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AZ and NM in early July?
  
 
GroovyGeek
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · AZ and NM in early July?


Yes, yes, I know... why would anyone in their right mind go there in early July. Not yet "proper" monsoon time, you are more likely to get god-awful heat and clear skies more than anything else. Well, they gave us the entire week of July 4th off from work, so I am planning on making the most of what I have.

The approximate route is as follows: San Diego, Sedona (1-2 days), Zuni Point (1-2 days), Escallante (1-2 day), Monument Valley (1-2 days), Bisti Badlands (3 days). I will leave on 6/28 and return on 7/6. The holiday will be at Bisti so at least the crowds will not be too bad.

I have a few specific questions:
a) Suggestion on car camping at the various locations? Sedona is easy, the Cococino NF has plenty of dirt roads where I can crash for the night. Zuni is probably the trickiest since I will have to get out of the NP. Is the East or west side batter? I would think that Monument and Bisti would be easy for overnighting on some dirt road.

b) Have not looked into Escallante too much. I only have a regular 4x4 SUV, not a high clearance one. I will have hiking gear with me so I can go off-trail for a day or two, though I have to be careful with the heat. Any suggestions for areas to consider? I have little interest in the iconic locations (nor do I have a permit for the Wave), and am much more interested in solitude.

Anything else along the route I should consider? Particularly any relevant state parks that may be slightly off the beaten path?

Thanks for your comments and suggestions.




Apr 27, 2014 at 03:23 AM
Greg Campbell
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · AZ and NM in early July?


'Solitude' and Monument Valley don't exactly mix!
Perhaps Valley of the Gods would be better?

Camping near MV or Valley of the Gods - Muley Point http://goo.gl/maps/oNNg4
This is a spectacular site, directly overlooking the San Juan goosenecks.

From Zuni Point, investigate this road http://goo.gl/maps/14UDU
I think you can drive a short distance and primitive camp.
If that doesn't pan out, I'd head to the Tusayan area, where numerous forest roads await. The east end of the park may(?) directly border reservation land, leaving no place to go. (?)

Escalante has gobs of things to see, but many require a non-trivial hike to reach. Summer is really not the best time. That said, you could easily stop at Wire Pass / Bucskin Gulch. BG is nice and cool, even in the dead of summer. The hike back from Wire to the parking lot isn't very long, but is fully exposed to the sun. Cache a gallon of water at the entrance to Wire Pass on the way in. Camp at nearby Stateline Campground, a superb free / dry site with tables, grills, and awnings. http://goo.gl/maps/QP1D1

Cottonwood Canyon is also a nice backcountry drive with some fun destinations along the way.
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/23783161
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/18054026
etc.

Here's a useful overview map. It really just scratches the surface, but will be fine for your blitz trip. http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/ut/grand_staircase-escalante/photos/gsenm_visitor_information.Par.40678.File.dat/07brochurefinal05-02.pdf

Give http://www.americansouthwest.net/slot_canyons/map.html a look and find a few canyons to investigate. http://www.americansouthwest.net/slot_canyons/north_wash/canyons.html is right along the road. Crash at the Sandthrax Campsite ( http://goo.gl/maps/qtN0A )and walk to a few of the slots, exploring upstream as far as you can go. #3 (Leprechaun) is one of the better ones, with some VERY dark, very cool sections at the end of the hike.

Maybe a route something like this... http://goo.gl/maps/O59Ke

Edited on Apr 27, 2014 at 04:53 AM · View previous versions



Apr 27, 2014 at 04:36 AM
GroovyGeek
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · AZ and NM in early July?


What a wealth of useful information. Thank you so much.


Apr 27, 2014 at 04:40 AM
Greg Campbell
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · AZ and NM in early July?


No problem!


Apr 27, 2014 at 04:48 AM
Slabshaft
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · AZ and NM in early July?


The only thing I would do differently is just explore the southern borders of Grand Staircase Escalante and head east from there to cut down on the driving. If you want solitude, GSENM is definitely the place for you. It's a phenomenal place to explore. Check out Sidestep Canyon.

I second the idea of camping at or near Muley point. If you get creative, you can find some seriously good views from up on that mesa. If you don't want to drive up the Moki Dugway, you could just camp anywhere in Valley of the Gods.



Apr 27, 2014 at 03:11 PM
Greg Campbell
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · AZ and NM in early July?


Yea, it's a given that GG's trip schedule is a bit nuts.

FWLIW, I'd limit M.V. to a drive by and apply the time saved to the GSENM segment.



Apr 27, 2014 at 04:25 PM
GroovyGeek
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · AZ and NM in early July?


