Cedar Breaks National Monument – A Hidden Jewel in Utah

August 2016 – Cedar Breaks National Monument is a jewel of a destination in the heart of southwestern Utah’s many spectacular State and National Parks. It looks a lot like Bryce Canyon National Park, but it’s smaller, more intimate, less well known and much much less visited. On our last visit we wondered, “Is Cedar Breaks better than Bryce?

Photographer Sunrise Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

Cedar Breaks National Monument – WOW!

Cedar Breaks National Monument lies just above Cedar City, Utah, at a lofty elevation of 10,000 feet, ideal when the summer temps in the surrounding desert get unbearable.

Prior to visiting Cedar Breaks, we had an incredibly heartwarming experience while in Cedar City. Some of our readers might have missed this post, thinking it was just another bird story about the release of a golden eagle back into the wild.

However, if you have ever been a First Responder — working in law enforcement, search and rescue, fire fighting, EMT services or other professions that send you headlong into danger to help others get out of danger — this story will have special meaning for you. For those that have lost a loved one in the line of duty, this post will touch your heart.

It was one of the most moving experiences we have had in our nine years of travel. The link is here and also at the bottom of this page:

Eagle Whisperer & Healer of Angels – Martin Tyner of Southwest Wildlife Foundation in Utah

Soaring high above Cedar City, Cedar Breaks National Monument is a mammoth crater filled with pink and orange sandstone spires that jut up from the canyon floor like turrets in a fairytale castle. We snuck onto the trail before dawn to catch the soft colors in the sky above the canyon.

Sunrise Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

Sunrise at Cedar Breaks National Monument

Suddenly the sun peeked over the horizon.

Sunrise starburst Cedar Breaks National Monument Amphitheater Utah

“Here comes the sun…”

All the exotic sandstone shapes in the canyon came to life in vivid color.

Dawn Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

Early morning light at Cedar Breaks

Amphitheater Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

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The neat thing about hiking as the sun is rising at Cedar Breaks National Monument is that no one else is out there.

Sunset light Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

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Cedar Breaks is a quiet park to begin with, but at dawn the silence in this majestic canyon was broken only by the occasional bird chirping in the trees or the rustling of some small critter in the underbrush along the trail.

Dawn Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

Patterns of light and shadow dance across the canyon.

There are quite a few overlooks that offer slightly differing views looking down into Cedar Breaks from above or across the canyon to the colorful walls on the far side.

Colorful Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

Vivid colors — and dark pine trees — on the canyon walls

It is impossible to comprehend the size and scale of this canyon unless you are standing on the rim trying to take it all in.

Pinnacle red rocks Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

Looking down into the Cedar Breaks amphitheater

Looking down from above, the red rock turrets at the bottom seem miniscule, yet the the tall pine trees offer a hint of their size.

Orange rock formations Cedar Breaks National Monument Amphitheater Utah

The tall pines were dwarfed by the fairy tale spires.

There are no hiking trails that go down into the Cedar Breaks National Monument amphitheater of rocks. This is a canyon that is enjoyed entirely from the rim up on top.

pink rocks Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

We could peer down from the rim, but there are no trails to the bottom of Cedar Breaks.

Even though people can’t crawl around in the depths of this beautiful canyon, the local marmot population wanders freely all over the place. These little guys are quite fearless, and I was amazed at how close they let us come.

Marmot Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

A marmot pauses in the middle of his busy morning.

Cell phone and internet access is very sparse in this area, but I discovered that one place you can get a reasonable signal is at the overlook by the visitors center. One morning, I perched my laptop on the railing at this overlook, and started writing emails that were many days past due while I savored the view between sentences. Suddenly, I noticed a marmot was sitting on a ledge right in front of me.

Marmot Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

“Who are you writing to on your laptop??”

Darn if “being in touch with the world” on the internet wasn’t getting in the way of snagging a great photo at one of America’s most beautiful National Monuments!! What was I thinking doing email silliness instead of taking pics? Mark wandered by and snickered while he got a great photo of the little guy with the canyon in the background.

Marmot at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

A marmot’s eye view of Cedar Breaks!

But my camera was way down in the parking lot in our truck! Oh well. I just watched the marmot as he went about his business with grass in his mouth and I went about mine on my laptop.

Fifteen minutes later, when I finally put away the darn computer, I was amazed that the little guy was still sitting there right in front of me, doing his thing with the grass in his mouth. So, I ran back to the truck, got my camera and came back to the overlook to get some photos of him myself.

Not only was he still there, he was kind enough to pose for a few shots.

Marmot Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

This marmot did his thing while I did mine until I finally went and got my camera!

