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Grand Staircase Expedition (Was North Rim)

13246 Views 100 Replies 25 Participants Last post by  skersfan
Grand Staircase Expedition

If any of you are SERIOUSLY INTERESTED, post up. I will limit the run to ten rigs and I'm posting the interest list here, not on the Blue Forum. If I don't get much/enough interest here, I'll resort to the Blue Forum later. Please ask to be put on the stand-by list if you are not SURE you are going. We all know that stuff happens in life, but "sure" means "sure".

Vehicle Requirements: - you must meet these simple criteria or don't go.
-Skid Plates (you decide how much you need)/Sliders
-15 gallons of spare fuel (you'll need it)
-attitude (just look at Skersfan and you'll know what I mean)
-relocate your rear differential and e-locker breathers (Scuba Driver Mod) for the water crossings. I don't expect deep water at this time of the year. It might not be more than a trickle depending on how "early" winter comes. But better to be prepared and the cost in time and materials is nominal. (**If anyone needs help doing it, let me know and I'll help you. If a few need help, we may do a "Scuba Driver Party and order Pizza or something)

Rigs on the trail.

Desirable but not mandatory:
All-Terrain or better tires (which means that you are likely to have problems with the OEM tire traction)
High Clearance (if you have skids but no clearance, we can always winch you along on your skids)
Rear shackle in hitch mount
CB Radio/Ham Radio
Pull Pal
Sand Ladders
etc. - Everything you think you'll need.

Tentative Wilderness Trek list -- LIMIT 10 Rigs I know that people drop out, etc. So if there are more than ten people/rigs interested in going, we'll do a back-up list.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008 – Travel to Kanab, Utah

It’s a full day to get there from the Southern California area and I recommend you find a hotel to spend the night, rest and take a shower. The Holiday Inn Express (Kanab) is a new facility and it’s near the center of town, though there are several other inns you may want to consider. Since everybody likes to drive at different speeds, you can make your way here with a buddy or race/poke on your own.

Thursday, October 2, 2008 – Parnunuweap Canyon & Buckskin Gulch

We’ll meet at 8am at the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Express and will have breakfast at a great restaurant in Kanab. We’ll leave Kanab at 9:30 and will do the Parnunuweap Canyon run.

VOLHOO in Parnunuweap Canyon - that's not a glamor shot - that's the actual road/trail/whatever you want to call it!

PARNUNUWEAP CANYON – Trailhead - About a 30 minute drive from Kanab adjacent to the Pink Coral Sands State Park. Spectacular scenery up in the “back” of Zion’s National Park. The trail is about 15 miles long and should take 8-10 rigs between 4 and 5 hours to run. The first part of the trail is heavy sand, the last is a series of about 20 river crossings (Virgin River).

UPHILL crossing the Virgin River.

Following this run, we’ll be back on pavement for about 40 miles along Highway 89 to the Buckskin Canyon Road. We will explore Buckskin Gulch, Wire Pass and will be camping near “Middle”, close to the Paria River.

BUCKSKIN GULCH - The longest and deepest slot canyon in the Southwest, and while others are narrower and more photogenic, the length and variety of the terrain in the Gulch make it the best overall. The canyon is narrow for 12 miles; the cliffs become steadily higher downstream, reaching a height of 500 feet above the streambed at the end, where Buckskin Gulch meets the Paria River, which also flows through a deep canyon for several miles around the confluence. There is petrified wood in the area. An official campground is located near Wire Pass but depending on occupancy, there is a small bit of BLM land outside of the “existing camping areas only” restriction where we can camp about 5 miles from there.

Wire Pass

Middle Road is difficult, rocky and you descend into a canyon along a cliff-face. It should be fun.

Friday, October 3, 2008 - Pareah Ghost Town, Cottonwood Canyon Road & Grosvenor Arch

GHOST TOWN - We’ll start the day on a short run to the Pareah Ghost Town site. It was the location of filming for part of “The Outlaw Josie Wales” with Clint Eastwood. The movie set was burned down in 2006, but we’ll be close and it’s worth seeing.

Following the Ghost Town excursion, we’ll backtrack back to pavement and will run down Highway 89 to Cottonwood Canyon

COTTONWOOD CANYON - The surface for the first few miles, along the top of the Paria Rimrocks, is very ridged and bumpy as the road crosses wide open, rather desolate and empty terrain with undulating badlands, grey to brown in colour with no covering vegetation. The track eventually drops down into the Paria River Valley - across a wide flat area that is occasionally flooded then along beneath crumbling cliffs at the east side of a low canyon that begins a little way upstream. The Paria soon turns away northwest at the junction with Cottonwood Creek; road then follows creek for the next 10 miles, along a very straight canyon bordered by the upturned strata of The Coxcomb - an elongated series of ridges running along the valley, created by erosion of upwardly-pointing folded rock layers.

The rocks at either side have strange faded whitish-grey colours; steep, tilted cliffs again with almost no trees or bushes. There is a general air of remoteness, only slightly spoilt by rather conspicuous telephone wires that run alongside the course of the creek, which is dry for most of the year.

We'll stop at Grosvenor Arch for lunch.

From this point we will head deeper into the Grand Staircase along Four Mile Bench Road to Horse Mountain Road to Death Ridge Road, camping along Alvey Wash Road for the night.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Saturday is an "open day" and we'll discuss possible routes of travel. Options: Lake Powell (the part nobody drives to), Kelly Grade Overlook, etc. to end up back on the west side of the Grand Staircase for camping at the end of the day - in the Vermillion Cliffs or maybe along the Great Western Trail & White Cliffs area.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Return to civilization. :-[
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Man my luck just sucks on these expedition runs.

