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UT or NM in Late March

Regional discussion and conditions reports for the Great American Southwest. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the Southwest US Climbing Partners section.
 

Postby talusfinder » Sun Mar 21, 2010 1:49 am

Bubba Suess wrote:
talusfinder wrote:Thanks for the info. Hmmm... Still not sure what to do. Definitely don't want to deal with snow or snowmelt runoff. I've had enough sketchy river crossings for one lifetime. Hate em...


If I may offer a suggestion, this may be an interesting trip, that would include many of the elements you were looking for. It would include many different areas that you may not normally see:

You could go to the Palo Duro Canyon in Texas, which has some pretty good mountain biking trails. If you wanted to send the night in the wilderness, you could pack into North Cita Canyon. This canyon is a far cry from the activity in the rest of the park and quite pretty too.

www.summitpost.org/area/range/276514/Ca ... lands.html

www.summitpost.org/canyon/155140/palo-duro-canyon.html

If you were to take 287, it would be a pretty straight shot all the way to the Palo Duro Canyon, and along the way you could stop at Picture Canyon, which has some great hiking and really cool astro-petroglyphs!

www.fs.fed.us/r2/psicc/recreation/campi ... cnic.shtml

You would also be close to the Oklahoma highpoint and could nail that too:

www.summitpost.org/mountain/rock/151933/black-mesa.html

All of this is fairly dog friendly and you would have most of what you were looking for, except for climbing, which, if you really wanted to, could be had in extremely fine form in the Wichita Mountains:

www.summitpost.org/area/range/171222/wi ... tains.html

www.summitpost.org/area/range/274583/Ch ... rness.html

Other than the Wichitas, you would still be in easy striking distance to the Canadian River Canyon. You could camp in the canyon or on the rim, let your dog run wild, and hike or mountain bike. Great routes are in the canyon or on the east rim!

www.summitpost.org/canyon/276153/Canadi ... nyon-.html

I know that this is not Utah, or even New Mexico, but it is all surprisingly cool, very beautiful and often quite spectacular. Sometimes the road less traveled yields great rewards!


This sounds great. Thanks to everyone for you suggestions, tremendously helpful! Usually a CO forum would have a bunch of wise a$$ comments...
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Postby Scott » Sun Mar 21, 2010 4:01 am

Overall, most Southern UT is over-all more spectacular than most of New Mexico, but NM has some great places too.

As mentioned, both Southern Utah and New Mexico have had a heavy snow year. In fact, even in the Guadalupe Mountains NP as far south as West Texas, I really wish I would have brought my ice-axe. A recent storm dropped snow all the way from the southern border of NM all the way to at least Santa Fe (where I am now-not sure if we're still doing our hikes tomorrow), but eh far west was spared. At low altitudes it will melt off fast, but I would expect the snow above 8000 feet to last at least until April throughout much of NM, even down south.

Anyway, if I were to pick my favorite place in New Mexico to be in late March/early April, I would choose the area around Grants. There is a lot to see all crammed into one area (Malpais, La Ventana, Mt. Taylor, etc.) and not that much farther there are other things to see as well (El Morro, Chaco Canyon, etc.). The Zuni area has some great stuff as well, but since it's on the reservation you need permission to visit some of the best areas.

In Utah, I would pick the southern part of the Escalante region, which with the possible exception of a few places in Zion is the most spectacular region of the SW. Avoiding Moab around Easter is wise indeed and you made a good choice.

The Robbers Roost area and Dirty Devil regions should also be good, but the roads at the very highest altitudes there may be problematic.

The mentioned San Rafael Swell is also great, but perhaps not quite as scenic as the Escalante region (on the other hand, few places are), though it is still well worth visiting. Some of the normally dry canyons will probably have a bit of wading.

If you want something really isolated, but with good road access, try the canyons on the west side of Lake Powell between Hite and Bullfrog. They can be reached with a bit of hiking from the highway, but I've never seen anyone there.

The above are only some of my favorites and both states have many other good areas. Places like the Organ Mountains (NM), Cdear Mesa (UT), Paria (UT), etc, etc, are all good as well.
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