The desert doesn’t guarantee seclusion on a fall trip anymore |

The desert doesn’t guarantee seclusion on a fall trip anymore

Happy campers chill out shortly before sunset near Moab last month. It's not impossible to find seclusion in the fall, but it's getting a lot tougher.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times |

My desert trips have unofficially come to an end for the season, at least for a couple of months.

The warm, dry weather was a mixed blessing this fall. The blessing was it allowed me to camp 11 out of 12 nights during a stretch of October, with one brief break to come home and resupply. The curse was everyone else was roaming the Colorado Plateau, as well.

It won’t do any good to complain that a feller used to be able to find some respite from the desert crowds in the fall, at least compared to spring. It’s now industrial tourism both seasons.

Oh well, this fall left a lot of fond memories of new experiences. A brother-in-law and I started our journey checking out the awesome mountain biking I’ve been hearing about for a few years down in Cortez and Dolores. The long trip to southwest Colorado was worth the drive for the jaw-dropping beauty of Dallas Divide and Lizard Head Pass. We hit it right after the first snowstorm of the fall, so we were treated to white-covered peaks, blazing yellow cottonwoods and bluebird skies.

A few days later we had a rendezvous with four other rapscallions deep in the heart of Cedar Mesa, west of Blanding. It was the first time the six of us had been together in about 15 years. We picked up like it was yesterday.

We explored a couple of canyons that were new to us and saw some mind-blowing Anasazi ruins. The only disappointment came at the BLM visitors’ center at Grand Gulch. Back in the day, you could ask about a particular ruin and the rangers and volunteers on duty would be coy and say, “Yep it’s out there.” Now they provide precise directions. I guess it’s a product of the social media age and guidebook frenzy.

I ended the trip with a third group of friends biking in the Moab area. It’s always a treat. We managed to find a little privacy for camping along one of our usual haunts, but the writing is on the wall — seclusion isn’t part of the gig anymore.