Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Monday, December 4, 2023

Cottonwood Bookends

Sunset at Gold Butte National Monument

Thanksgiving gets more challenging every year.  Decades ago, before I was old,  it was a breeze. This year, having finished the party and clean-up, we wanted nothing more than some family time on the road.

On the way back from my last trip, one of the van's back windows mysteriously shattered.  Marco, otherwise known as MacGyver, rigged up a redneck (temporary) plywood solution so we could use the van before the real repair.

Sunrise, Snow Canyon State Park Utah

Snow Canyon State Park (Utah) has been on my list for camping since a visit of just a few hours on a tour years ago with Kerrick James.  I love his photo tours, but he’s never been guilty of setting a leisurely pace.  I wanted a bit more time. The park is lovely though tough to photograph, expensive (a campsite without hookups was $48) and plagued by rules.  Most of the slickrock is off-limits to scrambling.  

Johnson Canyon, Snow Canyon State Park Utah

Our favorite hike was Johnson Canyon, a picturesque drainage with cottonwoods.  Aspen season is long over, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the water-guzzling giant trees putting on a display.

Morning moon set, Gold Butte National Monument

After that, we were ready for the solitude and free dispersed camping at Gold Butte National Monument, Nevada.  I was grateful for that, as well as the lovely light and the full moon. 

"Newspaper Rock," Gold Butte National Monument

Our camp area is famous for petroglyphs.  Spotting them is a fun challenge, as is doing exploratory hikes up the dry washes (a good way to leave no trace).  We didn’t see any others’ footprints there.  That adds to the sense of discovery.

Maple leaves at change of season, Zion National Park

I’ve been avoiding National Parks lately at least when the dog is travelling with us, which is most of the time. The parks generally don’t offer much opportunity for the nutcase to run off her energy.  Marco had never seen Zion, so we took a detour and used our federal lands pass to drive through.  We took a little hike, and I shot details of maple leaves and ice.  We’ll get back one day for an in-depth trip, maybe when we don’t have a dog.

We’d planned on a dispersed site near Marble Canyon for our last night.  We could see from the road that there were already three vehicles out there, so we compromised and stayed at the nearby Lees Ferry Campground.  $10 with Marco’s Senior Pass; That’s more like it.  There were just two other parties camping and it was delightfully quiet.  There’s a short trail to the shore of the Colorado River from the Campground.  That alone is worth the price of admission.

Oh, and we backtracked 13 miles to have burgers and fries at Cliff Dwellers Lodge.  We rarely hit restaurants when camping, but these indulgences were delightful and every bit as good as they look.

Autumn cottonwood trees, Lees Ferry Arizona

In the morning there were yellow, backlighted cottonwoods.  Bookends for the trip.

There are more images in the Autumn 2023 Gallery on the website, and Winter is coming soon.

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