Cedar Breaks National Monument is home to one of my all time favorite hikes, the Spectra Point Trail. This trail follows the rim of the canyon from the parking lot right out onto a huge peninsula that juts out into the middle of the red rock amphitheater.

It starts with a fabulous passage through tall pine trees that heads towards the rim. The heavenly scent of pine needles nearly knocked me off my feet!

Hiking trail Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

Spectra Point trail heads through pine trees to the canyon rim.

We did this hike at dawn one morning, and as we looked back towards the parking lot, a dead tree was silhouetted against the colorful sky.

Dead tree at sunset Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

The bright colors of sunrise played behind an old dead tree.

This is an easy hike that has stunning canyon views the whole way. However, even though the path is wide and smooth, it goes uphill and downhill a lot, and being at 10,000 feet elevation, not only are the views breathtaking but you end up out of breath too!

Red Rocks Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

The views on the Spectra Point Trail were stunning.

One of the special treats at Cedar Breaks National Monument is the neighborhood of Bristlecone pines that lives near the end of the peninsula at Spectra Point. Many of these unique trees are 1,000 years old or more, and one beautiful biggie has celebrated its 1,600th bithday. We could see him standing half naked at his sentry point out near the end.

1600 Year Old Bristlecone Pine Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

A 1600 year old Bristlecone pine tree stands sentinel at the end of the trail.

As we walked out onto Spectra Point, the Bristlecone pines crowded in around us. These trees are the very definition of “gnarly,” with claw-like roots that snake across the ground without bothering to tunnel underneath.

Bristlecone pine Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

Bristlecone pine trees are gnarly and tenacious, hanging onto the rim of the canyon in brutal weather.

Life is tough here where they like to live, with high altitudes and strong winds, nasty cold winters and all too brief summers. I think these trees must slumber through life with just one eye open. Whole branches and trunks of these trees are totally devoid of any signs of life.

Yet there are a few branches on every tree that are covered in the softest bristles. For such craggy trees that are entirely bald and bent like little old grandpas, their short pine needles are as soft and as full of life as can be.

The 1,600 year old great-grandaddy Bristlecone of them all gave me pause for thought as I walked around and around it to try and fit its expansive branches into my camera’s viewfinder.

1,600 years is a very long time!

1600 Year Old Bristlecone Pine Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

A 1,600 year old Bristlecone pine tree – a true antique!

There are lots of tree species that live a long life. In Arizona, the “ancient” saguaro cactus that preside over the Sonoran Desert with a regal (and whimsical) air don’t even bother to grow their first branches until they are 75 years old. And the grand multi-branched 150 year old beauties that dot the scorching desert were mere babes when Americans were first settling the Arizona Territory.

But this Bristlecone Pine in front of me predated those juvenile saguaro cacti by centuries PLUS a millenium. It even predated the “ancient” Native Americans who roamed this area! The prehistoric Anasazi people of the southwest who left their artwork behind on canyon walls didn’t make their mark until this Bristlecone pine already had a few hundred years under its belt.

This tree put its roots down right around the time that the Goths sacked Rome!

And it has looked out on this fabulous view at the end of Spectra Point the whole time.

Sunset light Spectra Point Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

Spectra Point overlook at the end of the trail.

Besides red rock beauty and ancient trees, Cedar Breaks National Monument is also known for it’s incredible wildflower displays in mid to late July. The monument even celebrates with a special wildflower festival.

We got there a little late for seeing the blankets of wild color in the meadows, but brilliant yellow Snowy Goldeneye were blooming thickly everywhere, right up to the fencing by the visitors center.

Snowy Goldeneye wildflowers at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

Snowy goldeneye swarm a fence post.

Snowy goldeneye wildflowers Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

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There were a few other pretty wildflowers here and there.

Wildflowers Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

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We just loved finding a bright red Indian Paintbrush tucked in between some low lying pine boughs.

Indian Paintbrush in pine branch

Indian paintbrush — surrounded by pine needles!

The weather in late August at Cedar Breaks National Monument can be very unpredictable. While many folks in other parts of the country were enduring an intense heat wave, we got hit with lots of afternoon thunderstorms that made the nights downright chilly.

Thunderstorm brewing over Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

August is thunderstorm season at Cedar Breaks.

One day we even got a wild hail storm that left a sheet of icy pellets on the road!!

Hail storm Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

A surprise hailstorm left a layer of ice on the road… yikes!

Cedar Breaks National Monument is a little gem in Utah that gets overshadowed by the more famous National Parks nearby. But if you take your RV to southwestern Utah, a detour to Cedar Breaks is an absolute must!! There are some links for planning an RV trip to Cedar Breaks National Monument below.

