/4 miles out and back. It's not too tough, but you will want to allow some sightseeing time. The trail should be well cairned. Nearby sights which can be seen on the hike include the underrated La Sal Mountains and Castle Rock. If you are a John Wayne fan you will recognize Castle Rock from some "oaters". Moab, Utah is about 23 miles from the trail. Be ready to fall in love with this beautiful Colorado River gorge area. DID YOU BRING YOUR BICYCLE PLEASE? It's not allowed on this track, but there is plenty of good riding in this "Mountain Biking Mecca".


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article here on Ezine


If you are claustrophobic, there is no way that you will handle Spooky Gulch narrows (pictured). I was walking sideways and I weigh 150. It is so narrow, locals  say, rattlesnakes drop in from the top, as they cannot sense the chasm. Stick to Dry Fork Coyote Gulch's narrows if you don't like it tight. Nonetheless, Spooky is awesome, if indeed intense. Peek-a-Boo Gulch presents natural bridges (almost immediately from the south end, which is the access here described).
Steve Allen has a nice loop description in his "Canyoneering 3" (hike 19). It includes the southern ends of Spooky and Peek-a-Boo.
It's hot and dry (except when it flash floods) in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Be cautious.
To access this area use the Dry Fork Coyote Road (high-clearance), which is 26 miles south on Hole-in-the-Rock Rd., to the left or easterly. Hole-in-the-Rock begins just east of Escalante, Utah, off of Rt. 12.
The hiking trail begins at the parking area, 1.7 miles down DFC Rd. The trail northeast will be marked, as it is popular. Do not get on the sand dune as you pass right of it. Stay right and descend into the gulch. When the Dry Fork Coyote Gulch is reached, Peek-a-Boo is the first slot on the left, as you travel down canyon, or east in Coyote. A climb up into Peek-a-Boo is required. Spooky is about 15 minutes east of Peek-a-Boo.
Brimstone Gulch is the next slot downstream from Spooky, but we did not explore it. It is difficult, as are the northern reaches of Spooky. Further along yet, past Brimstone, is a side canyon that contains a natural bridge.
Less tight are the narrows of Dry Fork Coyote in the opposite direction (up canyon), where a loop can be made to the parking area by exiting DFC Gulch left and hiking cross country SE to the vehicle.
I have no time designations for the area hiking. When the water is half gone, return to the vehicle. This is more a photographer's playground than a hike. But it is challenging.
Approximate mileages from trail head: Dry Fork Coyote Gulch 1/3 mi., Peek-a-Boo Gulch is a very short walk down canyon, Spooky Gulch additional 1/2 mile dc, Brimstone Gulch additional 1 mile dc.

If you want to see more of Dry Fork Coyote Gulch, use the Red Well Road. It travels east, 30.7 miles south (down) Hole-in-the-Rock Rd. The trail head is 1.3 miles down Red Well Rd. Dry Fork Coyote confluence is left, a half hour down the trail, as it heads east.

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Monday, August 31, 2009


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The Comb Ridge area in the southeast corner of Utah is one of the great areas of archaic riches in this country. Road Canyon, Butler Wash, Fish Creek, Mule Canyon, Comb Wash are a few of the major ruin and rock art areas which directly relied on Comb Ridge in the day. Hovenweep National Monument, Natural Bridges National Monument and Grand Gulch Primitive Area are not far away.
The Arch Canyon ruin lies north of paved Hwy. 95, which is accessed just south of Blanding, Utah. Park at the intersection of that highway and Comb Wash Rd., about 20 miles (west) out of Blanding. Just follow the most main road north for 4 miles to the site. It has good rock art as well as dwellings. Just like "River House Ruin", you can drive here (but don't). The walking is easy here unless there is a little flooding to negotiate at Arch Canyon, just before the ruin, which is on the right side of the road.

