My adventure bucket list for 2019

We all have them in some form or another, and call it what you will.
A destination to do list, travel agenda, excursion plan, gallivanting extravaganza!

I don’t know about you but I have the wanderlust bug real bad these days and I can’t wait to get on with my next adventure. I have complied a small but thoughtful list of some places that I have found in close enough proximity to where I live, (but cool as hell) and fully intend on making an appearance at this year. 

In no real specific order, except that my list seems to meander down Utah and into Arizona.

I would seriously love to just take a motor home or sprinter van and just do it all in one long go, but I would want my husband and partner in life to go with me and we’re not able to do that just yet. Someday though we will be a traveling adventuring team the likes you have never seen! Mwahahaha! I don’t know why an evil laugh. Because it’s not evil at all it’s just plain ass fun! 

  1. Kanarra Falls – Kanarravile, UT. In the Summer. From what I can tell, you’re basically hiking through a stream, so yeah, summer!
  2. House On Fire Ruins – Probably Spring or Fall, maybe summer. It’s an Anasazi ruin in Mule Canyon near Blanding Utah. This place just looks cool and I’m pretty sure it will blow my mind!
  3. Kanab Caves or Moqui Cave – Late Fall or early Winter
  4. Antelope Canyon Tour – Near Page, AZ. Will be the going same time as Kanab Caves. This is that gorgeous slot canyon you’re seeing pics of everywhere with the beam of sunlight coming down from the a slit in the top down to the ground.
  5. Havasu Falls, AZ – Probably Late fall. I want to SUP board here so bad!
  6. Sedona, AZ – Most likely Late Fall, Early Winter. It just looks magical and serene here, plus I’m really curious about the vortex thing.

I know 6 is kind of a weird number but I carefully narrowed it down to these. My list would go on and on. I’ve probably forgotten about a place or two I’d heard or read about that needs to seriously be on this list, but I can always add to it or try again next year! If I had to cut something out I would cut out the Moqui Caves. Mostly because it’s a fairly new idea on my want list, and the others have been in my day dreams for some time now. 

A few other’s I might add that would be nice…

  • The Grand Canyon – Yep never been. 
  • Mesa Verde National Park, CO – Looks cool.
  • A brewery tour in Colorado would be sweet!

It’s already damn near March so I guess I better start planning and/or booking these.

Any thoughts, questions or some tips for me about my adventure bucket list?

Comment below please, I’d love to hear it!

San Rafael Swell – The North side of I-70

Read on for more information about the North side of the swell from a local.

Popular meeting place

Ah the swell, the desert, my playground and where I love to go the most near my home.

My usual day visits are on what the locals call this side of I-70. This is where most of my mini adventures play out. We have “The Wedge” or Little Grand Canyon, Cedar Mountain, and several pull off spots for petroglyphs, pictographs, and even dinosaur footprints. Not to mention the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, scenic Buckhorn Wash, and the Swinging Bridge, amongst many other neat-o things to see. 

 Just a few things to do out here

The geocache stashes out here are unreal too. I plan on adding to the geocache population out on the San Rafael Swell myself this Spring! Check out my post on a DIY geocache stash swag

Camping is the best out here if you’re into primitive camping. You should see it around Easter! The landscape becomes full of campers, RV’s, tents, and plenty of ATV rides in all sizes. The locals call it “Easter’n”. Come sunshine, rain, and most times snow and freezing temperatures, most of the Emery County and Carbon County population go out to camp and recreate in the San Rafael Swell for Easter. 

During the Spring runoff period and if we have a good winter, floating the San Rafael River is an adventure must. Check out my post on my experience with floating the river. I plan on doing this again at any chance I get. 

There aren’t a lot of designated hiking trails on this side but plenty to explore on your own. However, ATV trails are in abundance.

Geology in the Swell 

You’ll find a lot of the same formations that are scattered throughout Utah. Some of it looks like the formations found in Zions National Park, Moab, Bryce Canyon and Capital Reef National Parks. In fact when I visited Capital Reef National Park, I said it looked like “our” desert but more red.

History in San Rafael Swell
Markers identifying The Old Spanish Trail

Native Americans, settlers, and miners helped develop this land and cultivated a story or two.

Of course we see the presence of Native Americans through the strange and wonderful paintings, carvings, and artifacts left behind. First used as a trade route and running from New Mexico to California, The Old Spanish Trail runs through the swell. There are people who still navigate the trail to this day! Old uranium mines remain, but dangerous to explore. They would be a fascinating part of history to see first hand but please don’t put yourself in harms way. 

