My girlfriend and I were itching for a camping trip so we decided to escape the snow and cold of the front range and trade it out for heat, red dirt, and canyon walls. Being that Moab is only about 5 hours from my doorstep in Denver it is an easy escape plan. My girlfriend and I rolled into the Moab area of Utah around 11 am on a Friday in April. Showing up early before a weekend seems to be the only way to ensure you get a campground around Moab anymore. That or show up in the middle of the week. This time I had a specific campground in mind, one on my camping bucket list. Fishers Towers. I have wanted to camp at the base of Fishers Towers since I first learned there was a campground there.
Fishers Towers consist of two main formations, Titan and Ancient Art. They shoot up off the side of a canyon wall reaching towards the sky like rockets bound for space. They are sought after by rock climbers and photographers. The sunrises at the base of the towers are something to be seen in one’s lifetime. Unfortunately, being rusty and without the proper gear, we were in no shape to climb them. Regardless we wanted to camp there and being so early on Friday we gambled and drove up the road to the campground.
When we pulled into the campground, all of the spots were taken, except one right in the middle. This was not an ideal spot. Imagine camping at the low point of a campground surrounded by other spots with people looking down into your camp. We milled around waiting to see if a better spot would open and within minutes campsite #1 opened up. For those of you who have camped there, you would probably agree that this is the best spot in that campground. So, we scooped it in a hurry. Alexis and I quickly set up camp, cracked a cold one, and our first camping trip of 2017 was underway.
Later that day we headed into the town of Moab to get ice and visit the Moab Brewery, which is a must when you are in that area. On our way into town, we stopped across from big bend at the famous bouldering spot and decided to climb around for a while. When we did get into town we got a beer and some amazing habanero fries at the brewery, you got to try those fries. I know, not exactly ruffing it but hey, we were on vacation. Besides, Saturday we had our sights on the longest day hiking trail in Canyonlands. Once we were stocked up on supplies we headed back out to our campsite.
Being camped at the base of Fishers Towers we felt it necessary to hike the trail leading to the ridge beside it and watch the sunset. 2.2 miles of winding trail scraped up through the rock with ladders and spots for climbers to scale the giants in front of us. The trail provided amazing scenery and the sunset from the top was even better. By the time we headed down there was almost no daylight and flashlights were a must for playing don’t trip and die. That night was spent around a campfire, my favorite place to spend a night.
The next morning, we got an early start and headed back to Moab for more ice…this process seems to never end in southern Utah. We made it into town and got ice only to find that there was a Jeep Safari parade. Here’s a fun fact about Easter in Moab…there’s a Jeep Safari Parade Saturday morning and they shut down the main road. This blocks everyone in Moab from leaving for about an hour. So much for an early start. While this did delay our trip out to Canyonlands I must say seeing the 100 or so custom Jeeps roll by was pretty dope. Once that cleared up we were able to head out.
Listed at 8.3 miles on the sign we had hiked much more lengthy trails with more elevation gain. But, with that said this was a new
landscape and we were excited for a challenge. We started heading out clockwise and followed the trail to an immediate plunge into the canyon. I am talking really steep. The views were amazing and we were having a blast descending into the canyon.
Once on the canyon floor, we followed the trail around an impact crater that formed that area. Granted you cannot really tell as you are a little speck walking around the outside base of it but the thought is still cool. Walking along a dry creek bed and looking up at the canyon walls was simply breathtaking. Being that we did this in April the heat was not bad at all but it was still very warm.
We passed a few other people while hiking but for a national park, this trail was deserted. There was a light breeze from time to time and otherwise, we just listened to the crunch of our shoes on the ground. The trail was flat for quite some time at the bottom of the hike. The creek bed served as our guide and took us around the outside of the crater. The different layers of color running through the rocks was beyond comparison.
Finally, after some time we started to see the trail head upwards. There was this awesome staircase built out of rocks leading up to a section where you can walk to the center of the crater. We decided to leave that for another time and kept heading towards the end of the trail. Suddenly the trail shot straight up into the air. We were scrambling and bouldering and jumping from rock to rock. The “trail” ran over and under rocks, it even disappeared in certain spots leaving us to wander around until we found it. Honestly, it was beyond cool. Then it kept going up and up and up.
There was a point where we were both just beat from the heat and scrambling. We were shuffling along…still uphill and neither of us was talking. I remember breaking out a Honey Stinger Waffle for each of us. As soon as we inhaled them we were skipping along chatting and cruised through the end of the hike. We hit the parking lot and were immediately surrounded by tourists.
I would recommend this as one of the most scenic hikes I have ever walked in south-west Utah. The scenery was amazing and walking along the outskirts of an actual impact crater was just too cool. My favorite part was how deserted the trail really was. It was a challenging trail and I would say that a casual hiker could get it done but there will be spots that become difficult.
After our hike, it was back to camp at Fishers Towers. There we tried out our solar shower for the first time. We had filled it up earlier that day and left it out on a rock in camp to bake in the sun all day. We fashioned a little spot to stand and hung the shower from a tree. It worked great and the water was warm. To think all these years camping without this little device and I was just running around all grungy. That night we both passed out cold, exhausted from the day’s activities.
Our last day in Utah was spent back at Canyonlands National Park doing the tourist thing and driving around to see all the sights. I still feel to this day that Canyonlands is a highly underrated National Park and I don’t understand why it doesn’t get the same attention that Arches does. Besides with all the construction at Arches this year, it seems a natural choice if you are in the area and want to avoid headaches. -MU
Photos by Alexis Ortega and Martin Upton