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One of my personal favorites, this is the kind of ruin site that makes a person feel as if he discovered it. It entails taking a rustic, remote road to get to it. Then the site seems dark and secretive upon arrival. No one else could have ever found this!
This ruin is unique for it pictograph interpretations of the moon's phases, thus the naming of it. There is also a good snake pictograph to rival the one at "River House Ruin". There are a lot of great original building timbers (ca. 13th. century).
There are several ways to get to this site. I have tried them, and this is the easiest on your vehicle (I take my 4WD Jeep): Turn east off of Hwy 261, which is the main Grand Gulch access road, onto the "Mormon Trail" or Snow Flat Spring Cave Road #237. This access road is 7 miles south of Utah Hwy. 95 off of Rt. 261. After turning off-pavement, take the left fork at 1/2 mile. The worst spot in the road is between the 3 and 3 1/2 mile mark. Parking is on the right at 8.2 miles. Please park here and do not drive the road north at this point. The BLM charges a $2 fee for day hiking. Whatever, if you get caught not paying, I don't know what happens.
Hike the old road north for 1 1/4 miles to the canyon rim. This is McLoyd's Canyon, where the ruin is situated. Then you must find the cairned trail that guides you into the canyon. The trail splits shortly then, the left fork to "Moon House" overlook, the right fork to the ruin. There is a tricky spot at a pour-off, but you can do it, and this thing is worth the trouble. Have a partner though, just in case of trouble. When you pass between two huge boulders, you have reached bottom.
The ruin site will be to the right, across the canyon, and up a jumble of rocks to a slickrock bench. Upon reaching this bench, look for the crack left to the next upper level, where the "Moonie" is located.
Please do not enter the rooms with the moon pictographs. It is incumbent on each of us to protect this site, as there is little administration. Photography is difficult at this ruin. It is dark, and I would recommend a tripod.
The closest towns are Mexican Hat and Bluff, but Blanding has more services.
Though the hike itself is short, exploration time should be long at this great place.

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This guy (or is it a girl?) is worth the trouble of an over-nighter. As a 20 mile out-and-back trek, it's a tough day hike. Along with "Delicate Arch" in Arches National Park, this arch is one of the "quintessentials" in the world. So don't trust pictures. Being there is what it's about. A pleasant hike throughout, (it is sandy and gravelly) it heads south down Salt Creek. This used to be a 4WD track to Angel Arch, but too much damage was done to the environment. The hike now starts at "Peekaboo", a camp and good rock art site.
You will have to pay for privileges at the visitor center of the Needles District, Canyonlands National Park. Be sure to pre-reserve a spot at Angel Arch Camp, which is the closest camp to the arch (1 1/2 mi.), for overnight primitive accommodations. The way is well marked to the park. Take Rt. 211 westbound off of Hwy. 191, north of Monticello, Utah. They will tell you all the cautionary tales at said visitor center. Don't worry, they won't let you proceed unprepared.

There is great stuff further down the creek southbound, all the way to Cathedral Butte. That another story, which is long and multi-day.

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Some refer to this ruin site as "Snake House Ruin". When you see the great pictograph of snake above the ruin, you may agree. This is a long, dry 10 mile round-trip hike from Utah Rt. 163, (about) 7 miles west of the town of Bluff (and just west of Comb Ridge). Between mile marker 37 and 38 on the paved highway, go left (or south) on dirt road San Juan County Rd. 237.
Oh all right lazy, you can drive all the way to the site almost. This is a hiking blog! Either way, don't miss it.
Anyway, at 1.8 miles, look for a cowboy cabin on your right. At 4 miles take the steep uphill trail left. (The straight split here goes to the San Juan River in 1/2 mile.) In a quarter mile now you will cross a cattle guard. Mile 5 reaches the ruin site.
There has been plenty of vandalism and rebuilding going on here. Please be respectful of local heritage and future visitors. Sometimes I wish people couldn't drive to fragile sites. If one has to hike 10 miles to vandalize, that's quite a commitment. I remember this as a hot and sandy walk, requiring much hydrating. We were kind of glad to get a ride part of the way back to our car, parked at the pavement.
Another option for visiting "River House" is by floating the San Juan River. Guides are available in Bluff.
The Butler Wash petroglyph panel is 1 1/2 miles upriver from River House Ruins.