Wildlife

You can expect to see antelope pretty much year round and abundantly in Buckhorn Flat. Deer, prairie dogs, and even wild horses and burros in some areas. I’ve spent plenty of time out on the swell and only in the last couple of years did I get the pleasure of seeing bighorn sheep up close and personal. They really are magnificent creatures, but if you spot some, please be smart about approaching them. They will run from you, and are extremely fast, but you never know.

Best time to visit

In order to get a good visit in especially if you’re traveling far, I would recommend anywhere between April to about mid June. In the summer, it can get pretty hot and most of all buggy.

Then try September to whenever it decides to snow on a regular basis. I made pretty frequent visits up to December and January this year and had gorgeous weather.

Let me tell you, when you’re hanging out in the desert in February and you actually see winter coming, you should probably start packing up your picnic stuff because it comes fast!

WINTER’S COMING!

Check out the video for a little time warp of Buckhorn Wash in the Winter for your viewing pleasure!

Winter mini adventure: Grandstaff Hike, Moab Ut

Here’s a great way to get out of the house in the middle of winter, get out to Moab and hike up Grandstaff canyon for gorgeous streams and icicles and to see the natural bridge at the end.

Grandstaff Natural bridge

Head up Scenic Byway 128 just before getting into the town of Moab, right after the bridge on HWY 191, turn left up the canyon. The trailhead sign is visible from the road “Grandstaff Canyon Trailhead” on the right a little over 3 miles up 128. There’s a few parking spots with a kiosk and a pit toilet.

Scenic HWY 128 & the Colorado River
a different view on Hwy 128

My husband and I did this hike in February with no snow fall for weeks previously so it wasn’t too cold. This hike is there and back and a little over 2 miles in, 2 miles out. Grandstaff has lots of shady spots that are kind of cold in winter, but I’ll bet this hike is fantastic in the spring, a cool one to do in summer. and provide a gorgeous fall background in October. 

A beautiful canyon

Grandstaff Canyon showcases red cliffs, plenty of vegetation and greenery, (in the Spring I can imagine), and the bubbling, trickling sounds, and wonderful reflections of the surrounding beauty in a little stream that runs through it. 


What terrain to expect

Nothing too crazy here, just crossing the stream several times and a few icy/snowy parts where the sun hardly hits the ground. I wore insulated/waterproof hiking boots and at first thought I was wrong in choosing to wear them because my feet were getting pretty hot. I was thankful as they made it easier to cross all the streams and provided warmth after doing so several times there and back. I also packed crampons but didn’t end up needing them enough to want to put them on.

We only saw a few people on our entire hike so it’s obviously not as popular during the winter.

There isn’t a lot of elevation gain or anything technical to get around or through so I believe it is 

a good hike for just about anyone, kids and dogs included, depending on your kids and dogs that is. You may end up carrying them across some of the water crossings. 

Grandstaff Natural Bridge

The natural bridge at the end of the hike doesn’t look like much until you can get right up to it and under it. The trail takes you under it and into a kind of cave like area where a crack in the cliff wall seeps out a tiny bit of water, but sounds like the stream you’ve been hiking next to during the entire hike. This area was previously named Negro Bill Canyon wilderness study area but then changed to Grandstaff, which is the last name of William Grandstaff, whom the canyon is named after. 

From what I could tell, there could be a lot of exploring done in this canyon, especially in the warmer months. Have you been on this hike in the winter? How was your experience?

Winter Mini Adventure idea: Short hike to waterfall at Joes Valley Reservoir

Head up to Joe’s Valley Reservoir near Orangeville Utah for a frozen winter waterfall scene.

Here’s a little mini adventure idea for ya when you’re stuck in the house on a winter day. Take a quick mile roundtrip hike up to one of the frozen water falls near Joe’s Valley and eat a light lunch, snack it up, or BYOC (Bring Your Own Coffee.)

Getting to the falls

From Orangeville, head up Straight Canyon and stay on that road leading around Joe’s Valley. You’ll come up on Trail Mountain Resort on the right side of the road, and once you see that, start looking for mile marker 3. The turn off is only a couple hundred yards from that mile marker with a barbed wire fence heading up to the right.

From the road, this is where you turn in. See the fence?

You can get out here and make it more of a hike, (recommended) or you can brave the snow up the small two track road almost all the way up to the falls. In the summer you can drive up, but I would recommend a high clearance vehicle as this road varies in conditions. 

Follow the two track road up with the barbed wire fence to your left. The road winds around some pretty spectacular pine trees as you get closer to the face of the mountain.

This is a great area for picnic spots in warmer months. 

