Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, Part 1: Dinosaur Cliffs
The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve is a section of the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area below the Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness where Tom and I had hiked before. For my first hike in the Dinosaur Cliffs of the reserve, we started at the Grapevine Trail connecting to the Dino Cliffs Trail before deciding to explore the tops of the cliffs rather than follow the route down to see them from the base. It was a good decision: The view was magnificent. We had a fantastic time exploring the ragged sandstone edges of the upland and enjoying the fascinating configurations of erosion in the red sandstone, and there were multiple occasions where I was left speechless.
After a more than a few miles and a couple hours we turned north and hiked into another canyon, climbing rocks and steep petrified dunes before reaching a ridge top. As with many of our recent off-trail adventures, I enjoyed myself immensely and found it exciting to choose my own path and explore on a whim; the beautiful views and the incredible sandstone made it all the more special.