My son and his wife are to have their first child on 27 September. We will be back in Missouir during this time period. And this is one trip I would really loved to have made. You guys are going to have a ball. I doubt there is anything that could change my plans, but if there is I would love to do this.

Anyway it is a girl and her name will be Payton Denise. Pretty excited as this is my first and at 61 that is unusal. I just can not miss it for any reason.

Larry we will figure out a run some time I promise.
Looks like its gonna be another Awesome run.. :)
[iIf you're going on this run, you MUST take the trip seriously because there are going to be a few challenging spots. Not impossible, just challenging.

Making a trail

Interesting approach angle (not a doctored photo)



The dash tilt-o-meter is well past Oh Crap!

Thanks to Vince/VOLHOO for taking the photos.
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Put me down as a tentative yes, I will be in as long as I am not sent off to Iraq, which unfortunatly became a possibility this week.

Place me on the tentative/stand by list... will know more soon, let others have a go first that are sure.
Just confirming that I'm still in.

This will be the trip of a lifetime and I wouldn't miss it for the world! Thanks for putting it all together for us Larry.

FunJunkie said:
Put me down as a tentative yes, I will be in as long as I am not sent off to Iraq, which unfortunatly became a possibility this week.
Oh no; Mike are you serious? We seriously hope you do not have to go 'over there'. We will keep you guys in our prayers and hope you don't get sent off.
We won't be able to do this run either. Mo has a 2wd. Bummer!!! Looks like it's going to be fun; hope you all have a GREAT time and we will look forward to the pics.
Confirm me on this new thread
One of the places we'll visit on this trip is the "Coal Seam Fires" on the s/e side of Grand Staircase (Oct 4th).

Coal seam fires burn throughout the world. These fires have been burning for an estimated THOUSANDS of years. The fires were ignited by lightning strikes, wildfires, or spontaneous combustion. {In the case of spontaneous combustion, heat is generated when coal chemically reacts with oxygen (oxidation) and moisture (the “heat of wetting”). These chemical reactions can take place at the surface with atmospheric oxygen and precipitation or in the shallow subsurface with seasonal fluctuations of the water table.}

Once ignited, the coal is reduced to ash, and its volume can decrease by more than 90 percent. Overlying rocks can then collapse into the resultant void space. Cracks formed by collapse can propagate to the surface, which allows more oxygen to reach additional coal below the surface and keeps the fires going. I think you'll find that this feature is well in keeping with the landscape and it will be a short stop - but an interesting one.

Note: A troubling result of uncontrolled coal fires is the release of carbon dioxide (CO2), the greenhouse gas that has the biggest impact on global warming. Some researchers estimate that coal fires in China alone release as much CO2 as all cars and light trucks in the United States, or roughly 2 to 3 percent of the annual worldwide emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels.
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The Last Night on the Trail (Oct. 4th)

As mentioned above, I'm thinking about a camping spot in the White Cliffs area (about ten miles from Kanab). One point of interest in that area is "The Monkey House". The Monkey House was built in 1896. d*** Woolsey and his wife lived there for fifteen years with a large pet monkey. The Monkey had its own house and accessed the main house by way of a pole. It's not far from "Mollie's Nipple", a prominent mountain (7200') that looks as if it might indeed have been a replica of ::) Mollie's Nipple. The house is on National Park land and is a about a mile walk from the nearest road. There is a ranch in the area aptly named "Nipple Ranch" and a lake named "Nipple Lake" near the Monkey House.

Mollie's Nipple and Nipple Ranch at sunset.

Arial view of the same shot above.

Ok, the Monkey house might or might not be worth walking a mile to see. It's essentially a stone shack that was considered livable in 1896. We'll see how tired we are after three days on the trail.

P. S. There are three prominent mountains called "Mollie's Nipple". One is located near Hurricane, Utah. One is in Northern Utah and one is located in the Grand Staircase. My only conclusion is that many Utah people knew what Mollie's nipple looked like back when they were naming mountains. ;D

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Nice additions to the adventure Larry.. Thanks.

I've seen Mollie's Nipple a number of times, but I don't think we are talking about the same thing. ;)
Just checkin if I'm on the list?? Screw tennative and make it hell yeah!!

This is one of those things that irritates me for not getting the 4WD....I can't go!
The Grand Staircase area roads are not uniformly difficult or treacherous but the advisory is for "high clearance 4x4". I haven't run some of those roads for a long time and can't comment on a degree of difficulty.

The first day's run though the area west of Kanab and down into the Virgin River are mandatory 4x4 because I've done it recently with VOLHOO and we'd spend the entire day digging you out in a 4x2. I know you don't doubt me, I'm just re-stating the situation. I wish we could include 4x2. The campsite on the second day may be too difficult to reach in a 4x2 as well because of deep sand on the route. I am not sure what we're going to find there.

After the first day FJVP "might" be able to make it in a 4x2 to spite the cautionary advisory. I just don't know. The 4x2 FJ can go most places that the 4x4 can go with the exception of deep sand and horrible rocks. I don't expect rocks that you couldn't get over in a 4x2 - with spotting, but the sand is one of those things that will bog you down and there are MILES of very bad sand on the first day.

When I say "very bad sand", I anticipate that we'll have at least a couple of the 4x4's get bogged down on the route. Climbing out of those river crossings require that the front wheels are actively "pulling" you out as well.

They pay off is SPECTACULAR scenery where most people don't ever go - the road less traveled.
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FJVP said:
This is one of those things that irritates me for not getting the 4WD....I can't go!
Go get a 4x4, and we'll take a day to break your rig down back to stock then swap everything back over to your new one.
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