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Grand Staircase Escalante NM - Observed There?

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#26 lintonius

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 12:49 AM

I simply drove south of town on some dirt road for about 20 minutes, stopped and set up. No one came by all night and it was one of the darkest nights of observing I've ever had.


Hmm... Smoky Mountain Road, by any chance?
I haven't been out on that *yet*, but it was recommended by a NPS Ranger from the North Rim. Apparently, it goes all the way down to Badwater, near Page, but there's a serious 4WD section near the midway point. Anyway, that was the darkest place she'd ever been.
A friend of mine from L.A. was out on Hole-in-the-Rock Road several years ago, with a bunch of other astro-fanatics after a week at the North Rim GCSP, and he and the others thought it was the darkest place they'd ever been. I'm seeing a pattern here. :)
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#27 lintonius

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 01:07 AM


North of Boulder on Route 12, below the rim of the Aquarius Plateau. Just as the road turns decisively north you will find a turnout with a panoramic view of SE Utah. Nearby are two-tracks leading to various very un-offiicial camp sites. Get off the road and set up. About 9,500 feet. Gets my vote as one the best observing sites in the U.S. Black, black, black.


But watch out for the large number of cattle grazing open-range in this area, including quite a few wandering along the pavement of Route 12 itself! Many of the cattle are not inclined to be in any hurry to move out of the way of an approaching car, and a substantial portion of them are of a variety which has black coloration. Or at least that was true in summer 2012 when I made that trip.


Yeah, the cattle can be be a problem, especially the Black Angus, but at least they move slow. But deer and elk are more problematic, as they're more prone to darting out in front of you. :shocked:
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#28 lintonius

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 02:18 AM

Jack, just wow. Thanks a million for the great information! You've given me a lot to think about. Right now I'm seriously considering heading down Hole-in-the-Rock Rd. to the primitive camping area near Sooner Rocks. There's also camping allowed in previously disturbed areas within 50 feet of the road along FR260, FR275, and FR280 as alternative options, as is the Cutoff Road near Little Death Hollow that you pointed out. Since I'm going to be there for four days and nights I'd rather set up a camp than try and poach something sleeping in my vehicle. From what I can see on the chart, the whole chunk of territory along Hole-in-the-Rock Rd. is in a black zone.

The area you mention north of Boulder sounds VERY tempting, but at 9500 feet it's gonna be c-c-c-old up there. Probably too cold for my thin desert rat blood this time of year. I'll definitely keep it in mind for early summer though. For this trip I think I'll try to stay below 5000 feet.

Once again. many thanks for the benefit of your years of experience in the area. It's obvious that you love the place. Although I've been to Moab and Canyonlands many times this will be my first visit to Escalante and I'm really looking forward to it.


Dpippel,
Excellent advice from Jack, there. Not too much I can add.
Sounds like your wanting to get off the main roads, so that eliminates a few of my ideas, such as Head-of-the-Rocks scenic overlook (about 5 miles north of Escalante), the Hogsback (a couple miles north of Calf Creek campground), and 2 of the 3 scenic overlooks going over Boulder Mtn... Steep Creek (?) which I believe Jack was referring to and Larb Hollow, which is further north, toward Torrey. (You can see the La Sal Mtns, east of Arches, from the latter - roughly 130 miles away!) These are all places you can/must see during your daytime hours. :jump:
Be sure to check on current road conditions. I read that Hole-in-the-Rock Road incurred major damage in the epic rainstorms we recently received. There may be others. Hell's Backbone is always a rough ride, but it's namesake Grill in Boulder is *highly* recommended, if you've got the cash to spare.
About 6-8 miles east of Boulder, on the Burr Trail, is a primitive campground amidst some lovely Junipers on the north side of the road. I've been wanting to try a couple nights there sometime. It's just before you start to drop down into Long Canyon, which is awesome to drive through. The Capitol Reef end of that road is amazing too, with steep switchbacks descending down the Waterpocket Fold and the Henry Mtns towering up in the east, beyond Strike Valley. :bow:
I'd urge you to set aside a little time for Capitol Reef while you're in the neighborhood, but then I'm somewhat biased! ;)
Linton

#29 bunyon

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 06:08 AM

No clue, Linton. I was following a distance relay run (called the Blue Planet Run) and found myself in Escalante for two nights. I had the scope with me and the lady at the hotel said it was really dark. So I just sort of puttered around until I found a road that ran south and I went. Not the most organized session ever but my log book shows dozens of very faint objects and lots of exclamation points. So it isn't just in my memory that it was excellent.