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The Calf Creek Recreation Area (fee area), located in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, hosts this 125 foot gem (pictured). It's a 3 mile, relatively easy hike, meandering up Calf Creek, to the beautiful lower falls. The rec. area is located on Rt. 12, nearly equidistant between Boulder and Escalante, Utah. The park offers a brochure on the trail, if wanted. At the end of the hike you may dip in the cascade's pool. There are remnants of ancient Indian occupation to see, as a bonus.

There is also an upper falls trail available off of scenic Rt. 12, near milepost 81. If you can't find it, just ask around. Not as dramatic as the lower, the advantage is IT'S FREE. http://www.americansouthwest.net/utah will get you to some info. Then link to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, then to "Upper Calf Creek Falls".

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The great arches in Rattlesnake, although not as prolific as those in Arches National Park, are every bit as cool, and can be seen in a more concentrated area. The arches are in the Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area, and (OPTION 1) are accessible via Colorado National Monument (fee area) for about a 5 mile round-trip hike. The problem can be the Black Ridge access road in some weather. It is a 13 mile unpaved, ungraded, most of all unmaintained road. The last 1 1/2 miles are high-clearance 4WD. The Black Ridge road is itself 11 miles from the National Monument entrance near Fruita, Colorado. So I don't like that option; too much driving and not enough hiking. (OPTION 2) I like this better for a longer 15 mile round-trip hike, including the loop around the arches, with not so many vehicle access problems. And no fee! Just head toward the west entrance of the C.N.M. on Rt. 340 out of Fruita (This will be exit 19 on I-70). After crossing the Colorado River, look for King's View Estates on the right and turn there. Travel down this road about 3.2 miles to "Pollock Bench Trail" on the left. The last 2.6 miles are unpaved, after the subdivision paved road. As an aside, Pollock Bench Trail used to be a kick-butt mountain bike track. Because of a few bad apples, it's now hiking only. Anyway, onward on Rattlesnake. From the Pollock Bench trail head, you got that 15 mile hike. It will be surprising to find any potable water, so carry one gallon per person (minimum). DON'T FORGET YOU ARE IN FOR AN 8 HOUR STRENUOUS HIKE (WITH EXPLORATION). This hike is in and out of canyons with altitude change. From the trailhead, head down the Pollock trail until you can catch a right on the designated Rattlesnake Arches trail after about a mile, which is generally well cairned. After you get into and out of Pollock Canyon, the toughest is over, until the way back. 7/10 of a mile after emerging from Pollock Canyon, turn left on what is the Old Ute Indian Trail. You should be traveling southwest here. Now climb and climb (a tiring 600 feet when you're alreday tired) for just over a mile to the Lower Rattlesnake Arches Trail to the right. The upper trail is left. From this junction you are about 1/2 hour from arches on the lower trail heading west, which eventually will swing around the arches' mesa. Then you will be traveling east instead of west, and you are in for the best stuff now. It's nice to be alone here among these beauties in the Entrada formation, instead of part of a large crowd. There is room to clear your mind. After seeing about a mile's worth of arches as you travel eastbound, you come to "Trail Arch"? at the last. Anyway, you'll know it, because it looks like you just might be able to climb up through it. Guess what, you probably can! I'm old and feeble and I can. At the top you'll access the Upper Rattlesnake Arches Trail, turn right about 15 minutes to the Upper/Lower junction, and head back to GO. It was a lot of work but worth it you will say, and you will sleep good.

