Monday, April 30, 2018

Richardson Amphitheater Loop Hike

Gopher Flats
April 24, 2018
Moab, UT

The Amphitheater Loop is about 22 miles from the intersection of Hwy 191 and SR 128.   

The trailhead is located across the street from Hittle Bottom Recreation Site.  

 Hittle Bottom RA includes a campground, facilities, and access to the Colorado River.  Back in the early 1900s, it was the home of the Tom Kitsen family.  
Tom carried the mail with his team of horses from the Cisco Post Office to the Castleton PO.  He used this place as a halfway stop to change his teams.  All that remains today is the rock walled dug-out. 

Tom's mother was buried here.
 A few years later, Frank Hittle and his family settled onto the property.  Their plans to farm and make a home here only lasted a few years as the barren desert won over their efforts to provide for themselves.  When reading about the historic site, I read that Frank's daughter visited the old homestead in 1988 with her children and grandchildren.
After parking and soaking in a little history, we were set to explore the 3 mile loop through the valley known as " The Richardson Amphitheater".  

The loop begins shortly after crossing the street.  Going counter-clockwise allows for climbing up the one short steep section which is easier (at least for us) than sliding down it.

Right from the get-go, the  Castle Valley and Fisher Towers rock formations capture your attention.  
Before you realize it, the trail leads right up to some really cool and very old rock formations.  These Moenkopi formations are hundreds of millions of years old.  And we are about to have an up close and personal look.   
From here, the trail slowly descends into a wash.  Sometimes it was hard to find our way in the wash.  We kept an eye out for cairns (piles of rocks) as the Moenkopi and Cutler sandstone walls grew taller and taller.

 I was easily entertained by the wildflowers.
Whipple's Fishhook Cacti are just beginning to bloom. 

Tufted Evening Primrose

Lots and lots of Four O'Clocks full of buds...we were a few days to early. 
The Cliff Rose smelled so nice.

 I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
The wash dead ends at the short steep climb mentioned at the beginning of the post.   It's a bit of a rock scramble and challenge to find the best way for short legs...mine that is. 
The rock scramble changes to a steep climb where footing is key to avoid the marbles...those small rocks that can a slide under your feet and send you back to start all over. 
 Then a slight turn right... 

and there we were...the sweeping views part of the trail.  Its absolutely gorgeous as you meander the curved path that lead us from one side of the mesa to the other. 
The trail meanders the left side of the mesa...

...and winds around to the right side.
And then there is the beautiful view behind me...

 In addition to all the cool rocks, sweeping views and wildflowers we did not see a single person on the trail.  We both agreed on the ride home it was a mighty fine way to spend a few hours.  

So until next time, take care and...



  1. Another great blog, Gay! Your photos are beautiful!

    1. Thank you Dee! There were so many beautiful things to take pictures of...

  2. Now that's a wonderful hike! Love all the flowers...and of course the fantastic rock formations!

    1. We agree Lisa. I just love the desert in the spring with all its pretty colors!

  3. Your photographs are awesome. I especially love the ones of the mesa in the distance. We have really come to appreciate the beautiful desert colors around here - and have been surprised to see so much green mixed in so early in spring. Your photos definitely show all of that. I need to stop adding stuff to our list, but I am gonna add this to my list. It's too pretty not to (especially since, apparently, no one else knows about it). :)

    1. Thanks Laura! Joe and I fell in love with the desert in 2013. It’s our favorite place to be. The desert in spring is amazingly wonderful...

  4. What a lovely hike among red sculptures, cliffs and far views :)

  5. Those formations and wildflowers are stunning Gay! Looks like the weather is (or was for this hike) beautiful.

    1. We agree Jodee! Yes...last week the weather was wonderful. This week some rain & thunder storms are passing through. Can’t complain though...the desert is really thirsty!

  6. I can't believe we haven't gotten to this hike yet. I've had it on the list and now we must get to it. Love all the wildflowers you found on the trail. The Cliff Rose certainly does add wonderful scent to any trail. I can smell them long before we see them. Longbow Arch trail is full of Cliff Rose. Sure do love those red rocks!! Good to see you two on the hiking trail again:)

    1. This is the perfect time of year to enjoy this trail...the flowers are amazing Pam! Hiking the desert in spring is my favorite...hope to get in more trails before it gets too hot!