I've also observed at Natural Bridges, which was fantastic. But not quite as dark as the night south of Escalante.

However, despite many trips to southern Utah for one thing and another and about a dozen observing session over the years, I live in the east. Don't confuse me with someone (like many here) that knows anything much about the area. All I can say is, anyone who likes dark sky and magnificent vistas should get themselves there at least once.

I simply drove south of town on some dirt road for about 20 minutes, stopped and set up. No one came by all night and it was one of the darkest nights of observing I've ever had.


Hmm... Smoky Mountain Road, by any chance?
I haven't been out on that *yet*, but it was recommended by a NPS Ranger from the North Rim. Apparently, it goes all the way down to Badwater, near Page, but there's a serious 4WD section near the midway point. Anyway, that was the darkest place she'd ever been.
A friend of mine from L.A. was out on Hole-in-the-Rock Road several years ago, with a bunch of other astro-fanatics after a week at the North Rim GCSP, and he and the others thought it was the darkest place they'd ever been. I'm seeing a pattern here. :)
Linton



#30 dpippel

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 10:06 AM

Excellent advice from Jack, there. Not too much I can add.
Sounds like your wanting to get off the main roads, so that eliminates a few of my ideas, such as Head-of-the-Rocks scenic overlook (about 5 miles north of Escalante), the Hogsback (a couple miles north of Calf Creek campground), and 2 of the 3 scenic overlooks going over Boulder Mtn... Steep Creek (?) which I believe Jack was referring to and Larb Hollow, which is further north, toward Torrey. (You can see the La Sal Mtns, east of Arches, from the latter - roughly 130 miles away!) These are all places you can/must see during your daytime hours. :jump:
Be sure to check on current road conditions. I read that Hole-in-the-Rock Road incurred major damage in the epic rainstorms we recently received. There may be others.


Thank for the additional suggestions Linton. I'll definitely be doing some exploring and hiking during daylight hours and plan on just going where my whim takes me in that regard. I'm trying to keep this trip as unstructured as I can. Instead of having an itinerary of stops to check off I want to simply experience the place. Let it happen to me so to speak. As for Hole-in-the-Rock Rd., the latest road conditions posted by the BLM on 9/22 show that it's in fairly good shape. I plan on calling them today to get the most current info. If this route is compromised I'll look for an alternative, which could be the Cutoff Rd. accessed from Wolverine Loop.

#31 woodscavenger

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 12:06 AM

I am wishing I was there now. We were down in Green River, ut and Escalante,ut for a week this summer. I was not into astronomy at the time. What a missed opportunity. We spent three days doing canyons off of hole-in-the rock rd. Some washboard but with my 2012 Sequoia we moved pretty quick down most of it. Have a great trip.

#32 lintonius

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 02:30 AM

Thank for the additional suggestions Linton. I'll definitely be doing some exploring and hiking during daylight hours and plan on just going where my whim takes me in that regard. I'm trying to keep this trip as unstructured as I can. Instead of having an itinerary of stops to check off I want to simply experience the place. Let it happen to me so to speak. As for Hole-in-the-Rock Rd., the latest road conditions posted by the BLM on 9/22 show that it's in fairly good shape. I plan on calling them today to get the most current info. If this route is compromised I'll look for an alternative, which could be the Cutoff Rd. accessed from Wolverine Loop.


