Gar, having just celebrated his 31st birthday and his graduation from the University of Washington with his Master's in Social Work, and I, decided to do our annual June trip this year to Las Vegas and the Red Rock casino/resort/spa -- a favorite of mine, and since 2007, the only place I'll stay in Las Vegas -- its a wonderful property. Gar has always wanted to see a slot canyon as well, and since we were in reasonable proximity to some in Southern Utah, we decided to take a day and head up to Zion National Park to check one out.
For those of you who don't know, a slot canyon is formed in very soft sandstone when very fast water rushes over it. They are excruciatingly narrow and very very pretty, and also very photogenic. They are amazing formations and only found in UT and AZ in the sandstone canyons. Below is a picture I took in Red Canyon, the second one we visited so you get an idea of what it's like.
We drove up to Zion, and on a Thursday morning, found it packed and got one of the last parking spaces in the visitor center lot. Zion is closed to private vehicles and one has to take a National Park Service tram into the canyon. We loaded in for the 40 minute drive up the canyon to the Narrows, and enjoyed the stunning beauty that is Zion Canyon. At the end of the road we got out, along with a few hundred other folks it seemed and started up the "paved walk" and into the Narrows. Once the paved walk ended we soon realized (no mention of this on the web page) that we would be wading in the Virgin River. No matter, we were wearing hiking shoes and short pants.
On Saturday we got up and drove back up into Utah, following the web page directions to Red Canyon. We had to traverse the only part of Zion Canyon that is open to vehicles to get there, and it was a spectacular drive -- one I think inspired John Lassiter when they did the scene in the Disney/Pixar movie "Cars" where Sally and McQueen go for a drive.
We found the ATV trail head and a small sign pointing down a dirt road that said "BLM-102". The road was somewhat sandy, and we were in a rented Ford Explorer with 4WD. While we were paused and assessing the road, a family riding a number of ATV's drove out and so I decided to ask them how the road was and if we could get down it and how far etc... The patriarch of the group was named Chuck, a lifelong resident of Kanab, Utah, a few miles down US-89 from where we were. He said we should have no problem, however his daughter Tammy disagreed. We discussed it a while and decided, with their help, to try. I will now quote verbatim from Garland's FaceBook post regarding what HE SAYS happened next:
So no wading through water this time. But a shit ton of sand!!! (Actually that's what the canyons are made of).
Today has been a crazy adventure. What started out as off-roading gone HORRIBLY wrong and sand EVERYWHERE, ended with the locals finally hauling us out and giving us a lift on their ATV's.
So here is the story: we decided to go look at slot canyons. We get off the main road and come to a very sandy one. I, of course, jump out of the car to test the stability of the sand. Gary, in his over optimistic and sometimes fool-hearty zeal for adventure decided we can do it. And after speaking with Grandpa Chuck who said we can do it if we have 4WD and against Tammy's advisement that we shouldn't, Gary chooses to go (against my better advisement as well). Good thing Chuck, Tammy, Sam, and Tasen decide to come with.
Needless to say, we got horribly stuck in the sand (no surprise there). I and Tammy and the boys try to push the car out pf the sand. This took several minutes. We finally get out and Grandpa Chuck says he'll lead the way. So we start off again only to get stuck a few feet later. Grandpa Chuck and Tammy's ATV breaks down over the ridge and they start walking back to the car.
So God says, "This is ridiculous, if I don't intervene they'll be here all night!"
I then heard music and an engine off in the distance and who pops up over the ridge but a white windowless and topless jeep with a group of 3 fairly attractive jocks from BYU and 2 of their girlfriends wearing flip flops, t-shirts, and gym shorts. Except for the driver who was a daisy duke wearing, barefoot pedaling, shift and clutch maneuvering, sand dune kick-ass chick with a very pleasant demeanor. (I was thoroughly impressed…I know who's on my team in a zombie apocalypse!)
I digress. So the jocks jump out of the jeep in assistance. I saddle up next to them at the hood of the car and push. I was feeling real butch now! Grandpa Chuck decides its better for him to drive than Gary since he's used to this sorta thing.
So we all push. And then get stuck. Back up. Push again. Floor it. Get stuck. Back up. Gain more speed… and on and on and on.
Probably because of the pity the family felt for us, these urbanized Seattleites who came all this way to see a slot canyon, they decided to drive us to the canyons themselves.
And the rest, as they say, is history!
Indeed he is right. This lovely family decided that it would be a shame for us to miss the canyon after all that and graciously decided to take us down in the ATVs. As it turned out it was 4 miles down through all this sand to get to the mouth of the canyon. The road, assuming you could call it that, was basically tire tracks through sand and we would have never found it without their help. Gar got to ride on the back of a two-seater ATV while I road with Chuck in a four-seater with a pickup-bed.
Now to write a strongly worded letter to the folks who created that web page...