Baker Visuals LLC | Southwest Sabbatical

Southwest Sabbatical

March 04, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

I have been quite surprised as of late by the interest in my spring travel plans. It is because of this interest that I have decided to combine my trip information / itinerary in this one place. Have ideas or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments below.

My trip will begin on April 1st from the Chicago area. It is my intent to leave early in the day and drive straight thru the 1155 miles to Great Sand Dunes National Park. That night I will likely pay the $20 fee for a campsite in the Piñon Flats campground for a few hours rest.

My goal is to then be up just before dawn where I will attempt to photograph the sand dunes from the road at sunrise. From there I will return to the park and attempt to get a backcountry permit so that I may spend a night or two camping on the Dunes themselves. Eventually I will be making my way to Medano Creek Rd for a couple of nights of primitive camping in between exploration of the non-sand dune area of the park.

During the evening of April 5th I hope to be leaving the Great Sand Dune National Park for the 197 mile trek to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. There I will be more than likely camping for $12 a night in the South Rim Campground.

My time in Black Canyon of the Gunnison will mostly focus around the two rims for sunrise and sunset images. And while it certainly is tempting, I don’t see myself venturing down into the canyon itself. Though on the bright side, I will be spending the night of April 8th in the Super 8 Montrose motel. This will give my first chance in over a week to sleep in a bed, recharge my electronics and update the outside world.

After what I certainly hope is a restful nights sleep I will starting out on my journey into Utah. It appears the ride between Montrose and Moab should be 183 miles and land me in one of the many fine BLM campgrounds in the area. At $10-15 a night, they are the best deal in town.

This is when the west will truly open up in my travels. I will spend the next 18 days covering Arches National Park, Island in The Sky District of Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park and the BLM lands surrounding the Moab area. With sites such as False Kiva, Mesa Arch, Delicate Arch and Double Arch this promises to be my most productive photographic period to date. (All images for illustration use only and are owned by their respective creators.)

During those 18 days I will be camping for all but two of them. For the nights of the 15th and 23rd I will be staying at the Moab Valley Inn for $132 a night. While it’s not cheap it will be nice to periodically visit a bed and do laundry etc. The journey is still out on what all $132 gets on in these parts.

In the evening of April 27th I intend to head down the 273 miles to Page Arizona. There I will be camping in and around the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area for roughly $10 a night with a single evening in the Super 8 Page / Lake Powell on May 1stfor $104 a night. Overall this should be a more relaxed and slower paced section of my journey.

As some of you might recall I was last in Page Arizona back in February of 2012. I hope to be making another attempt at images of Lower Antelope Canyon as well as Horseshoe Bend and various other spots thru out the area. This will also allow me to restock supplies etc.

There is a possibility that I will be leaving early on the morning of May 2nd for an all day adventure to Toroweap Overlook on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. This however is an extremely difficult area to reach and it would take 5.5 hours to make the 162 mile journey. That said, the images from this area can be absolutely stunning. (All images for illustration use only and are owned by their respective creators.)

If I opted for this trip it would involve a one night stay in the free primitive campground. Before and after which I would be along the rim attempting to capture what some might call the north rims best view. That view being the roughly two-thousand foot sheer drop into the canyon and the Colorado River within.

From Toroweap Overlook or Page Az I will be heading to Zion National Park on May 3rd which will either be a 110-115 mile trip lasting between 2-5 hours. And that’s if I manage to drive straight thru without side trips to any of the many stunning sites along the way. Good thing I enjoy my time on the open road.

Upon my arrival at Zion National Park I hope to first check out my reserved site D005 in the Watchmen Campground near the south entrance of the park. From there I will cover as much of the park as possible over the next 5 days. This will include a 10-12 mile hike in the Narrows which I hope will create a dozen or so stunning images.

In the wee early hours of May 8th I plan on making the drive of 84 miles and 1.75 hour to Bryce Canyon National Park which should welcome me with a sunset to remember. Once the sun has fully risen I will make my way to the North Campground where for $15 a night I will enjoy five of my six nights of short-lived rest. The night of May 9th however will be spent in Bryce View Lodge for $80.

From Bryce Canyon National Park I will head toward Capital Reef National Park around midday on May 14th. The 123 mile ride is supposedly quite scenic and should be easy. During my 4 days / nights in the park I will spending three nights in either the Fruita campground or one of the two primitive campgrounds. The night of May 17th will be spent at Howard Johnson Capital Reef for $76. I won’t see another bed or electrical socket for the next 11 days.

Bright and early on the morning of May 18th I will begin the 145 mile and 2.5 hour return trip to Moab. There I will hastily restock supplies and maybe grab a quick bite to eat. This is the day that the true adventure begins.

The White Rim Road is a 100 mile 4×4 road that circles the lower Mesa of Island in the Sky. I will spend the next 5 days following the road in a counter-clockwise manner. Below are the dates and campsites I will be staying at.
May 18th – Taylor
May 19th – Hardscrabble B
May 20th – Candlestick
May 21st – Murphy A
May 22nd – Airport D

The interesting and somewhat concerning issue with the White Rim Rd is its propensity to flood in the spring. The potential exists for me to become stranded by flood waters anywhere along my first 4 days on the trail. Nothing ventured, nothing gained I’m told.

If I don’t get washed away by the Colorado river, I hope to leave the White Rim trail sometime in the mid morning of May 23rd. From there I will restock supplies in Moab before heading south to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.

The Needles District of Canyonlands is a much more isolated and desolate area of the park. I will be going into the heart of this area via the Elephant Hill trail. This trail is a highly technical 4×4 route that is traversed at an average speed of 1mph. At the end of the first two miles I will likely need to find a Xanax and a clean pair of shorts I’m told. About that adventure I’ve been taking about.

Over the next 6 nights I will be staying at three different campsites along Devils lane or it’s proximity. Below is the list of campsites that I have reserved for this section of my trip.
May 23rd – Devils Kitchen 2
May 24th – Devils Kitchen 2
May 25th – Devils Kitchen 4
May 26th – Devils Kitchen 4
May 27th – Bobby Jo
May 28th – Horsehoof

Sometime around mid morning on May 29th I will make the short but difficult trip back out of the Needles District via Elephant Hill Trail. From there I will restock and grab some food in Moab before heading to Inn at the Canyons in Monticello for the night. At $100 I’m sure this will be the best place I’ve ever slept after 11 days in a tent.

Come the morning of May 30th I will pack my things and begin my trek eastward. I will then either push thru the 1339 mile 19.25 hour drive home or divert North a bit to Badlands National Park which would be a 754 mile and 12.25 hour ride.

If I decided to go to Badlands National Park it would only be for a three night stay. However at that stage another three nights in to tent may not seem to appealing. Regardless, I fully intend to be back in the Chicago area by 7pm on June 2nd.

For more information or to view my collection of images visit Baker Visuals.



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