Note: The road from Cedar City to Cedar Breaks (Rte 14) is steep and winding. If you have a strong engine in your motorhome or a strong truck to tow your trailer, it’s no problem. We towed our 14k lb. 36′ fifth wheel up the hill easily. Driving the road with your toad/tow vehicle first will help alleviate any concerns you might have (we did!).

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Moab Utah – Red Rocks and Snowcapped Mountains

March 2016 – Moab, Utah, is at the heart of some of the most majestic scenery that Utah has to offer. Situated between Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park, it is surrounded by fabulous, rugged red rocks and towering mountains.

Motorhome RV Moab Utah

Moab Utah in Spring is a dazzling mix of red rocks and snow-capped mountains

When we left the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park and Newspaper Rock to the south and drove up to Moab, our views were filled with stunning snow capped mountains framed by red rocks.

Moab Utah La Sal Mountains and red rocks

Everywhere we turned, we saw those magical snow-capped peaks with red rocks out front.

What a gorgeous mix!!

Red rocks and snow capped mountains Moab Utah

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Moab is the starting point for several scenic drives that fan out in every direction from town. It seems that any road you take is a Scenic Drive or Scenic Byway or Backway, and the views never quit.

Drive to Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky DIstrict Utah

There are scenic drives in every direction from Moab like this one near Canyonlands.

Snowcapped mountains and red rocks Moab Utah

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One day we chose a dirt road at random for exploring, and before we knew it we were high in the mountains, surrounded by evergreens, with the snowy summits right in front of us.

La Sal Mountains Moab Utah

A ten minute drive into the mountains and we were in the evergreens with snow on the ground

We just happened to arrive in town during Moab Jeep Safari Week. This is a wild week in March when Jeeps from far and wide descend on the town in the hundreds. Jeeps were crawling all over the place.

Moab Jeep Safari Week Rally

During the Jeep Safari Week Moab is inundated with Jeeps!

Jeep Safari Moab Utah

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They had a tradeshow going on at a huge outdoor venue, and we found all kinds of interesting things for sale. Jeepers have really clever camping goodies, and there were several vendors selling absolutely wonderful popup style campers that pop up, out and over a Jeep. We climbed the ladder into one built by Turtleback Trailers and laid down on the big bed with a 360 degree view around us. We were totally sold. What a fun way to get out on the back roads and into nature!!

Turtleback Trailers popup campers for Jeeps

Turtleback Trailers are super cute popup campers that give you a room with a view over your Jeep

We also bumped into the guys from Edge Products who sell the engine tuners we’ve installed in our trucks.

Edge Products Juice with Attitude Diesel Engine Tuner

At the Edge Products booth Mark gets the skinny on the Edge Juice with Attitude diesel engine tuner.

Lots of familiar RV goodies were for sale too, and I suddenly got caught up in a conversation with a fellow at the Dometic booth about RV refrigerators. He showed me a very slick portable Dometic fridge that can be operated as a freezer too. He mentioned in passing that his name was Jeff and he was a seasonal RVer, with a blog called Rolling Recess. Jeff’s wife, Deb, came over, and we suddenly discovered we have mutual RVing friends in common, Mike and Donna, whose blog is Flying the Koop. How fun!!

Moab Jeep Safari Week RV travelers at tradeshow

What a surprise to meet RVing friends-of-friends at the Dometic booth at a Jeep show.

We hadn’t been to Moab in years, and one of the highlights I remember from our previous visit was the coffee kiosk called Wicked Brew. Well, lo and behold, it’s still there. For coffee lovers out there, these guys make an awesome latte, and they top it off with a chocolate covered coffee bean. Yum!

Wicked Brew Espresso Coffee Kiosk Moab Utah

Wicked Brew — Wake up and smell the coffee!

Since Moab is in the heart of so much great outdoor country, it is inundated with vacationers every spring and fall. So, it has its touristy side. We came across a wonderful old west style tourist spot that happened to be closed and we had great fun getting pics of their props.

Cowgirl silhouette Moab Utah

We had fun playing with a collection of western tourist props.

Boot Hill tourist attraction Moab Utah

“Boot Hill” where the bad guys got buried with their boots on.

While driving around one day, we noticed a waterfall far in the distance. How could there be a waterfall in the desert? It turns out that this one is a fake. There’s a big pipe sticking out of the side of the mountain with water pouring out, so it’s called “Faux Falls.” But the waterfall it created as the water crashed over the red rocks below was very real and very beautiful!!

Faux Waterfall Moab Utah

“Faux Falls” is man-made, but the waterfall is very real.

Faux Falls Moab Utah red rocks

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One afternoon we drove the Colorado River Scenic Drive which goes along Route 128 from Moab out to the northeast. This was a lovely drive between steep canyon walls that eventually gave way to the open air at Castle Valley.