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Sand Canyon trail(s), which lie in the new Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, should be divided into two parts, especially for day hiking. The complete trail system in the area, which features many great ruin sites, is too much for one day. The terrain is for the most part easy to traverse, so I am managing this blog as two long day hikes. Both start on McElmo Canyon Rd., which is also County Rd. G. This paved road heads west off of Hwy. 491 at 3 miles south of Cortez, Colorado. Sand Canyon is 12 1/2 miles down the county road, on the north side. Watch for bicyclists and horses. This is a multi-use area.
Part 1: I would recommend an out-and-back 13 1/2 mile trek. A little less than half is fairly strenuous, either up or downhill. For the most part you are in for a nice walk, with lots of ruin sites. The most famous is probably the "Saddlehorn" site. Allow a long day for this hike. From the well marked trailhead, head uphill, north on the slickrock. Stay right at all junctions for 3.8 miles, then head left and steeply uphill. At the top is a reward of a large pueblo site.
Part 2: I also really enjoy bicycling this one. It's a lot flatter, but challenging. Same as the start on Part 1, then you will turn left at 1.9 miles on East Rock Trail. At 2.8 miles, turn right on single-track. At 5 1/2 miles pass a trail on the left. At 6 miles turn right on West Rock Trail. At 10.2 miles, turn right, back onto East Rock Trail, if you haven't messed up. Then in just a tenth of a mile, cross an old 4WD road, and the trail bears left. At 11.2 miles the trail is marked across slickrock with cairns. At 11.6 miles, turn right and you will back on the main trail and to your vehicle, for a loop of just short of twelve miles.
If you are undecided on your ability, the second trail is easier. It also features a natural arch in the east fork of Rock Canyon. Both trails are great for ruins, if you want to climb around in the canyon on part 2. Part one is easy access ruin sights.
Good sites are "A Day Hike in Sand Canyon", at www.anasaziadventure.com, in PDF and www.utahtrails.com/Colorado pages/SandCanyon.html.

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"DANCING ROCKS (The Racetrack Playa)"

While you will never see them dance, these dolomite rocks obviously do so (as pictured). The "Racetrack" is in a most remote area of the remote Death Valley National Park (fee area), but is worth the effort for a visit. With this dry lake bed being almost perfectly flat, scientists wonder how the thousands of rocks make their trails. So they set up cameras and much other sophisticated equipment. No one has yet to catch the little boogers moving. Many theories exist, with none proven. Although this is not technically a "hike", the playa is large enough (almost 3 miles long by 1 1/2 miles wide) to put several miles on your boots. Or, alternatively, park anywhere south of "Teakettle Junction", which is 7 miles from the playa, to extend your walk.
There are no services in this remote area. Stay hydrated! Bicycles are not allowed on the playa. No one is allowed there when it's wet. You can't get there through the "duck poop" anyway, when it's wet.
Death Valley is a neater park than one might think. With many different micro-climates and elevation ranges of -282 to +11049 feet, the scenery is quite diverse.
To get to the "Racetrack" head for Ubehebe Crater, which is 8 miles SE of Scotty's Castle Visitor Center in the National Park. From the crater it is 27 miles of dirt road to the playa. Bear right at Teakettle Junction for the final 7 miles.

