This beautiful 8-mile hike winds through some of Utah’s best (and most popular) slot canyons: Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyons. We left our BLM campsite (located up a 4×4 access wash!) and started at the trailhead at about 8am. We began the hike with other groups of people hiking along near by. When we reached the “Y” we headed up Bell Canyon to ditch the crowds as most people hike this loop up Little Wild Horse, then down Bell.
With eerie quietness, we groped along the narrow walls and scrabbled up and over boulders lodged between the walls. The faint call of Canyon Wren could be heard admits the steps of our feet atop the sand and river stone.
The trail opened up as we exited Bell Canyon and traversed an old jeep trail for a mile or so; the jeep trail connected us to a wide wash, which eventually funneled into Little Wild Horse Canyon. The canyon dropped fast as we looked for creative ways to climb over and under giant boulders of red sand stone. Prince plumes and prim roses scattered the walls resembling hanging gardens.
The final few miles were the most breath taking. The curvature of the walls spinning up into the sky were inspiring, as if an architect had formed these for a modern art show.
We completed the loop in 4.5 hours at a pretty fast pace stopping for lunch and short exploration.
We woke up on a Saturday in the late am with a 6″ blanket of fresh snow and blue bird conditions. We decided to take the alternative route; as skiers and snowboarders charged up to Crested Butte and Telluride to get some fresh tracks, we did the same but with snowshoes! But our destination was the 2 mile loop cresting the edge of the Black Canyon. With about a 20 minute drive from Montrose Colorado, this adventure is exceptional considering the short drive.
Heading clockwise, this trail began with a steep traverse down into a the canyon. I was surprised how steep the traverses actually were. Poles were a must. As we finished our decent, we could look up at the walls of the observation center and the sun baked sandstone. We continued through beautiful oak brush tunnels with powder perched upon them. The best views were looking across and down toward the river and the pre-cambrian painted walls. A wild mixture of rose quarts and schist rock create this amazing view as well as the rivers woven path through the deep canyon passage.
The loop took about 1.5 hours to complete as the fresh snow and breathtaking views slowed our pace.
Monarch Mountain is a quaint and remote ski “resort” that sits on the continental divide about two hours east of Montrose Colorado. The term “resort” is relative in that this is not necessarily a destination ski-in ski-out poo-poo noses-up kind of place. Monarch Mountain dubs itself ,“Real Colorado Skiing”, and I am one to agree. There are not many places left where you can see a local carving slow s-turns in Carhartt coveralls. There are also few places left with small lift lines. Even on a powder day, lift lines are minimal here.
The terrain has limits (unless you book a cat skiing trip with them), but the powder is limitless. I especially enjoy the advanced lift. After tracking out all the powder on the upper mountain, the advanced lift terrain ALWAYS has freshies in the secret stash spots sometimes even days after a storm. I love the fact that we can sleep in and still get semi-fresh tracks.
The mountain vibe is so down to earth it’s refreshing…
Me and my hubby about to drop into Mirkwood Bowl in a multi-foot powder day a few years back…
What’s this winter’s snow forecast (rumors) for South West Colorado?
Farmers Alemannic, Colorado winter’s snow forecast:
- “Snowier” than normal winter.
- Below normal temps.
- April and May are predicated to be drier than normal
Accuweather, Colorado winter’s snow forecast:
- Frequent precipitation – Due to changing H20 temps in the Pacific North West.
- The Pacific H20 temp. change may result in active jet streams moving further south bringing multiple-week snow storm patterns.
Meteorologist Rob Guarina, Colorado winter’s snow forecast:
- Storms will come from, “a weak El Nino, an active Southern jet stream, or both.”
- Additional moisture from the south could produce 15”+ snow storms on the South West San Juans
- Most forecast models leaning toward a moderate to weak El Nino winter
Monarch Mountain already has a 33” base
Telluride Ski Resort has a rumored 30-40” base