Southern Utah ’19

February 28-March 3, 2019

Our annual southern Utah trip was super laid-back this year. Normally we spend much of our time outdoors driving and hiking and finding geocaches, but this time we hung out in town a lot and made only a few short excursions. Traci and I drove down on Thursday and left the kids and dogs at home, and we stayed at Paul and Pam’s house once again. That evening Paul, Eric, and I drove to Sand Mountain to check out a new road being constructed through Warner Valley, then returned to Washington for dinner and drinks after Chris and Dollie arrived.

Paul’s WJ showing off
Paul's WJ showing off

New road through Warner Valley
New road through Warner Valley

Red Reef and Pine Valley Mountains
Red Reef and Pine Valley Mountains

View over the Virgin River
View over the Virgin River

Washington at night
Washington at night

On Friday a few of us drove to Harrisburg Bench above Quail Creek Reservoir to find a couple of geocaches and see a concrete navigation arrow. While we were there, I noticed an arrow chiseled in a boulder and followed it to find a survey marker in a boulder.

Quail Creek Reservoir
Quail Creek Reservoir

Red Reef and Pine Valley Mountains from Harrisburg Bench
Red Reef and Pine Valley Mountains from Harrisburg Bench

Navigation arrow
Navigation arrow

Chiseled arrow pointing to a survey marker
Chiseled arrow pointing to a survey marker

Unstamped U.S. C.G.S marker
Unstamped U.S. C.G.S marker

Hawk flying
Hawk flying

Saturday morning there was a geocaching event in St. George where several dozen people from throughout the state showed up for breakfast. I had plans later that day to hike to some petroglyphs in the Virgin River Gorge and we picked up a few people at the event to accompany us. We parked along the side of I-15 and hiked upstream along the river. It had been raining most of the morning but stopped after we began the hike–sweet! I didn’t know exactly where the rock art was so we just wandered around checking out the most obvious spots and found several panels, all of which were excellent. Almost immediately after starting our hike we could all smell the strong odor of smoke but couldn’t tell where it was coming from. The smell dissipated quickly and I’d forgotten about it until the return hike when we all smelled it in the same area as before. I decided to find the source and followed the scent to a large boulder with a rodent’s nest below it. The nest had apparently spontaneously combusted and was smoldering. I’d heard of that happening and it was fascinating to see an actual occurrence.

Peak at the south end of Blake’s Lambing Grounds
Peak at the south end of Blake's Lambing Grounds

Virgin River
Virgin River

I-15 over the Virgin
I-15 over the Virgin

Hiking above the river
Hiking above the river

Petroglyph boulder
Petroglyph boulder

This many
This many

Animal and human figures
Animal and human figures

Ide., February 1876
Ide., February 1876

Archer
Archer

Hiking along the Virgin
Hiking along the Virgin

Chris and Ken
Chris and Ken

Bird in flight
Bird in flight

Virgin River
Virgin River

Small natural arch
Small natural arch

Hiking back down the river
Hiking back down the river

Petroglyphs that we missed on the hike up the river
Petroglyphs that we missed on the hike up the river

Funky petroglyph
Funky petroglyph

Rodent’s nest that spontaneously combusted
Rodent's nest that spontaneously combusted

Two sweet rides in the Gorge
Two sweet rides in the Gorge

Sunday’s activity was supposed to be easy but it turned out being a little more difficult than any of us had expected. First we drove through Warner Valley and Paul took us to some petroglyphs on Warner Ridge. For the second time in as many months I saw boulders with lightning marks on them, which I’d never seen before this year. Next we drove near the rim of Fort Pearce Wash and planned to hike down to the “Red Man” pictograph which I’d missed several years earlier while hiking down in the wash. From looking at the satellite imagery it appeared easy to descend a short distance from the road to the pictograph, but in reality it took a lot of searching for an easy way down. Even after finding a way below the top cliff band we had a steep and rocky traverse to the small overhang with the rock art. I hadn’t brought any water since I was expecting an easy hike, and I was hot and sweaty by the time we arrived at the pictograph. After visiting the rock art we found a much easier way back up through the cliffs. We returned to town and Traci and I packed up our Jeep and headed home, sad to leave our friends but grateful for the friendships we’ve made in the southern end of the state.

Warner Ridge petroglyphs
Warner Ridge petroglyphs

Bear tracks
Bear tracks

Petroglyphs and lightning marks
Petroglyphs and lightning marks

More petroglyphs and lightning marks on Warner Ridge
More petroglyphs and lightning marks on Warner Ridge

Fort Pearce Wash
Fort Pearce Wash

Red Man pictograph overhang
Red Man pictograph overhang

Red Man pictograph
Red Man pictograph

WJ and Sand Mountain in the background
WJ and Sand Mountain in the background


Photo Gallery: Southern Utah ’19