Travel trailer RV in Moab Utah Castle Valley Colorado River Scenic Drive

The scenic drive on Route 128 along the Colorado River to Castle Valley is gorgeous.

The beautiful snow-capped mountains peeked out at us from behind the red rocks, and we just had to stop and take pics.

Castle Valley Upper Colorado River Scenic Drive Moab Utah

Ooh… Look at that view and cool dirt road… Quick, grab the camera!!

It was selfie time, for sure. But with that kind of backdrop, who can resist??

Moab Utah Colorado River Scenic Drive Castle Valley RVers

Happy campers at Castle Valley

That afternoon was absolutely ideal, with warm air and bright sunshine. But our little flirtation with summertime didn’t last long. A wild storm front blew in, and we woke up in the morning to a whiteout of thickly falling snow!

Snow on truck in Moab Utah

It can’t be perfect and sunny ALL the time…!

The cold weather stuck around for a few days and we huddled indoors waiting for it to warm up. When the sun finally came out again, our little world around us seemed unfazed. Wildflowers showed their faces…

Wildflower Utah

After the snow, the wildflowers heralded the arrival of Spring.

…and the grounds squirrels did too.

Gopher ground squirrel Moab Utah

“I’m all right… nobody worry ’bout me…”
(sung by this guy’s buddy in the movie Caddyshack)

The stormy skies gave us some pretty sunsets as well.

Sunset over Moab Utah Mountains

A Moab Sunset

Sunset over mountains in Moab Utah

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Moab is a terrific place for RVers, with a wide variety of campgrounds and RV parks to choose from and loads of fun outdoor activities to take part in. No sooner did the Jeep people leave than a mountain bike festival set up shop at the opposite end of town. Like most visitors, we stuck around for a while to soak up all we could and spend some time in the National Parks!

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Valley of the Gods & Goosenecks State Park, Utah – Beautiful!

March 2016 – Just over the border of Utah and Arizona at the eastern edges of the two states, a few miles north of Monument Valley, lies a fabulous scenic drive through an area called the Valley of the Gods.

RV motorhome at Valley of the Gods Utah

Many RVers explore the Valley of the Gods on their way through the eastern AZ/UT region.

This is a 15 mile or so dirt road that winds through incredible rock formations.

Valley of the Gods rock formations Utah

The “golden hour” before sunset is a wonderful time for photography here.

Some of the rocks formations are reminiscent of the famous ones at Monument Valley, but this area is much smaller and much less visited.

Red rock formations Valley of the Gods Utah

A hand with a thumb similar to the more famous rock formations of Monument Valley!

It is a wonderful drive to do at any time of day, but sunrise and sunset are when the colors really jump out.

Tree at Valley of the Gods Utah

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When we were there in late March, we had the whole place to ourselves as the sun was dropping low in the sky.

Camping at Valley of the Gods Utah

What fun!!

This is a parched desert land, but it had rained in the past few days and there were still puddles on the ground that made for some fun reflection photography.

Tree and rocks Valley of the Gods Utah

Recent rain left puddles that were lots of fun to photograph.

Reflections at Valley of the Gods Utah

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Puddle Reflections Valley of the Gods Utah

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We were hoping for a colorful sunset, but the skies darkened before any pink or red hues had a chance to form.

Truck at Valley of the Gods Utah

No sunset, but very cool anyway!

Early the next morning, we did the drive again (it is well worth driving through Valley of the Gods more than once!).

Valley of the Gods Scenic Drive Utah

At dawn, the sun played with its shadow.

For brief periods, the sun penetrated the overcast skies and played with its shadow on the rock formations.

Sunrise Valley of the Gods Utah

The rock formations were filled with vibrant colors in the morning sun.

The most beautiful part of this drive is a two to three mile section in the middle where it makes a series of s-curves between the rock formations.

Road through Valley of the Gods Utah

I love curvy roads!!

Each formation is lovely, and even though the sun decided to call it quits for the day, the muted light showed off the majestic scenery without the glaring brightness and shadows cast by sunny skies.

Truck at Valley of the Gods rock formations utah

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RV camping at Valley of the Gods utah

The sun didn’t stay out for long, but the colors were still beautiful.

Valley of the Gods Utah Scenic Drive

This is a jaw-dropping drive!

Not far from the Valley of the Gods is a phenomenal road that climbs through a series of very tight and steep switchbacks up to lofty heights. It’s called the Moki Dugway. This road was built in 1958 to move uranium ore from the Happy Jack mine to Fry Canyon.

Moki Dugway Valley of the Gods Utah

The Moki Dugway is a hair-raising drive up steep switchbacks on a dirt road. But what a view!