Fair enough. Play it by ear. You'll see a lot of these places without even trying.
Highway 12 is one of THE most scenic roads I've ever been on... and I've been around.
Oh... I think you'll like the DARK and transparent night sky, too! Have fun! :D
Linton

#33 dpippel

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 09:13 AM

Thanks guys! Starting to get stoked now that the week has started. I'm leaving early Friday morning and am calling today to get an updated road report. So far the weather is looking PERFECT for the four days I'll be there. This could be epic! :jump:

#34 dpippel

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 10:44 AM

Just spoke with Shannon (who was very friendly and accommodating) at the Escalante visitor center and it's a go! Game on! Anyone care to join me? ;)

#35 dpippel

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 08:41 PM

Called again today to confirm or deny that GSENM will be accessible during the shutdown. I was assured that it would be NO PROBLEM! w00t!!!! Come oooooooon Friday! :jump:

#36 seawolfe

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 04:20 AM

Lucky you!

I wanted to go to and am still planning on going to Lassen Volcanic. But currently the main road through the park, which by the way is a STATE road, is closed. So hopefully the government will be up and running again by next Tuesday.

Hope...hope...hope! :(

#37 dpippel

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 08:30 AM

I'll keep my fingers crossed for you seawolfe! I'm sure it will be all over by next week.

#38 Spaced

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Posted 03 October 2013 - 10:35 AM

I've added this thread to my personal favorites list, for future reference. What a wealth of information!

In 2001 I spent a week in Coyote Gulch (near Escalate) with my cousin, my daughter and my daughter's friend. It was backpacking only -- no astro gear other than binocs. In late May/early June high (for that area, anyhow) humidity prevailed, with almost nightly t/storms over the mountains to the west. But even so, we'd lie on the warm rocks at night and gaze at the universe.

One of these days . . .

#39 dpippel

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Posted 04 October 2013 - 07:29 AM

Well folks, with the exception of my C11 OTA, my bike, and a cooler I'm all loaded up and ready to go. Heading out around 6:20AM AZ time. I'll be posting a trip report when I get back. I hope everyone has a great weekend! Clear skies...

#40 dpippel

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 01:25 PM

Dark, dark, DARK...

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#41 dpippel

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 01:29 PM

And c-c-cold once the Sun went down. More later...

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#42 dpippel

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 01:39 PM

My Sooner Rocks campsite at sunset...

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#43 Megabusa

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 03:47 PM

I've got 5 days to burn next weekend and am seriously considering a solo trip here during New Moon. I've never been, and the Monument is smack-dab in the middle of some of the darkest skies in the United States. Has anyone ever observed there? If so care to share your impressions?

Well Ya , Grand Canyon (S/E) , Bryce Canyon ( N ),Zion (N/W) Monument Valley (E)I guess you can say I live right in the middle , Looking at Navajo Mountain & Grand Staircase Escalante from the front of my house :grin:

#44 Megabusa

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 04:12 PM

Looking out from the front of my house

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#45 Megabusa

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 04:14 PM

One More

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#46 dpippel

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 04:38 PM

Very nice! You're a lucky man.

#47 dpippel

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 04:43 PM

Looking out from the front of my house


I was all the way around the other side of Navajo Mountain at Hole in the Rock on Sunday afternoon. Just me and the ravens. Quite a long drive even from your place.

#48 Megabusa

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 05:42 PM

Looking out from the front of my house


I was all the way around the other side of Navajo Mountain at Hole in the Rock on Sunday afternoon. Just me and the ravens. Quite a long drive even from your place.

How about that ! Sunday we went to the top of Navajo Mountain with a friends 4X4 , We could see Rainbow Bridge ,Monument Valley , and what they think was Bullfrog Marina , I think We where looking at Halls Crossing , But I was voted down , If you look at the top of Navajo Mountain you can see some Towers ,We were about a few hundred yards pass the Towers , :watching: From Navajo Mountain to Home was I think about a Hour & 15 minutes ,

#49 Spaced

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 11:27 PM

I really like your "campsite" photo!

#50 dpippel

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 10:06 AM

Thanks Mike. For anyone interested in seeing more, here's a link to the album I put together with more images from my trip:

https://plus.google....573408602206...






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