A Hike to Calf Creek Falls (on the day before the government shutdown)

Anne and I have just returned from what is turning out to be our annual Utah vacation. It’s the 3rd year in a row for us to fly from DFW to Grand Junction, rent a car, and head out across the Colorado Plateau. So far, it’s not even close to getting old – there’s so much to see and do, even when the government shuts down and the national parks close their virtual doors. (Stupid government!)

At Natural Bridges National Monument, Oct. 1, 2013

At Natural Bridges National Monument, Oct. 1, 2013

Lots of adventure photos to post, but I’ll start with one of the highlights of our trip: the hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls, which originates at the Calf Creek Recreation Area (under BLM administration) off Hwy. 12, south of Boulder, Utah.

The drive from Torrey south along Hwy. 12 is itself a thing of beauty and wonder, particularly in the Fall, as the high country aspens spread their cloak of yellow gold across the mountainous terrain.

Along Hwy. 12, south of Torrey, UT

Along Hwy. 12, south of Torrey, UT

Arriving at the campgrounds, we located the trailhead and packed enough water and food for the six mile round-trip hike along a riparian strip centered on the perennial flow of Calf Creek.

Parking lot, Calf Creek Recreation Area

Parking lot, Calf Creek Recreation Area

The often-shaded trail is framed by sandstone domes and cliffs reminiscent of Capitol Reef or Zion. In other words: magnificent!

Dead tree and rock face

Dead tree and rock face

Wildflowers bloom along the sandy pathway, and the careful observer will spot ancient pictographs upon the far canyon walls (at trail marker 8, if you forgot to pick up the printed trail guide).

Pictographs, marker 8

Pictographs, marker 8

The payoff comes, fittingly, at trail’s end, where a 126 ft. waterfall plunges into a green pool below the overhanging sandstone cliff face.

Lower Calf Creek Falls

Lower Calf Creek Falls

Arrive before noon and you’ll be assured of enough sunlight on the falls for photographic opportunities. Shadow began to creep across the falls at around 1:30 p.m. while we were there (on Sept. 30), but by then we’d had time to enjoy a leisurely repast (including Subway sandwiches we’d purchased in Torrey) and taken plenty of photos.

Creep of shadow: Lower Calf Creek Falls

Creep of shadow: Lower Calf Creek Falls

There is no particularly difficult terrain to contend with on this hike, but distance itself provides considerable challenge for all but the most physically fit: slogging through the frequently unconsolidated sand saps one’s energy in effective fashion.

Asters, Lower Calf Creek Falls trail

Asters, Lower Calf Creek Falls trail

We consider ourselves fortunate to have visited this wonderfully inspiring locale, and recommend it to anyone seeking a less-frequented destination outside of the more heavily-trampled trails in the nearby national parks.

Desert varnish

Desert varnish

Once Congress gets their act together, that is.

Bee + Rabbitbrush

Bee + Rabbitbrush

Box canyon

Box canyon

 

Tradescantia (says Anne)

Tradescantia (says Anne)

Incipient arch

Incipient arch

Riparian pathway

Riparian pathway

Calf Creek: water and sandbar

Calf Creek: water and sandbar

If you’re still here, I can only assume you’d like to see more photos of the waterfall. So here you go:

IMG_5356-Edit

The upper part of Lower Calf Creek Falls. (If you see what I mean.)

IMG_5364-Edit

Falls and spray

 

Tree and falls

Tree and falls

Pool and outflow: Lower Calf Creek Falls

Pool and outflow: Lower Calf Creek Falls

Lower Calf Creel Falls, b&w

Lower Calf Creek Falls, b&w

 

Ejecta, Lower Calf Creek Falls

Ejecta, Lower Calf Creek Falls

 

 

 

 

 

 

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14 thoughts on “A Hike to Calf Creek Falls (on the day before the government shutdown)

    • Thanks Barneys! The pool may appear shallow but an adventurous chap actually waded into the ice-cold water to get a good photo angle (?) and was soon up to his crotch. Which precipitated a rapid retreat to the shore.

      • We live in the Sierra’s of Calif, where the local lakes are spring and snow fed all year. Cold water is normal, but I don’t go in. Of course, the Pacific is also very cold in this area.

        Great story

  1. This is my kind of hike… and in an area I love! Thanks so much for the extra waterfall shots. And yes, I was waiting for them. πŸ˜‰ They are magnificent! So glad you guys made it in before the shutdown. Hopefully, the stupidity will end soon. Beautiful photos! πŸ™‚

  2. My first preference is to hold down the like button so it would repeat about a thousand times. I must get to this locale. For me, the real magic is in the rock walls rather than the waterfalls. Thanks for giving me something to dream about today.

    • Mad Queen, they are indeed spectacular (the walls). Most impressive desert varnish I’ve seen thereabouts. And keep trying on that like trick, maybe you’ll achieve a breakthrough. ;>)

    • So true Sylvia. While at the falls, we struck up a conversation with a fellow who actually lives in Garfield Cty., and he opined that a person could go all his life without seeing all the wonders there to be found. (He keeps trying though.)

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