We climbed up the switchbacks and 10% grades in our truck. At a viewpoint part way up we watched a Class C motorhome making its way along this insanely steep road. What a brave driver!

Class C motorhome climbs the Moki Dugway in Utah

A Class C motorhome braves the Moki Dugway

On another day we took a daytrip to Goosenecks State Park. This park is basically an overlook with sweeping views of a tight turn in the San Juan River, reminiscent of Horseshoe Bend in Arizona.

Goosenecks State Park Utah

Goosenecks State Park is a bend in the San Juan River, much like Horseshoe Bend near Page, Arizona.

I had always thought these two places were one and the same, but they are actually very different.

Horseshoe Bend has vast stretches of red rock sandstone slabs at the top of the rim> The Colorado River far below is blue, because at that point in its journey it has just emerged from the dam at Lake Powell. Goosenecks State Park has more of a crumble rock surface at the rim and has lots of vegetation on the canyon walls. At the bottom, the San Juan RIver is muddy and brown.

Overlook Goosenecks State Park Utah

Goosenecks State Park overlook.

Someone had placed a bunch of stones in spiral near the edge.

Rock Circles Goosenecks State Park Utah

What is this? Some strange meditation ring? A tourists’s artistic contribution to the state park?

Unlike the National Park Service’s Horseshoe Bend, which is overrun with thousands of international tourists and is free, Goosenecks State Park is $5 for day visitors, and $10 a night for camping on the rim, and there is hardly anyone there. When we stopped by, I doubt the daily fees were covering the salary of the gal sitting in the guard shack at the entrance!

Truck Camper Goosenecks State Park Utah

Goosenecks State Park has a handful of dry camping sites right along the rim of the canyon.

There were a few RVs parked along the rim. Some were camped in a cluster near the entrance, but one had claimed a spot far in the distance along the rim. What an incredible view out your RV window!

RV camping Goosenecks State Park Utah

Now here’s a fun spot to camp — with a view!

One RVer was enjoying the morning from his camp chair right at the edge of the overlook. How cool is that?!

RV camping on the rim Goosenecks State Park Utah

Now THAT’s a spot to put your camp chair!!

All three of these places — Valley of the Gods, Moki Dugway and Goosenecks State Park — are at the very southern end of the 3,000 square miles of Utah land that the Navajo and other Indian tribes are asking President Obama to set aside to become Bears Ears National Monument. This will protect their many ancestral archaeological sites that are scattered throughout the region. Currently, these areas fall prey to desecration and to mining and oil drilling activities.

National Monuments are under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service whose mission is the protection of national treasures. In line with their charter, the NPS usually takes a hard stance against free wheeling recreation, and they control access and use with an iron fist.

However, the land in question is currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, and even Utah State Parks, each of which has its own unique mission, from resource extraction to recreational use to tourism.

So, this unusual proposal will require these public land management agencies to cooperate in a way they never have before. With any luck, if Bears Ears National Monument is created, recreational use like scenic driving, hiking, biking and camping will still be possible.

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The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek (Bell Trail Hike), Sedona, AZ

March 2016 – We really enjoyed mountain biking the Bell Rock Pathway during our RV travels to Sedona, Arizona, and one day we got chatting with young neighbors in an RV nearby about where the good mountain biking and hiking spots were around Sedona. They knew the area really well and asked if we’d ever been to The Crack at Wet Beaver.

Mark raised an eyebrow.

“No, no, not that!” They said. “It’s a really cool gorge on Wet Beaver Creek. It’s a great hike, and if you take your bathing suits you can swim there!”

Bell Trail Hike to Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

“The Crack” at Wet Beaver Creek

The next morning dawned sunny and warm, so we took off on the Bell Trail to hike into the Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness to find this infamous Crack.

Beginning Bell Trail Hike Sedona AZ

The beginning of the Bell Trail hike into the Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness goes through open grassland.

The Bell Trail is named for Charles Bell who built the trail in 1932 for moving cattle, and a sign at the trailhead indicates it is still used for that purpose today. It is about 3.5 miles from the trailhead to The Crack. The trail goes deeper into the Wilderness, but we figured 7 miles out and back was plenty for one day.

At the beginning, we hiked through open grasslands and under a canopy of trees alongside Wet Beaver Creek. After about two miles, we came across a red rock cliff soaring into the sky with a tree on top.

Hiking the Bell Trail Hike Sedona AZ

A red rock cliff with a tree on top juts into the sky

For the next mile or so we walked through gorgeous red rock scenery as the trail hung onto the edges of bright orange hillsides and zig-zagged under exotic red rock formations.

Hiking Bell Trail Sedona Arizona

How’s that for a cool trail?!

We were hiking in the morning, and the sun felt good on our skin, but later in the day this desert landscape would become very hot.

