Zion Narrows Backcountry Trek closed

If there’s one iconic backcountry trip at Zion National Park in Utah that lures visitors from around the world, it’s the 16-mile hike through the Zion Narrows. On Tuesday, however, that trek was put out of reach when a private landowner closed his property as an access point to The Narrows. …

National Parks Traveler

It’s still possible to wade / walk part of the Narrows, but not the traditional route.

Hielo Azul circuit, El Bolsón, Argentina

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles 

Click PLAY or get a glimpse of my 3 day circuit on YouTube.

Getting to the trailhead at Camping Hue Nan is the most challenging navigation challenge.

You can road walk from El Bolsón as I did — 3 boring, dusty hours — or ask for bus directions to Camping Hue Nan. That trailhead may be changing. Check before you go. It was open to me February 2018

Look for the Acceso Refugio Hielo Azul sign.

I used the free Maps.me app and it worked perfectly for the entire circuit. On the other hand, I wished I’d hired a taxi or found the bus rather than done 3 hours of road walking.

Alternatively, there’s a way to start and finish a circuit by bus at Warton. The most popular trailhead.

You could reverse my route too, of course

El Bolsón, population 19,000 plus tourists is an excellent hiking town. It’s only 2 hours by bus from Bariloche, the bigger hiking destination in Argentina. Many hike both towns on the same trip.

Free registration is required. You don’t need to stick to your planned itinerary.

There are gear shops with camping fuel and fairly large grocery stores in town.

At the Mountain Information Office I bought a $4 amateur hiking guide partially translated to English. It’s not enough to navigate, but did provide some background information.

I was shocked to see some of the bridges here.

They are slowly being replaced by modern metal alternatives.

It was at least 1000m ascent and 4 hours up to Hielo Azul Refugio. My favourite alpine hut by far.

I was so happy to get there — and felt so warmly welcomed by the woman who greeted me — that I signed up for an 8pm $20 stew meal. My most expensive dinner in Argentina. (I brought my own wine.)

It really is paradise up here just below the glacier.

I paid $5 to tent.

Next morning I first registered at the mountain hut then scrambled the steep, 90 minute route up to the glacier. Beautiful.

I had some lunch on my return. Then set off on the clearly marked trail to Refugio Lago Natacion. An easy add-on.

From Natacion down to the Azul Canyon, however, was surprisingly steep and overgrown. Not many people do the circuit, I suspect, because this one section is quite challenging.

The canyon is impressive once you finally get there.

At one point you can straddle the gap, a long way above the crystal clear water!

I was reminded of Tiger Leaping Gorge. A tiger could easily leap this gorge, but not the one in China.

Tired, I decided to illegally wild camp by the river rather than walk the extra hour down to my designated refugio campground.

The trail out to Warton is a road accessible to motor vehicles. Swimming this river is the attraction, not the trail itself.

If my directions sound too sketchy, consider buying a map for about $10.

Aoneker 1:50,000 El Bolson 
(covers the following refuges: Co.Lindo, Hielo Azul, Natacion, Atillio & El Reramal)

Aoneker 1:120,000 Comarca Andina del Paralelo 42°
(covers all the refuges in the El Bolson region)

related – A Guide to Trekking in El Bolson, Patagonia

Buckskin Gulch / Paria Canyon, Utah and Arizona

Clever Hiker posted the best information on this classic hike we’ve yet seen.

Located in the Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness of Utah and Arizona, this spectacular and unique hike winds through one of the deepest and longest slot canyons in the world.

Wavy sandstone walls twist their way to the sky for nearly thirteen miles, creating surreal patterns of light and sound. The canyon walls often soar hundreds of feet above the wash, and are sometimes only a few feet apart. Buckskin Gulch is truly an amazing place …

Quick Facts

  • Distance: varies, 21-51 miles depending on trip
  • Days Needed: 2-5 days
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: varies, 500-1500 ft, depending on trip
  • Best Travel Time: April-June or September-November
  • Permits: Yes, very competitive
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
  • Shuttle: Yes, unless doing an out-and-back hike

Buckskin Gulch and Paria Canyon Backpacking Guide

7 great hikes S.W. USA

1. BUCKSKIN GULCH AND PARIA CANYON | 31 MILES | 4 DAYS

2. GRAND CANYON – DEER CREEK/KANAB CREEK LOOP | 55 MILES | 8 DAYS

3. GRAND CANYON – NANKOWEAP TRAIL | 40 MILES | 7 DAYS

4. ZION NARROWS | 14 MILES | 2 DAYS

5. COYOTE GULCH | 25MILES | 4 DAYS

7. ARIZONA’S GALIURO MOUNTAINS, THE PLACE TIME HAS FORGOTTEN | 32MILES | 4 DAYS

details – Take a Hike: 7 of the Grandest Adventures in the Southwest

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Coyote Gulch

best hike – Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

trip report by besthike editor Rick McCharles

Panoramic viewpoint > Rose Valley > Çavuşin > Love Valley > Uchisar Castle > Pigeon Valley > Göreme

For hikers Göreme is probably the best base for Cappadocia. You can literally go off hiking in any direction.  It’s got a good variety of restaurants and accommodation too.

On arrival in Göreme someone will hand you a FREE hiking map.

Most wander around with this thingfrequently getting lost. We could find no decent map nor guidebook in 2017.

For 6 days I hiked and cycled many of these trails, often lost, before finally deciding on what I felt was the best hike.

