We planned a trip to Moab, UT over Memorial Day a long time ago… so long, that it was before Ryan and I knew that we would become dog owners! When Scout (a 2 year old, fun loving, city-slicker yellow lab from Los Angeles) came into our lives this February, we did not want to change our trip plans so instead we had to change the itinerary to make it more dog friendly!
With temperatures in the 90s, we decided that we would stick to some wet canyons to help keep the dogs cool. After doing some research, we decided that we would do Professor Creek/Mary Jane Canyon in Moab as well as Little Wild Horse Canyon near Goblin Valley.
We headed out early from work on Friday and made the ~6hr drive down to Moab, stopping for dinner along the way. We found an AWESOME spot on BLM land that offered us lots of solitude, shade, and stunning views of the nearby valley.
On Saturday morning, we headed out to Professor Creek/Mary Jane Canyon. The drive from town is super easy, with most of it on a paved road and the rest being along a well maintained dirt road. It dead ends at the trailhead, where there is parking for ~20 cars. This trail is very flat, and is an out-and-back for a total of 8.5 miles.
The actual route for this trail is not very obvious, but we started off in a SE direction and ultimately just got our feet wet and started to walk up the creek bed as opposed to trying to follow one of the nearby meandering trails. Besides, the trails were sandy which were a bit hot on the dogs’ feet.
As we continued up the creek bed, our surroundings began to change from wide open desert to interestingly shaped red rock. Definitely wear some sort of water shoes; there is no way that you can keep your feet dry! The creek never got deeper than mid-calf depth, however.
Around mile 3.5, the canyon finally started to close in on us. The canyon walls towered above us as it began to get more narrow. The river bed became more sandy as we quickened our pace, excited to reach the waterfall that we heard echoing through the canyon.
After about 2.5 hours of hiking, we reached the waterfall at the end of the trail! It was so beautiful, and the pool below it was deep enough for a swim if you felt so inclined. We hung out here for a few minutes, enjoying the cool spray from the waterfall before heading back to the car.
Our hike back only took us about an hour to do, mostly because we were not stopping for photos or to let the dogs play anymore. Besides, it was getting close to dinnertime! While the trailhead was very full, we did not feel crowded on this hike and it was a super enjoyable way to spend the day right outside of Moab.
On Sunday, we packed into the car and drove 1.5hrs to Little Wild Horse Canyon. We got here around 11AM and this trailhead was PACKED. Tons of dogs, small children, families, etc. Clearly this slot canyon was easily accessible for all parties. After a 5-10min walk up the dry riverbed, we entered the canyon! The first 1/4 of this hike was like Disneyland; waiting for lines of people to go by, squeezing around small children and dogs, etc. but the further we hiked back… the more solitude we found.
Soon we were all by ourselves, hiking through the ever-changing canyon. It varied between super wide, sunny areas to sections so narrow that you had to turn sideways to make it through! There was even one section of water in the canyon, which Ryan was able to climb up and over. I just took the easy route and got my feet wet 🙂
We hiked for about 2hrs before reaching the 4WD road leading you to Bell Canyon. This section of the canyon has some bigger dropoffs/climbs, so we decided to skip it on this trip due to our furry companions and head back the way we came. If I were to go back with more time in the day and no dogs, I would definitely complete the Little Wild Horse/Bell Canyon loop.
After two long days of hiking in the canyons, we were tired (although nothing could wipe the smiles off our faces) so we headed into Moab for a quick trip to Milt’s Stop & Eat for their delicious burgers, tots, & milkshakes. Feeling full of food and sun, we headed back to camp for our final night.
It was the perfect 3 days, with plenty of adventure and relaxation to go around. The dogs had a great time (although they will probably be sleeping for the next three days to recover), and we were able to stay sunburn free… what more can you ask for?!