Bell Trail Hike Sedona Arizona

Desert plants, like ocotillo cactus and prickly pear, abound.

We could hear the sound of rushing water ahead of us, and soon we saw the creek splashing noisily over river rocks to our right. What a nice spot for a picnic!

Bell Trail Hike to Wet Beaver Creek Sedona Arizona

We stopped for lunch in a quiet spot where the water rushed over river rocks.

The whole area was filled with leafless deciduous trees that must bring true magic to the landscape in the fall. And what a great spot to do some flowing water photography!

Bell Trail Wet Beaver Creek Sedona Arizona

Wet Beaver Creek polishes the rocks in its path.

We hiked just a little futher on and suddenly the landscape opened up to massive shelves of boulders stepping down to sheer cliffs that plunged into the water below. This was The Crack!

View Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

“The Crack” is like a red rock quarry with huge flat slabs of sandstone and water far below.

Our friends had described crystal clear water that was a lovely shade of blue, but the creek was running fast from the snow melt and had swelled so much that lots of debris had been stirred up as the water tumbled down from the mountains. The water was murky and filled with foam from the crashing waterfalls upstream.

This made for some neat slo-mo photos!

Swirls Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

The fast moving water from the snow melt created cool foam swirls

The Crack is a stunning spot that is so unexpected in the dry dusty desert.

Hike to Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona AZ

The canyon walls were steep and the surface of the water was foamy!

The huge flat boulders are really inviting, and we scrambled around on them for quite a while.

Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona AZ

I just love that tree growing out of the crack in the rocks.

Photography at Wet Beaver Creek The Crack

This little oasis was such a surprise after the dusty, dry hike to get here.

We had the place to ourselves. Other than the distant sound of rushing water, it was quiet and still.

Hike to Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

We had the place to ourselves…for the moment!

I ventured out onto a cool looking precipice hanging out over the water and Mark got my photo.

Diving platform Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

Little did I know that this is a favorite diving platform!

Suddenly, we heard voices coming down the trail. Two young couples appeared and set up beach towels right on that same rock precipice I’d been standing on and then stripped down to their bathing suits to get a tan.

“Are you going to jump in?” One girl in a bikini asked me.

I looked down at the murky water doubtfully. Diving into the its depths had not been on my agenda today!

Sunbathing Wet Beaver Creak The Crack Sedona Arizona

Sunbathers stretch out on the diving rock.

Then, I watched in amazement as she made her way down to a lower rock and jumped in. Brrr!! Then the other girl did the same.

“The water’s great!” They yelled out to me.

Well, I was happier taking photos of them than swimming, so I let them have all the fun in the water while I stayed warm and dry on shore.

They debated jumping off the rock precipice where they’d laid their beach towels, but because they couldn’t see the bottom — which they said you usually can — they decided not to. You never know what kind of submerged log might be lurking just below the surface.

Flying leap Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona AZ

The water was too murky to dive from the upper rock, but this intrepid gal jumped in from lower down.

The bathing beauties climbed out of the water using a rope that someone had secured in the rock, and they settled in on their beach towels for a while.

We left them and began to make our way back along Bell Trail. The trail had gotten really busy, and we were amazed that the silence of the early morning was completely gone now, shattered by the continual voices and footsteps of other hikers making their way to The Crack on this warm Friday afternoon.

A snort and a whinny up ahead alerted us to horseback riders coming down the trail. What a neat sighting at the end of a very enjoyable hike.

Horseback riding Bell Trail Sedona Arizona

A pair of horseback riders greeted us on the trail going back.

If you spend some time in Sedona, whether you travel there by RV or some other means, a hike on Bell Trail to The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek is a really nice change of pace. More info and links below.

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Bell Rock Pathway, Sedona AZ – Hiking & Biking the Red Rocks

February 2016 – We packed up our RV in Tucson, Arizona, when the daytimes highs began to creep over 90 degrees, and hightailed it back through Phoenix and on up to Sedona where the 4,000′ elevation makes the climate about 10 degrees cooler than down in the Sonoran Desert regions of the state.

We hadn’t been in the red rocks in over two years, and when we first caught sight of the towering red cliffs and rock formations that envelop the town of Sedona, we were almost breathless with excitement. We couldn’t wait to hit the trails, and one of the best places to immerse yourself in red rock scenery is right in the heart of it all on the Bell Rock Pathway.

Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Mountain Biking

Within a few moments of getting on the Bell Rock Pathway, hikers and bikers are immersed
in the best of Sedona’s red rock scenery

We were joined by special friends, and we set off on our mountain bikes.

Ready to ride bikes on Bell Rock Pathway Sedona AZ

Our friends Rich and Mark join us to ride the red rocks!