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This hike in the Glen Canyon Nat'l Recreation Area offers views of 2 arches and Coyote Natural Bridge (the feature). There are also scattered remnants of ancient Puebloan society and archaeology. For a very remote area, the popularity is puzzling. Even if you are looking for a solitary experience, Coyote Gulch is worth the trip. You may be alone on any given day.
From the 4WD access parking (2WD access will add 2 fairly drab hours to the hike), follow the sandy track northeast. From the parking area look for the Escalante River/Coyote Gulch confluence. That is your direction. You are on the (1966 proposed) "Trans-Escalante Federal Parkway". This track eventually ends in about an hour and then (hopefully) cairns mark the way, continuing northeast on slickrock, to the edge of an escarpment. The landmark at the edge is a sandstone fin with a "U"-shaped gap facing to northeast. Locate "Crack-in-the-Wall" 100 yards to the left of this fin. Don't get frustrated, the crack is there. BEFORE LEAVING THE TOP, get a look at the path that you came down, as you will need to locate it later on this out-and-back hike. Some backpacks won't squeeze through the crack and will need to be roped down. As you descend from the crack north on a trail, down a huge sand hill, toward Coyote Gulch, Stevens Arch is a good-looker to the northeast. This is as close as it gets without fording the Escalante River. How easy could it be so far? Everything is northeast. Don't forget, this sand hill will take longer to hike on the way up.
*NOTE: After finding "Crack-in-the-Wall", you should be at Coyote Gulch within 1 1/2 to 2 hours (depending on your downhill knees) from the parking area, or you goofed.
Upon reaching the gulch, go left (or up-canyon). Although the hike is all-season, winter can be beautiful but demanding, with frozen waterfalls, for the first couple hours up the canyon to Cliff Arch. This is a cool "jug-handle" arch (pictured). Walking becomes easier, at this point, for the next hour to a spectacular, canyon-spanning Coyote Natural Bridge. This was our out-and-back turnaround. Between Cliff Arch and Coyote Natural Bridge there is a great pictograph panel on the north side (1.6 mi. W. from Cliff, .7 mi. E. from Coyote). If you miss the sand hill exit on the way back, you'll know it. If you intersect the Escalante River, you are 10 minutes too far.
So, from the parking area, we are looking at 1 1/2-2 hours (or 2 miles) to Coyote Gulch, then up canyon 1 1/2-2 hours (approx. 2 mi.) to Cliff Arch, then 1 hour (just over 2 miles) more up the canyon to Coyote Bridge. You can see that you are in for an 8 to 10 hour (approx. 12 miles) hike. Stay hydrated with a gallon of water per person (minimum). With driving time of 3 or 4 hours, this is a "leave very early" and "get back very late" endeavor.
Access for this hike is a pain. Take Hole-in-the-Rock Rd. (same as Glen Canyon Recreation Area Rd.), which is 5 miles east of Escalante, Utah, off of Rt. 12, south for 36 miles. Those 36 miles are no picnic, and washboard-y. Turn left (east) on Fortymile Ridge Rd. for 7 miles, staying left at the only junction, to the trailhead. 2WD vehicles will probably not make it the last 2 1/2 miles, making the hike too long for most day-hikers.

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The area of the Grand Staircase-Escalante Nat'l Monument where this petrified forest (made up mostly of Araucarioxylon arizonicum trees) lies, near Capitol Reef National Park, is better than the famous park with the same theme in Arizona, in my opinion. Plus there are two distinct advantages for this area in Utah. It's cost-free and it's not crowded!! There is plenty of solitude among the massive iron-like trees to allow (your) pondering what was here.
The hike begins at the trailhead on the Lamp Stand Road parking area and progresses a few minutes to just before a wash where it splits. Take the left or southwest fork, then staying right at the next two junctions up a hill. At the top of the hill, continue on the old mining path that you have been on for about 100 yards. Then follow any of several mining tracks until you are below the "Pink Pass", which is a pass of pink sand. Here, scramble over the pass into a stunning petrified forest (after a scramble down from the pass) and descend toward Egg Canyon. The canyon should be about 1 1/2 miles into the hike, or you erred. Hiking down Egg (SW) to it's end at "The Gulch" is an additional 2 1/2 miles. When we reached "The Gulch", we headed back the same way for an out-and-back of about 8 miles or 4 hours, including time in the petrified forest.
There is no water available on this hike until "The Gulch" is encountered at 4 miles in.
Access for this hike: Starting in Boulder, Utah, take the Burr Trail Rd. toward Capitol Reef N. P. Travel east 21 3/4 miles to the "Lamp Stand" sign, which may still be there. Turn left at "Lamp Stand". At 1.9 mi. down this high-clearance road (if dry), stay left on the main road at the "Y". At 3.2 mi., left again on main road. The "Stand" formation is right at 4.7 miles, then a stock tank left. Stay with the most main road left at a tee at 5.1 miles and again at 6 miles. At 7 1/2 miles there is a cattle guard and a corral to the left. Go left here again. At 9 1/2 miles down the graded road you are there, ready to hike.
We did the out-and-back described. Steve Allen offers a loop option of about the same length as my description, and also offers a side trip to Lamanite Arch (much longer hike then) in his "Canyoneering 3" (ISBN 0-87480-545-7).

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