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This blog is sponsored by Merrell and ShopStyle for the “Hike Your Turf” campaign. Use code MOONMOUNTAINMAN to get 25% off one full price item until 12/24/2020 at Merrell.com

A week ago while sitting around talking with a friend, we got on the topic of Covid19 travel restrictions and how the pandemic had cancelled many of our travel plans this year. Although disappointing, I expressed how lucky we were to be “Forced” to stay near home and spend more time exploring our home turf, especially now during this time of year that is referred to as “Desert Season” by those in the know.

“Desert Season” is a sub season that comes around ~October to ~Early December and then again from ~March to ~early May. This is hands down my favorite time to visit the desert because the temperatures are mild (Highs between 75-55 and lows 55-40) and there are far fewer people out compared to, in my opinion , the unbearable hot summers. For this year's Fall Desert Season, I spent a few days around Moab Utah, hiking some of my favorite trails in the area. Here is a list of the day hikes I did (from shortest to the longest) with a bonus stop.


Dead Horse Point State Park

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Dead Horse Point State Park

30 miles by road from Moab, UT is Dead Horse Point State Park. This is a small park with big views. The park has one road leading thru it with a few overlook pull outs before reaching the end of the road where the main overlook and picnic area is located. I think the majority of people just walk the 200 ft to the heavily developed main overlook with shade structures and railing but I highly suggest hiking the east and/or west rim trail from that parking lot to get best natural views and experience while visiting. During my visit, I parked at the end of the road and hiked about 1 mile of the 3.5 mile West Rim Trail overlooking the Colorado River 2000 ft below.


Corona Arch

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Corona Arch

Just 12 miles from Moab down the Potash Road, that offers amazing road side rock climbing, is the Corona Arch Trailhead. This 3 mile round trip hike makes for an enjoyable short hike to see one of the most iconic arches in the State. Although this trail is short it does gains 400 ft of elevation up sand stone stairs and steps cut into slick rock with cables to give aid on the steepest sections. Looking up at this massive iconic arch is well worth the effort. Best time for this hike, in my opinion,  is in the afternoon as shown here.


Fisher Towers

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Fisher Towers

23 miles by road from Moab in Castle Valley is one of the most unique places in Utah, The Fisher Towers. These monolithic mud drip towers are like nothing else I've seen. The 4.4 mile round trip hike meanders up and down slick rock, thru small washes and around towers to “The Titan” ( The Tallest Freestanding Tower in North America). To be honest, between getting caught up taking photos of the towers, Castle Valley and rock climbing the famous Ancient Art Tower, I haven’t made it to the end of the trail in years. The trail is just too good to pass up and well worth the drive into Castle Valley. I strongly suggest to bring a headlamp and hike this at or near sunset for the best light.


Chesler Park, Needles District, Canyonlands National Park

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Chesler Park, Needles District, Canyonlands National Park

80 miles by road south of Moab is the gem of the Canyonlands National Park - the Needles District. Elephant Butte Trailhead is where I began hiking, and this time of the year I saw only a handful of people during my entire hike. This area has a lot of trails and no cellular service so a map is essential and can be obtained either online or at the visitor center. Once you have your map, you can begin this 11 mile out and back hike. From the trailhead follow the most direct route to the Chesler Park overlook which is located 3 miles in. The views from there are fantastic and worth the hike alone. From there continue hiking thru Chesler Park passing the CP1 and CP2 backcountry campsites to the Joint Trail which leads down the stairs into a non technical slot canyon at about 5.5 miles from the trailhead. Explore the slot canyons system there for as long as you want before returning back to the Elephant Butte Trailhead the way you came. If you have more time and plan your visit far in advance, I highly recommend getting backpacking permit to stay at one of the 5 stunning campsites in Chesler Park and adding on a visit to a massive Druid Arch.


Looking Glass Rock

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(Bonus) Looking Glass Rock

Looking Glass Rock, although not a hike, this off-the-beaten-path stop is worth your time for its unique features, photogenic qualities and, for the adventurous, easy multiple pitch rock climb to the top that ends with a free hanging rappel. I stopped here early in the morning while on my way to the Needles District of Canyonlands to drink my coffee and watch the sunrise across the desert.


What to bring (Specific to the Desert and Time of Year)

-Footwear- Having good comfortable footwear is obviously important when going hiking but something specific to consider for the Utah Desert, with its miles of Slick Rock, is having good Vibram Soles on your shoes as you work your way up and over the sand stone. My shoe of choice this trip was the Merrell Nova 2. I found these shoes to be very comfortable for my feet, and the aggressive Vibram Sole design keeps my feet stuck to the steep Slick Rock sections of trails.

-Puffy Coat- Although day time temps can be perfect T Shirt weather, colder weather can roll in, even with snow, and night time temps are guaranteed to be cold so I'd recommend to bring a medium weight puffy coat. For this time, I used the Merrell Whisper Rain Insulated Jacket. I found this jacket to be perfect for the coldest temperatures on my trip, and it also had a seamlessly built in waterproof shell feature.

-Offline Maps- Most of the places I visited on this trip, and the Utah desert in general, don’t have reliable, if any, phone service so make sure to download all necessary maps onto your phone for off line use and/or have hard copies. Although I do have hard copy maps, I generally use Google maps on my phone for driving directions, and The Gaia GPS maps app on my phone for my trails. If you decide to primarily rely on you phone like me, just make sure to also carry a extra battery bank to charge your phone if it runs out of battery.

-Water- This is obvious during the summer heat, but just as important during the cooler months as there is no water other here.


This blog is sponsored by Merrell and ShopStyle for the “Hike Your Turf” campaign. Use code MOONMOUNTAINMAN to get 25% off one full price item until 12/24/2020 at Merrell.com





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