Bell Rock Pathway is one of the most popular hiking and biking trails in the area, and it is inundated with bus loads of tourists every day. But we were on the trail fairly early on a weekday morning, and there were just a few hikers here and there.

Hiking and biking Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

Bell Rock Pathway is shared by walkers, joggers and mountain bikers,
but there’s plenty of room for everyone.

The magic of the Bel Rock Pathway is that you don’t have to go very far to be totally wowed by the scenery. In fact, we always find we get swept up in the stunning scenery right in the parking lot, and many of the bus loads of tourists never make it past the asphalt!

Bell Rock Pathway Mountain biker and jogger Sedona AZ

What a place to go for a run — or a bike ride!

Bell Rock Pathway is beloved by walkers, joggers, and mountain bikers, and the path is wide and relatively smooth and extraordinarily scenic.

Jogger and biker Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

The views are great in every direction!

The Bell Rock Pathway parallels the main road, and there are three parking lots that give you access to the two ends as well as the middle of the trail. We started at the southern end, and the trail climbed steadily for about a mile. But the jaw-dropping vistas were worth every huff and puff as we went along.

Mountain bike Bell Rock Pathway Oak Creek Arizona

As soon as we got a little distance from the parking lot we had the trail to ourselves.

Bell Rock Pathway is a very easy mountain biking trail and is ideal for beginners. Yet there are just enough little challenges here and there to keep more advanced riders on their toes. The views become more and more spectacular with every pedal stroke.

Mountain bike Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

I couldn’t stop taking pics of Mark as he rode ahead of me!

After the first mile, the terrain goes up and down and sweeps around twists and turns qutie a bit. And then suddenly it opens up to this fantastic area of wide, flat rocks.

Bikers Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

After a mile or so the path opened onto wide flat rocks with outstanding views all around us.

Standing in the middle of this wide open area, there are eye-popping views every way you turn. It literally doesn’t matter which direction you look, you are surrounded by majestic, towering red rock formations.

Flat rocks MTB Bell Rock Pathway Arizona

These flat rocks are an ideal spot to take a breather and look around!

And then the trail takes off again, descending through wide turns.

Mountain bikers on Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

The middle portion of the trail sweeps through turns and rolls up and down small hills.

Bell Rock Pathway is a trunk route that has lots of little off-shoots, and all of those other trails are more difficult. We simply rode it to the end, about 3.5 miles from our strating point, and turned around to retrace our route.

Mountain biking Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

The Bell Rock Pathway is about 3.5 miles long one way.

The beauty of this hiking and biking trail is that the views on the way back are completely different than the views on the way out, and the lighting on the rock faces changes constantly.

Bell Rock Pathway Mountain Biking Sedona AZ

Weeeee! Bell Rock Pathway is easy and fun.

Riding behind Mark, I couldn’t stop clicking the camera, framing him inside of one magnificent view after another. Holding the camera up and riding one handed is a little dicey, though, and always makes for a rather exilharating ride!

Mountain Bikers Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

The return trip has all new views for us!

Mountain biker Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

Bell Rock Pathway is worth doing over and over again — it’s easy and it is stunning!

We enjoyed our bike ride on the Bell Rock Pathway so much that we came back to do it again a few days later.

Mountain bike Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

One very happy camper!

Mountain bike on Bell Rock Pathway Sedona AZ

We enjoyed riding our bikes on the Bell Rock Pathway, but most of the people out there were walking…

For RV travelers in search of a good way to get out into the Red Rocks without doing a strenuous hike or challenging bike ride, the Bell Rock Pathway is an ideal trail.

RV camping under the stars in Sedona Arizona

At the end of the day we all put our feet up under the stars…

Feeling a little rusty bike-wise? It might be time to get back on it again! Two years ago our 76 year old friend Marcel showed us that mountain biking is the Fountain of Youth (blog post here). Now 78, he’s still shredding the gnar out there, and all winter long he’s been mountain biking in Arizona!

More info and links for Sedona’s Bell Rock Pathway below.

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More info about the Bell Rock Pathway:

There are three trail head parking lots, and each one requires a parking pass, either the Red Rock pass or a Federal Interagency Pass (the old “National Park Pass” or Senior Pass). And be sure to get there early, especially on a beautiful sunny weekend.

Other posts from our RV travels featuring hikes and bike rides in red rock country:

Fun things to see and do while RVing in Sedona

Our most recent posts:

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Cathedral Rock at Red Rock Crossing – Sedona AZ

Sedona Arizona views around town are spectacular

Every road in Sedona is a stunner!

October, 2014 – After a brief stay in the mysterious and intriguing Navajo lands of northeastern Arizona, we headed south to Sedona.