Yes, I considered the schedule with some trepidation. The big drives are on the first and last days, everything else is under 200 miles/day. There are two reasons it ended up that way. First is daytime temperature. If I stick around one location for an extended time I would spend most of the day scouting. If temperatures are in excess of 90 degrees in would just have to hunker down and read or find other ways to kill time. The second is climate/season. I expect mostly clear blue sky and very little transition weather, hence the decision to spend most of the time at Bisti where more intimate compositions are possible. The rest of the locations are almost throwaways, I have never been there (or it was a long time ago) so I was looking at this trip mostly as an opportunity to get some sense of each place and decide where to return at a more opportune time.

The only catch are the slot canyons at GS. If the weather is not going to be oppressive I may just split the time between there and Bisti.



Apr 27, 2014 at 04:48 PM
GroovyGeek
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · AZ and NM in early July?


A question about safety/vandalism at Bisti and GS. I normally prefer older beat up transportation that you can leave unattended for days and not attract attention. Unfortunately the only 4x4 in the family right now is my wife's car, a fairly new mid class "luxury" model. If I were to take it and have the windshield smashed at some trailhead I will not hear the end of it for a decade. Should I be concerned?


Apr 27, 2014 at 04:58 PM
 

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Greg Campbell
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · AZ and NM in early July?


I'd be more worried about vandalism near Sedona than at any remote trailhead. Dunnow about the Zuni parking spot - I know some crime does occur within the NP, but how much...? Once you get out in the middle of nowhere, there just aren't many local criminals, and most other traffic will be fellow tourists.

Glad you've planned for the heat. Up early to hike and shoot, then jump in the car when it gets too hot. Sounds good, and avoids much of any flash flood danger that may be present. Don't skimp on the water when hiking - even a 'moderate' 90f can feel like an oven when the bare rock gets thoroughly warm and the sun is beating down. Keep in mind the people who died last year on the relatively easy 'Wave' hike.

Early July is on the edge of monsoon season. If not already practiced, you might read up on lightning photography. A twilight storm over GC (or just about any of this gorgeous terrain) would be a real catch!

Enjoy!



Apr 27, 2014 at 05:16 PM
GroovyGeek
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · AZ and NM in early July?


Was spending quality time with some topo maps and Google Earth trying to figure out what to do for sunrise/sunset in the Wirepass/BG area.

For sunset one possibility is to drive a bit north to the BG trailhead, then hike south and get up on West Clark Bench (or its base, the north side of which seems to have some interesting formations).

For sunrise I was looking at the area south of Wirepass. It is in close proximity to North Coyote Buttes, which is subject to the lottery and permitting. Any idea how for south I can hike without getting on the wrong side of a park ranger? There are some interesting looking hills just a mile south of Wirepass.



May 04, 2014 at 04:06 AM
Lutefisker
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · AZ and NM in early July?


First week of July is often the start of the monsoon season, but it's unpredictable. Please be very careful if you're in any slot canyons. Deadly flash floods can be on top of you with very little, if any, warning.


May 04, 2014 at 04:19 AM
GroovyGeek
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · AZ and NM in early July?


Lutefisker wrote:
First week of July is often the start of the monsoon season, but it's unpredictable. Please be very careful if you're in any slot canyons. Deadly flash floods can be on top of you with very little, if any, warning.


Understood, and thanks for the warning. Other than forecast discussions from the Salt Lake City NWS, is there another good source of local forecasting? Not sure what cell phone coverage is in that area, I am assuming somewhere between spotty to non-existent, so even that may not be accessible. Any local ranger stations that can be consulted?



May 04, 2014 at 04:25 AM
Lutefisker
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · AZ and NM in early July?


Cell coverage is spotty, and I'm not aware of any local forecasts that would be better than NWS. This might be helpful: http://www.canyoneeringusa.com/utah/introduction/hazards/



May 04, 2014 at 04:33 AM
Greg Campbell
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · AZ and NM in early July?


It looks like the setting sun will shine right down the slot section of Wire. Might make for a pretty scene...


May 04, 2014 at 04:52 AM
GroovyGeek
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · AZ and NM in early July?


Just came back, got REALLY lucky with the weather. Monsoons hit northern AZ during the second half of the week, I had seen the forecast before I left and adjusted my schedule to be in Escallante and slot canyons in the first half of the week, then VOG and Coal Mine Canyon in the second half. What a beauty, could have spent the whole week there. For the two days I was there I saw maybe 3 cars that showed up for 5 minutes each, and not a single photographer - they were probably all battling for spots at Page, GC, or Horseshoe Bend. Never made it to NM, it would have been insanity as some of you kindly pointed out :-). Will post some images once I am done processing the bounty.


Jul 07, 2014 at 08:43 AM





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