Friday evening after work, David and I headed for Blanding Utah and spent the night at a motel.

The next morning, we headed north towards Mt. Linnaeus and then northwest along the face of the mountain. We parked along the gravel road above Bayles Canyon and proceeded to bushwhack our way down the steep hill to the west. In the distance to the west, we could see smoke from a fire burning in the cedars. Off and on all day long, we were breathing that smoke.

Deep Canyon Fire

Once on the bottom of the steep ravine, we were able to make our way down to the main rim of Bayles Ranch Canyon.

Bayles Ranch Canyon

Here we found narrow and rocky chute down off the rim and onto the floor of the canyon. It was then an easy walk around the point to Bayles Canyon Arch.

Firecracker Penstemon

While descending this last steep chute, a helicopter flew low into the canyon, proceeded to the top of the canyon, hovered for a moment and then rose to exit the canyon just over our heads. Tourists, I suppose.

(I gotta get me one of those!)

Bayles Canyon Arch is a wonderful large class “B” natural arch. The setting is high enough that it is surrounded by Ponderosa pine and Gimble oak instead of the sagebrush we are used to.

Bayles Ranch Arch

At the arch, we found a trail heading down the canyon which is probably the better way to access the arch. We couldn’t see any roads in the distance but there probably is at least one.

After spending some time at the arch, it was time to head back again. We ended up climbing up a closer chute and walked as far as possible on the upper level of the canyon before we had to tackle the brush going up the steep hill to the road. We choose a different hill to climb hoping that the going would be easier.

It wasn’t.

In fact, it was almost impossible to climb up the steep hillside that was so covered with brush. At one point, I actually climbed straight up a short cliff just so I could make some progress. It was ugly but we finally made it to the top, badly scratched and exhausted.

Luckily, that was the last thing we did that day. After enjoying a peaceful sunset, we drove back to Blanding for a motel room and to rest up for the next day’s hike.

Blanding Sunset

The next morning we enjoyed a big breakfast at the Old Tymers Restaurant, which is not necessarily a good way to start a day of hiking.

We took a quick drive down Blanding’s Westwater Creek road so we could take new pictures of Westwater Natural Bridge (Class “C” bridge) and some Inidan cliff ruins.

WestwaterNatualBridge Westwater Ruins

We then drove west to Natural Bridges National Monument and then north up the mountain and over Bear Ears to South Elk Ridge. We then turned northwest where the gravel road took us above Cherry Canyon to Dry Mesa looking down into Woodenshoe Canyon.

Cherry Canyon Woodenshoe Canyon

Here we explored the canyon rim until we found a natural arch we called Kinked Arch.

Kinked Arch

There should have been two natural arches in this area but we couldn’t find any others.

Along the way, we saw an unusual number of horned lizards (or “Horny Toads). It seems like we see some every time we are near the Dark Canyon Wilderness area high mesas.

Horny Toad

On the way back to Bear Ears, it was the right time of the evening to see a lot of wildlife including mule deer and wild turkeys, none of which seemed to be concerned with our stopping to watch them. However, we had a long drive home that night so we could be back at our jobs the next morning.