We had spent several weeks here in the spring, but this is a place that deserves lots of return visits, so we were delighted to stop in town once again.

The spectacular views are utterly breathtaking, no matter how many times you have driven past them, and I couldn’t stop myself from getting some pics out the truck window — again!

 

Bronze sculpture of a painter in Sedona Arizona

A bronze sculpture of a painter recreating the scene while a little girl takes his pic.

The town of Sedona is a fun combination of funky, artsy, mystical and outdoorsy. On the artsy side, a large brass sculpture of an artist creating a painting on an easel stands in the middle of town.

The artist is painting the stunning mountains that line the horizon across the street while a little girl snaps a photo of him.

Skeletons outside a shop in Sedona Arizona

Two skeletons sit chatting outside a boutique shop.

On the funky side, two skeletons were sitting on chairs out in front of a boutique shop. They were gabbing away, as happy as could be. One of them waved “hi” to us as we walked past.

Another bronze sculpture depicts Sacagawea, the young Shoshone Indian woman who guided Lewis and Clark on their exploratory expedition of 1804-1806.

 

Bronze sculpture of Indian Sacajawea with her baby in Sedona AZ

A bronze sculpture of Sacajawea and her baby.

In the sculpture, she is carrying an infant in a papoose on her back.

Sedona is much loved for its mysterious and mystical side too.

There are vortexes in the area where people get in touch with their spirituality, sometimes experiencing unusual connections and awakenings

What we noticed, however, were the intense sunsets, a hallmark across all of Arizona.

Late one afternoon, the sky lit up in glorious shades of pink and purple.

Pink and purple sunset in Sedona Arizona

We see our first Arizona sunset after a season away.

During our previous visit we had seen some gorgeous photos of Cathedral Rock taken at Red Rock Crossing where Oak Creek reflects the brilliant red rock formation in its pools.

Cathedral Rock in Sedona Arizona

Cathedral Rock – without the reflecting pools!

Hiking along Oak Creek at Red Rock Crossing in Sedona Arizona

The hike along Oak Creek

There are two ways to get to this spot, either by going through Red Rock State Park or by driving down Verde Valley School Road to the end.

We chose the latter method and followed the trail through some woods and across a large flat grassy meadow where Cathedral Rock loomed at the far end, brightly lit by the afternoon sun.

Then the trail ducked into the woods again, roughly following Oak Creek.

Hiking along the base of Cathedral Rock at Oak Creek Arizona

A glimpse of the base of Cathedral Rock

At last the view opened up a little, and we could see beautiful red rock spires near the water’s edge.

It was a warm day, and we came across a group of people sun tanning on beach towels and wading in the water in swimsuits.

Besides getting a little exercise hiking, though, we were on a mission to see Cathedral Rock reflected in the watery pools, not to sun bathe. Unfortunately, we soon found out we were at the wrong end of the trail. So we turned around and headed back.

Passing the turn-off to our truck on the left, suddenly huge flat slabs of red rocks fanned out in front of us.

Kneeling in reverence at Cathedral Rock in Sedona Arizona

Mark kneels in reverence at Cathedral Rock — or is he checking the settings on his camera?

Recent rains had filled the crevices with water, making wonderful still, shallow pools that reflected Cathedral Rock in the afternoon sun — in bits and pieces.

The best way to get the reflections was to get really low or even lie on our sides and shoot across the water.

I walked across some dry rocks into the stream a ways and looked back to see Mark bending over his camera in a perfect image of solemnity and reverential worship at the foot of Cathedral Rock!

I had to laugh as I took his picture, and then I lost my balance and plunked one foot in the water, right up to my ankle.

Oops. Never laugh at someone enjoying a particularly spiritual moment, whether it’s with the Divine Essence or with their Nikon, especially in Sedona!

Cathedral Rock reflects in the pools of water at Red Rock Crossing in Sedona Arizona

Cathedral Rock is reflected in shallow pools by Red Rock Crossing.

Cathedral Rock in Sedona AZ is a perfect place for a portrait!

Sedona is for Lovers

Our stay in Sedona was just a few days this time, but we were so happy to be able to stop by once again and take in a few more of the exceptional sights there.

Here is some info about Red Rock Crossing:

Related Posts:

Trailer Life Magazine’s December 2014 issue features our article Arizona’s Red Rock Country, and you can read it here.

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Sedona Reflections on the West Fork Trail

West Fork hike Sedona AZ

Beautiful reflections on the West Fork Trail

May, 2014 – Sedona, Arizona, is an outdoor lover’s paradise.  Not only were we thrilled (and challenged) by the wonderful mountain biking in the area, but the hiking was incredible too.

The only problem we had was figuring out which hikes to do! Continue reading