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UT or NM in Late March

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UT or NM in Late March

Postby talusfinder » Sat Mar 13, 2010 10:46 pm

I am looking to take a trip to NM or UT at the end of March or early April with my wife and dog. Looking for a mellow, fun desert experience. Weather permitting, we intend to camp. I anticipate it could get pretty cold at night.

We are looking for some combination of easy climbs, bike rides, bouldering opportunities, hikes where we might be able to see some ruins and/or rock art, maybe a nice easy canyon or two, but most importantly, places we can take a well-behaved dog. So, National Parks and Monuments are out. Just so you all know, I'll be sure to pick up his poop, and I will not let him get at any archaeological sites...

Anyway, suggestions for places (camping spots, trails, etc) that I might be able to combine at least a couple of the above would be greatly appreciated.

I'm purposely avoiding the CF that is Moab/Indian Creek. Also, we will be in a 2wd sedan to cut down on gas $, so no 4x4 roads please!

Thanks a ton for your suggestions.
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Postby jfrishmanIII » Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:43 am

The Gila is great (heading down there soon myself), but it has had a LOT of snow this year. There will still be a lot of lower elevation trails open (mostly the southwest edge of the wilderness), but crossing some creeks, let alone the forks of the Gila, could be a problem. Dogs are fine in the Wilderness, but probably not at Gila Cliff Dwellings Nat. Monument.

The area around Jemez Spring, NM could be another to consider, and it's closer to you. There's top-roped climbing to be had, mesa-top ruins, hot springs and not much red tape on the public. Again, the higher terrain will probably be snowy. It's also very near Cabezon Peak (on SP) and the Ojito Wilderness, which are fun areas to explore.

I don't know if you've been to New Mexico, but don't expect Utah-Style slickrock canyons. There's very little of that kind of terrain here. If that's what you have in mind, maybe the San Rafael Swell? Robbers Roost and the area around the Henry Mountains? Or Dominguez Canyon and some of the other BLM areas in western Colorado might fit your bill.
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Postby Bubba Suess » Sun Mar 14, 2010 1:37 pm

I concur on the Gila. If I may shamelessly plug one of my pages on here, the West Fork is a great, lower elevation trail:

http://www.summitpost.org/canyon/276296/West-Fork-of-the-Gila-River-Canyon.html

However, as noted, it crosses the river A LOT, so if water levels are high, this may not be the best option. Another really cool trail is to the Whiterocks and Cement Canyon, on the northeast corner of the wilderness. Really cool scenery and very lightly used!

If you are looking for slickrock in New Mexcio, here is one option (another shameless plug):

http://www.summitpost.org/canyon/276153/Canadian-River-Canyon-Mills-Canyon-.html

It's not exactly Utah but it does have some good sandstone and it has few people and should not have any snow. Again, river crossings can be a challenge, as the Canadian is a real river at this point, not like in the Gila, where you are still looking at smaller headwaters.

Or you could just go to Utah.
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Postby jfrishmanIII » Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:52 pm

FYI:

Date: Mar 12, 2010

Contact(s): Annette Grijalva-Disert

Mimbres, NM - Melting snowpack on the Gila National Forest is resulting in very high water levels on the Gila River. This high water flow is creating extremely dangerous conditions for recreationists attempting river crossings. The Gila River is deep and the water is cold and running very swift.

Until conditions improve, the Wilderness Ranger District of the Gila National Forest is discouraging recreationists from traveling on any trails that involve river crossings or from backpacking into higher elevations where heavy snowpack still remains. Challenging and difficult backpacking conditions exist for all high-elevation trails including trails along the Middle Fork, West Fork, and the main Gila River.

As of March 8, 3:00 pm, the USGS reported the Gila River flow levels at 1170 CFS (cubic feet per second) or 4.1 feet in depth. One hundred seventeen (117) inches of snow was also reported at Whitewater Baldy (elevation 10,895 ft.) located in the Gila Wilderness and 40 inches at McKnight Mountain (elevation 9,240 ft.) in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness.

As warmer temperatures and warmer rains occur on the Forest, the melting snowpack will continue to cause river levels to increase even more with possible flooding conditions. Recreationists are asked to obtain weather forecasts and information on road conditions prior to traveling into the Forest.

The Gila River flow data can be found at the following website: waterdata.usgs.gov/nm/nwis.

Road Advisory Hotline: 1 800/ 432-4269

For more information, please call the Wilderness Ranger District at (575) 536-2250.
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Postby Bubba Suess » Mon Mar 15, 2010 4:54 pm

It's great to hear they had that much snow down there. Do y'all know if the catwalk ever gets inundated?
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Postby jfrishmanIII » Mon Mar 15, 2010 8:16 pm

I dimly recall hearing something about flood damage to the Catwalk at some point, but I'm pretty sure that was summer monsoon action, not snowmelt. Nevertheless, a hot day in the next couple weeks could make for a spectacular Catwalk visit! Maybe we'll check it out this weekend if we have time. I'm heading down to raft the Gila, so this outlook is great news for me.
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Postby Bubba Suess » Mon Mar 15, 2010 8:55 pm

Where will you put in and take out?

Have you ever done any of the rivers up here in northern CA?
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Postby talusfinder » Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:40 am

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...
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Postby Bubba Suess » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:44 am

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!
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Postby jfrishmanIII » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:45 am

Where will you put in and take out?

Have you ever done any of the rivers up here in northern CA?


We'll launch at the East Fork confluence, it's really not doable above there. Takeout is where it comes out of the canyon, a few miles past Turkey Creek. It's supposed to be mostly a Class II run, maybe Class III. The biggest worry is trees in the channel; you have to be prepared to portage a bit. But it'll be awesome! Boatable flows are generally rare and unpredictable, so I'm stoked to be able to give it a go this year. It's the type of thing I may do only once in my life.

I've just run the Klamath in Cali, plus the Illinois and Rogue in Oregon. I'd love to get out there more, but that's kayak country and I'm more of a multi-day rafting person. Most of my boating has been in Dinosaur, Idaho and the Grand Canyon.

Hmmm... Still not sure what to do.


Sorry talusfinder, we're jacking your thread a little. If the Gila appeals to you, you might also consider the nearby Aldo Leopold Wilderness. It gets even less use and creeks aren't as big an issue there. Still expect snow up high, though. Another similar option is Apache Kid Wilderness northeast of Truth or Consequences. No one goes there, but it's pretty cool. Again, there'll be snow at the crest, though not as much as in the Gila. But there will be plenty of water there this year, not to be taken for granted. Passenger car should be fine to Springtime and Luna Park campgrounds; I think there may be some sport climbing at Luna Park. Indian Creek near Springtime is quite cool. You'd also be fairly close to Enchanted Tower and Socorro Box climbing areas. The Quebradas Backcountry Byway out of Socorro has some fun little canyons and desert to crawl around in.
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