Keep following this road up and you will see some rocky cliffs and the frozen waterfall start coming into view. 

Almost there!

There are a few places to get closer up high, and down low, close to the stream that are safe. Watch your footing, especially in the snow! Take in the beauty and take notice of the sounds of the ice popping on the lake. It’s really amplified here with the sound echoing off the mountain side.

I love me some Joe’s!

View of Joe’s Valley from the falls

If you didn’t get to have (or wanted to make) coffee at the water fall, you can always stop in at Cup Of Joe’s coffee shop in Orangeville. 

I know there are a few other waterfalls in this area, and they will need a visit soon from me.I’ve been up there in past years and the falls have been dyed with food coloring. Kinda seems like vandalism to me.

Have you been to these Joe’s Valley falls? To the others perhaps?

Photo scavenger hunt

Outdoor photo scavenger hunt ideas.

How much fun is this? Go out to one of your favorite spots or hikes, or while your camping. Take a few of your friends or family and make a contest out of it.

Here’s my photo scavenger hunt list. It’s pretty easy, so you could get kids involved as well. Other than the bonus finds they should be found just about anywhere.

  1. Something natural in the shape of a letter
  2. A natural body of water – Like a river, pond or lake.
  3. A lonely tree – A tree out all by itself with no others around it.
  4. Clouds in the shape of something
  5. A bug
  6. Flowers
  7. An animal
  8. Something left behind – Garbage, coins, anything left or dropped by humans.
  9. Moss
  10. A trail – This could be a hiking trail, ATV trail, bike trail.
  11. A sign
  12. Funky shaped rock
  13. A nest
  14. Animal prints
  15. A dead tree
  16. A feather
  17. Something you think is special
  18. A spiderweb
  19. Tree bark
  20. A great place to hide a geocache

Bonus photos

  • Sunset
  • Petroglyph/pictograph
  • Fire
  • Fossil

You can do this however you want. Do it just for fun, look at the photos of each item and judge based on popular vote – whoever gets the most votes wins. You could make each one specific to the area you’re in and make it harder for adults only or make it simple for kids. 

Ideas for mini adventures

Get outdoors for a mini adventure!

Say you don’t have a whole week, weekend or even a whole day to spend getting your adventure on. Maybe you just want something to do while being outdoors.

You’re bored and tired of being stuck in the house. I have some ideas for what I like to call mini adventures.

Geocaching

One of my favorite things to do for a mini adventure, is to pick an area near where I live,  and go find a few geocaches. It’s a great way to see something new, hike somewhere you’ve never been, and maybe even learn something new through an Earthcache. Check out my post about geocaching!

So grab your GPS device and go caching!

Go out to eat

No not out to a restaurant! Gather some food to cook along with the essential cookery, and head out to the hills or to a picnic spot. You don’t have to be camping to cook outdoors and enjoy it. You can get as simple or as complicated as you want with this mini adventure. Listed below are some ideas of what to cook and what you’ll need to cook it.

  • Weenie roast – Get some hot dogs or sausages, with or without buns and fixin’s, and some roasting sticks or plan on finding a sufficient stick to use while you’re out. Depending on where you go, you need to obey the rules and regulations. So if you can have a fire, great! Make sure you bring fuel, a lighter, maybe wood if you aren’t able to gather it in your area, or charcoal briquettes. Just make sure there aren’t any fire restrictions in your area.
  • Grill it up – You really need a portable grill for this one. Take the required fuel and fire building items for it. You could grill up hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, any meat really, veggies, you could put together a quick salad for a side dish. As far as food goes it’s really up to you. What ever you want to deal with while you’re outside. Setting up at picnic table would make this process a lot easier obviously.
  • Tinfoil meals – These are my go to when I’m camping. I always do the tinfoil dinners at least one night. All this requires is whatever food you want in your tinfoil, wrap that up in tinfoil, take some long handled tongs for handling them, a fire grate or grill – whatever you have or prefer, or you can just throw them shits right in the hot coals of a fire. Like I said before, make sure you know your areas fire regulations before hand.

Go out for a cup o coffee – Don’t go to Starbucks or a coffee shop for this one. You may need to acquire a few supplies for this one. I take a little backpacking stove, a French press, and of course ground coffee with small containers of cream and sugar. Don’t forget your favorite travel mug and head out to a favorite spot, or take your supplies in a backpack and hike. Take a coffee break!

Photo scavenger hunt – Grab your phone or camera and drive out to an area you know will be great for photos. This is better with several people involved so you can compare photos and turn it into a game. Here is my post for photo scavenger hunt ideas.