Red Cliffs Recreation Area ~ Utah ~ Day 2

Day 1 of our 2 day trip to Utah seemed to be a little bit of a fail for us.  We got a late start which put us in the middle of the mass of people.  It made the beauty of Zion not so beautiful as we fought for prime viewing spots with the hundreds of the people that were fighting for the same view.  We are not used to planning our trips and going into Zion or any popular national park for that matter takes planning.  You can’t just wing it if you want the most of your experience. You don’t have full access to the land like we are used too; there are shuttles, road closures, so many rules and masses of people trying to do the same thing you are.  Lesson Learned!!

Day 2, our last day, we wanted to get away from the crowds and get back to the freedom to explore.  We saw something online about a short hike that promised a waterfall.  Without planning again, which most of the time we are good at, we started out early.  We got the kids packed, feed and out of the hotel by 8am and we were on the road to Red Cliffs Campground which was the start of the trailhead.  We took Highway 9 to 5300 W that took us around the west side of Quail Creek Reservoir.  When we got to the 15 Freeway we took a small road that took us under the freeway.  It looked as though we were going through a drainage pipe.  This was awesome.  These are the places we love to go.  We hit the campground in no time and found an empty parking lot for the trailhead.  Campers were just waking up and you could smell breakfast cooking all around us.  We sent the kids to go pay the $5 parking fee at the pay station before the parking lot.

The cliffs around the campground showed off their orange and red hues giving us a glimpse of what was to come.  We got the kids and packs loaded up and headed for the trail.  The trail for the most part is pretty flat.  There are a few ups and downs but any age can do it.  As we made our way into the canyon and towards the waterfall we saw new wonders around every corner.  There is an old tree stump that has an amazing shape with a hole that everyone had to peek through.  The trail descended more towards the stream as the canyon walls grew taller with a deep red hue painted through its veins.  After a short but beautiful mile we reached the first pool.  The kids wasted no time kicking their shoes off to check out the chilly water.

At first we thought that this was the end of the trail but we got back on the trial and headed north west up the steepest part of it, which really wasn’t that steep.  When we peeked the small hill the view did not disappoint.  The blood orange cliffs outlined the green valley floor coming together in the direction we were heading.  We got to the second pool and to the start of the most amazing part of the hike.  The trail ended onto sand stone of ripples of brown, orange and reds.  The waters of murky green swirled the sand around.  The depths of each pool unknown as the green darkened to black.  We had reached the end of the official trail but there was still more to explore.

We worked our way up the sand stone that gripped our hiking boots so easily which made it feel like you could walk up the canyon walls without falling.  We made our way over the stream to the other side of the canyon and turned the corner putting us in another room of the canyon.  The trail continued around the waterfall but you had to take the steps up the canyon wall with a knotted rope to guide you around.  The first kid made it over making it look effortless.  The second kid made it over with the help of Don.  Falling off the wall would drop you into a pool of ice cold water, depth unknown.  No one wanted to fall in!  The last kid was not as experienced as the other two and rode on the My Freeloader Backpack to get over safely.  The rest of the adults went over then I made it over.  The steps make it easy and I didn’t need to use the rope.

We stopped for a snack and to take a break.  The kids were finding all sorts of insects and cool rocks as we rested. At this point the trail looks like it can go along the water which we didn’t bring anything for water hiking, next time we will, there is also a small trail the runs along the canyon wall to the left that may go down to another area to explore.  We followed the water along the sand stone until we couldn’t go any longer along the water.  What to do when you can’t go along the water you climb up the canyon wall.

Up at the top you get a better view of the stream and canyon below.  It is a steep climb but do able.  We explored up on top for a little bit then headed back down.  We came across another group of people hiking, it was the first group we saw during our whole hike.  We wanted to head back to the second pool, the one that was at the start of the sand stone canyon.  We had to go back over the area that had the steps and the rope.  It was a little harder to go back over than it was to come up and the rope was very helpful getting back without falling into the deep pool below.  Everyone made it through without falling in.  We got to the second pool and the kids were kicking their shoes off ready to jump in.  The water was still ice cold and hadn’t had a chance to warm up, but the kids didn’t care.  They jumped in and swam, they even slid down the natural water slide.

After about an hour of swimming we headed back to the trailhead and to our cars.  The lot of about 8 spots were now full and the campground was alive with the hustle of the day.  We loaded everyone up about noon and started our long drive home.  We could tell that this was not only a great hike for us but for the kids as well.  They couldn’t stop talking about it all the way to California.

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Hiking Stats

State:                     Utah
Trailhead:            Red Cliffs Recreation Area
Miles:                     About 2-3 miles
Fees:                       $5 for day parking
Access:                   Red Cliffs Campground
Trail:                      Red Reef Trail

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Terry says:

    Looks like the family had an awesome time, good move getting away from the crowds!

  2. Sarah Gormin says:

    What time of the yr did you go?

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