Ask the people at your accommodation in Göreme how to get to the Rose Valley Panoramic viewpoint. They’ll likely recommend a taxi and tell you the price. It’s about a 15 minute drive uphill from town.

There is a small entry fee for Panoramic viewpoint. The taxi may drop you outside the gates.

Here begins the Rose Valley trail. 5km to Caveusin. Most feel Rose is the best hike of all. And I’d agree.

Note that most of the trail signage is in Turkish.

There are many twisting and turning trail options. All are good but the very bottom of the valley might be muddy.

Rose is popular with cyclists, too.

Gorgeous, surreal scenery.

End of the trail is the village of Çavuşin.

If you haven’t yet seen enough Church caves — you might want to visit the World Heritage site Caveusin Kilisesi.

From Çavuşin you need to get to the Love Valley trailhead. Ask in town. It’s about 1km up the highway towards Goreme. (There are shortcuts.)

If walking the highway here’s the turn-off. These pink signs are the best of the admittedly poor and confusing trail signage in the area.

From there you can’t miss it.

Love Valley is the second best trail in my opinion.

Why they call it Love Valley I can’t imagine. 🙂

You can see here how those columns erode away from the valley wall.

It’s about 4km uphill to the end of the Love trail. If not lost you’ll finish at this tourist trap.

Bus tours stop and parade their unwilling passengers through the souvenirs.

Cross the highway and make your way up to the top of impressive Uchisar Castle. There’s a small entry fee.

Exiting on your way down ask for the Pigeon Valley trailhead. Look for these pigeons. It’s not difficult to find.

Some have reported seeing no pigeons in Pigeon Valley. We saw plenty.

Historically farmers built roosts for pigeons in the valley wall in order to later collect their guano.

It’s downhill to Göreme. A nice but often crowded walk.

Looking back to the Castle.

You might spend 4-6 hours including stops on this best hike.

Panoramic viewpoint > Rose Valley > Çavuşin > Love Valley > Uchisar Castle > Pigeon Valley > Göreme

click for larger version

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A shorter alternative would be to loop Pigeon to Love Valley. It’s a 2km walk up the highway back to Göreme, however.

We really need someone to put together a decent map of trails out of Goreme. Hundreds of thousands visit every year and almost all do some hiking.

related – Hike Bike Travel – 21 Photos That Will Make You Want To Hike In Turkey’s Rose Valley

Last Chance Canyon, New Mexico

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

Story goes that ranchers in 1881 got lost in the deserts. Had no water. With their horses failing they spotted the limestone walls of one more canyon. This would be their last chance.

My guidebook author called this one of my favourite spots in all of New Mexico.

It has plenty of water year round. A rarity in this part of the world.

I started late in the afternoon as it was only 2.7 miles to the recommended campsites.

Last Chance Canyon, New Mexico

The light gorgeous.

Last Chance Canyon, New Mexico Last Chance Canyon, New Mexico Last Chance Canyon, New Mexico Last Chance Canyon, New Mexico

Here’s that water that saved the ranchers.

Last Chance Canyon, New Mexico

Obviously this canyon floods at times.

Last Chance Canyon, New Mexico I checked out the campsites. Too exposed. It was very, very windy.

Instead I hunkered down in this more sheltered spot.

Last Chance Canyon, New Mexico

Having forgotten my bear bag rope, I instead tossed my food bag up into a tree attached to a loose branch. Ingenious improvisation I thought … at the time.

The wind blew it down during the night. Happily my food stayed undisturbed lying on the ground.

Next morning I had the option to try to loop to famed Sitting Bull Falls.

But to save time I opted to backtrack from here, visiting  the falls via the front door.

Sitting Bull Falls, New Mexico

As you probably would guess, the Sioux medicine man Sitting Bull never visited New Mexico.

This is a great hike. Highly recommended. We’ve added it to our list of best hikes in North America.

 

Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend TX

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

Note: We were there Jan 2017. Accessibility may change depending on what happens with Trump’s border wall promise.

Santa Elena Canyon is the single most popular spot in Big Bend National Park. Everyone stops here, even those who don’t normally hike.

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The nature trail crosses Terlingua Creek, climbs several flights of ramps and stairs and then descends into the canyon along the Rio Grande. At this point the canyon walls loom over 1500 feet above the river below. …

In my haste to get over to the Canyon, I took off my shoes and waded Terlingua Creek.

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That turned out to be a mistake. Everyone else found a way to cross keeping their feet dry.

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Nobody regrets taking this short hike.

And I did finally get a photo of a desert cottontail. Or is it a small jack rabbit?

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The best way to see the canyon is by raft or canoe. Local outfitters offer trips from one to three days in length when conditions allow, and river runners of intermediate or better skill level often go on their own. …

Visit Big Bend

Even better for me would be the difficult Mesa de Anguila hike along the canyon rim. Next time. 🙂

related – Texas GOP congressman slams Trump plan for border wall

“Building a wall is the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border,” Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.) said in a statement …

hiking Big Bend National Park, Texas

I’m planning to hike Big Bend for the first time. In January.

big-bend-park

hiking-big-bend-national-park
The Parks Service recommends:

• Desert Hikes
• Mountain Hikes
• River Hikes

As usual I’ll check with Rangers before deciding which hikes. Local information is critical in the desert. Backcountry Use Permits are required.

I’ll be mostly doing day hikes and one night tenting trips. Water is an issue, I understand, even in winter.

Unless you are walking the Rio Grande, of course.

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Santa Elena Canyon