We started our weekend overlanding trip by leaving soon after work to making a run for the dispersed camping above Badger Canyon in the Marble Canyon area in northern Arizona.
Access to the Badger Canyon is from a BLM land and the lower section of Badger Canyon lies within the Grand Canyon National Park boundary. It is a local favorite spot for rappelling and canyoneering. Once you get to the bottom of the canyon, you will have direct access to the Colorado River.
We arrived just before sunset and all of the canyon view primitive dispersed camp spots were already occupied, so we opted for the only camp area open with existing fire ring to setup camp for the night. There are only total of 4 camping spots, so if you plan to come here, make sure to arrive early or have backup sites planned close by.
The temperature dropped quickly as the sun set and I was ready to get dinner going. One of my favorite overloading meals to prepare is soy garlic steak with onion. It can be added to rice or wrapped in tortilla to make it a more filling meal, but for tonight, I kept it simple. I have been using the TemboTusk Adventure Skottle Grill on all of our overlanding trips since we got it at the Overland Expo West last year. It is such a compact and wonderful camp kitchen item that I really enjoy cooking on. It is just big enough for the two of us.
We recently purchased the Annex S for our iKamper Skucamp 2.0, so we got to try it out during this trip. The setup is quite easy and we really enjoyed the privacy it provides and the extra room for us to setup the Little Buddy Heater on the ground to help heat the annex room and the roof top tent all at once.
We tucked ourselves in and quickly fell asleep after a long day of work and driving. We have been using the Super Light Wiggy’s sleeping bag, it is a 0° F (approximately -20 degrees C) rated mummy style bag. If we get the overbag for it, the rating becomes -40º F. It really is much warmer than our previous sleeping bags, but in these 30 degree nights, it is still hard to get out in the cold for late night bathroom breaks. During one of the midnight bathroom breaks, we got to see all the stars coming out even with the full moon shining high in the sky.
Around 1:00 AM, the wind picked up and the canvas on the tent was flapping a bit, but not too bad. I was surprised how well the Annex S held up to the strong winds.
The next morning, we decided to sleep in and wait till the sun warmed up the tent before checking out the view of Badger Canyon from afar. However, having the brilliant red colored Vermilion Cliffs to our west and Echo Cliffs to our east made for a breathtaking 360 degree view that is still something to behold.
We broke down the camp and get ready for our drive for St George, Utah.
On the way, we made a quick stop at Bee’s Marketplace, a really nice grocery store in Colorado City, Arizona. I picked up some items for making our dinner for the night.
We made it to St George in good time and grabbed lunch from a couple of local food trucks. I was suffering quite badly from seasonal allergies, so I picked up a box of Benadryl from Stapley Pharmacy, a really nice local pharmacy that has been around since the 1970s. After filling up on gas, we continued our way to Dixie National Forest to find our camp spot for tonight.
The area we were going is the Pine Valley Ranger District of the Dixie National Forest. You can easily access it from from Leeds, Utah. The forest roads are well maintained, and there are designated camping spots along the entrance area of the Dixie National Forest. Given that it was a holiday weekend (Presidents’ Day), most of the camp spots were occupied. But we were not worried, because the dispersed camping spot we were going to require high clearance 4×4 and should be extremely isolated.
The Off-Highway Vehicle system within the Dixie National Forest is extensive and we are excited to get a tiny sample of that by getting to our camp for the night. Most of the off-shoot OHV trails have clear dispersed camping spots with existing fire rings and they are beautiful and relatively private as well.
We did not really air down our tires when entering the FR 032. But we did stop and used our Speedflate 4X System to air down our tires when we got to the trailhead for the trail to our camp.
The trail we picked is a short one and virtually no information about it, so we assume it is not a very popular trail. It is one of the many offshoots off of FR 031. Although we did come across a side-by-side on our way to camp. We were happy to find ourselves to be the only ones at camp and we stacked some rocks to level the Jeep for setting up camp.
For dinner, I made savory chicken and veggies French crepes. I picked up a package of pre-marinated chicken breasts, asparagus, mushroom and pre-made French crepes from Bee’s Marketplace. Dinner was quite delicious and we snuggled up to get some sleep after filling our tummies.
I decided to give astrophotography a try tonight. It was a bit cold to stay out and do long exposures, but I was having fun figuring out settings and learning to frame my shots in total darkness. I was happy with how a handful of my attempts turned out.
We woke up early, but took our time to make coffee and breakfast to get the day started. The goal was to make our way to Yant Flat trailhead before it gets too crowded.
Yant Flat trail is located on the southern slopes of the Pine Valley Mountains in the Dixie National Forest. The sandstone layers at the edge of the Colorado Plateau have been pushed up by the underlying volcanic rocks. Through erosion over the years, the amazing domes, cliffs and canyons are formed. The layered rocks give a marbled effect with some of the most gorgeous colored sandstone formations similar to the famous Wave in Coyote Buttes.
The hike to Yant Flat from the parking lot is about 1.5 miles. Yant Flat is nicknamed “Candy Cliffs” because of the amazing orange and white swirl patterns found along the rock formations.
The final 1/3 section of the trail is quite sandy and makes for a tiring hike just before you get to the Yant Flat. But the view is totally worth it. We explored for a bit and took lots of photos. However, we did not spend as much time as we would have wanted because we needed to start our journey back home.
All and all, it was a short, but amazing trip. We got a small taste of how amazing southwest Utah is and can’t wait to come back for more!