We organized a group trip to Fruita to bring together people from Cranbrook and those who used to live in Cranbrook. We also invited our kids. So there were eleven people in our group campsite at James M. Robb Colorado River State Park (Fruita Section). Wendy, Doug, Melissa and Andrew, Sarah; Gretchen and Bob; Melissa and Dave; Janice and Jamie.
Melissa, Andrew and Sarah from the coast came a day early, so we headed off to an easy hike in the Colorado National Monument to introduce them to the southwest landscape. They were like kids in a candy store; excited about every turn in the trail.
After exploring Devil’s Kitchen, we wandered up No Thoroughfare Canyon. Last year when we were here, we saw Collared Lizards so we hoped we could replicate the experience. We stopped for lunch just as we reached the water. (Just after the first photo below). Sarah wandered off to get a better photo of a flower and noticed a small collared lizard. We all came to look. It must have been the “Time Lizards Come Out to Sun Themselves,” because we saw another and another. The second photo below is just the best one of dozens.
Then we drove up Rimrock Drive through the Monument and stopped at most of the lookouts. Here’s a photo of Andrew at the “Cold Shivers Lookout”. Wendy actually had shivers standing beside the fence overlooking the view, while Andrew seemed quite comfortable perched on a toadstool a long ways outside the barrier.
The next day, all eleven group-members headed out to the bike trails at Road 18. The trails are perched on the slopes below the Book Cliffs. There was a single up-track leading to multiple flowing descents. The first photo is Melissa with Gretchen following. The next one is of Doug on “PBR.”
The next day was a hike to Rattlesnake Canyon, part of the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area. We had read that it was the second highest concentration of arches outside of Arches National Park. But the steep, rough approach was definitely not a National Parks standard road. After driving a little less than two hours, we were ready to start hiking. As we descended the trail, we could see across the river to the highway and to the bike trails that we were planning to ride the next day, which seemed weird because of our long approach. When we turned the corner into the canyon proper, it seemed that there were arches around every bend.
Because there were so many photographers in the group, the Hogg family thought it would be good to get a group picture. When we saw the unique cliff indentations, we thought it was a perfect spot for a photo shoot. Below is one of the images of “Hoggs in Holes” and a picture of the photographers.
We got to the end of the trail after two and a half hours of leisurely walking and viewed “First Arch.” Here is where the standard trail ended. The route up the sandstone and under the arch looked inviting to some of the party. Maybe for another time. We were back at the trucks after the climb up in about two hours. The younger members of the group took the side trip on the way back to look at “First Arch” from above.
The next day was a biking day for all the Hoggs and Andrew and Gretchen. We went to the Kokapelli Loop trails, just a few miles down the highway from our campsite. We all enjoyed the warm-up loop called “Rustler’s.” Here’s a photo of Doug on one of the smooth sections and a photo of Sarah, Melissa, and Andrew at a river overlook on the trail.
Everyone was feeling good, so we headed out for more. Wendy had seen the Horsethief Bench the year before and wanted to give it a go. The parts of the trail you could see from above looked nice, and they were. There were other sections that were more difficult, starting with the descent down to the bench. It was definitely a “hike-a-bike” section. You can see Andrew carrying Wendy’s bike and Sarah carrying Gretchen’s in the photo below. How Wendy and Gretchen got their bikes up when the kids went on ahead is another story, best told in person.
Here is Sarah showing us good mountain bike technique on a slickrock feature and also on the trail.
Here’s Wendy on one of the enjoyable sections through a wash.
On the final day, one group started at the bottom of the Monument trail, the other at the top. They met for lunch part way along, then each group drove the other vehicle home to camp. The “feature” photo of the blog (you need to go to the website to see it) is the view the “up” group saw as they made the 1000-foot ascent.
Fruita is a great town (pop. 12,600) that embraces the mountain biking and outdoor community. A lot of their downtown art has a biking theme. Here are Andrew, Melissa and Sarah on a huge old-fashioned bicycle. I’m sure we’ll be back.