For our last camping trip of 2018, Chris and I headed to the area northwest of Moab. I hit my goal of camping at least once each month, reaching 28 nights for the year (not counting camping in my trailer, which would put me at 43). For 2019 I’m aiming for the same monthly goal, but with at least 45 nights total. As we drove toward Tenmile Canyon, I spotted some patinated cliffs that were worth checking out. There was a lot of lithic scatter at the base of the cliffs, and a few crude, weathered petroglyphs. We also stopped at some old (presumably) mining buildings near Dee Pass, then moved along and found a spot to camp near Tenmile Canyon. I’d brought plenty of firewood, and we spent the cold evening around a fire trying to keep warm. We double up our sleeping bags and slept comfortable under the stars in our cots despite temperatures in the mid-teens.
We awoke with our sleeping bags covered in frost. After packing up camp we drove into Tenmile Canyon. I’d read a guidebook that mentioned some points of interest there, but we also wandered around and found some things not mentioned there. Our first stop was at a nice-looking cliff that held a few petroglyphs.
Next we hiked to several alcoves which held a variety of Native American artifacts, cowboy writings, and rock art. There were many metates, grinding slicks, and sharpening grooves throughout the alcoves. In one we found somebody’s food stash which had been invaded by bugs and smelled horrible!
In the last remaining light of Saturday, we hiked an unnamed side canyon of Tenmile Canyon. While driving there we accidentally found ourselves part of a Jeep convoy. After leaving the main road there was one steep, sandy, snowy climb. I made a couple of unsuccessful attempts in 4-high, then shifted into 4-low and made it up the hill. I didn’t know what to expect in this canyon but it seemed a good place to explore. We didn’t find much there except for one pretty rock, but it made for a nice hike. We drove into the dark and found a place to camp on Spring Canyon Point. It was colder that night but we were still plenty comfy and burned a lot of firewood.
On Sunday morning Chris and I went to Secret Spire. From there we hiked to some alcoves that I’d taken notice of on my first visit eight years earlier. Once we got down off the slickrock there was a well-worn trail leading through the sandy soil. These alcoves were much like those we’d visited in Tenmile Canyon the previous day, but with no rock art or inscriptions. There were several metates and potsherds in the largest alcove.
Our next stop was just south of the Needles. There was a geocache at a small, lone sandstone spire that we wanted to find. On the spire I found carved the Tibbetts name, but no first name or date. We visited Dellenbaugh Tunnel, which is a natural bridge a couple hundred feet deep. A watercourse flows through and allows easy passage.
Finally, we checked out the Grotto, which Chris had never been to. I’d been there once before and didn’t take a lot of photos this time. And, being in such a dark space, the photos I took are quite blurry. It was a quick (but muddy) drive back to I-70 from there, and then we headed toward home with another successful winter camping trip under our belts.
Photo Gallery: Tenmile Canyon and Spring Canyon Point