Sunday, November 7, 2021

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument (Days 3-4)

The view through Double Barrel Arch
We left White Pocket early the next morning, through the soft sand trails and on to House Rock Road. Here we had scouted out a couple of short hikes that could be done in one day. First up was Double Barrel Arch. The hiking was easy to the base of the arch, then some scrambling got us intimate with the formation. It was worth the effort as the intricate details of the arch are really revealed when up close. We meandered a different cross-country route back to the car to see some more features nearby. 

Double Barrel Arch sits atop a sandstone formation

Our afternoon hike destination was only a few miles away by road - Vermilion Arch. This one involved some tricky route finding to ascend a sharp cliff, then on to the back of the canyon and the arch. After a good long break at the arch, we started back toward the cars. We hadn't gone far before Susan hollered out, "Condor!!" Sure enough, an immature condor had just flown over the edge of the ridge and began circling us. This last for well over 5 minutes as we gladly watched. Finally he had apparently decided that we weren't dead yet, and soared away. The tags on it's wings were "Z8." What little I've been able to find on this bird indicates it fledged September 25.

We camped overnight nearby, as Susan had seen some interesting rock features out in the untrailed desert that deserved attention. This was our goal for the next morning. We set out early on a meandering course and eventually came upon a fantastic ridge of sandstone with lots of great sculptures. I'm sure very few get out this way, as it's not on any trail, but we were glad we did. 

Our next destination turned out to be a bust. The intent was to drive to Snake Gulch and see the fantastic rock art of the canyon. But a recent flash flood had totally destroyed the road and stopped us in our tracks. Unfortunately when we researched this road before hand, the Forest Service didn't bother to update their website to the current unpassable conditions and listed it as suitable for all vehicles. Oh well, another day... A big storm was blowing in so we decided to make tracks for home, cutting our trip a little shorter than we'd have liked. But we had seen the incomparable White Pocket and checked that one off the Bucket List.


  1. Wow, Wow. What a trip. A Disneyland of rides through the most expressive countryside. Thank you for making my day in flatland Orange County.

  2. Yowsers! Nature sculpted geology of endless intricate and inviting forms. You really had some great finds. My kind of country - blue sky, red desert art, well placed wispy clouds, junipers. All that and a Condor! Plus, one of the best ever sunset photos. Whew. Thank you for all.