Significant events are competing for the higher recognition on this late December day. On the annual occasion of the least amount of daylight in the northern hemisphere, we are left to wonder which has the more significance – it being the Winter Solstice (at 2230 Mountain Time), or it being National Hamburger Day.
Trail into Red Cliffs Desert Reserve
But I digress.
If you happen to find yourself in southwestern Utah during the next winter solstice, you could do much worse than to take yourself to the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. I write a lot about the Reserve because I go there a lot, especially in the cooler months. Tilted tiers of multi–hued red Kayenta and white Navajo sandstone swathe the base of Pine Valley Mountain. Boulder-strewn canyons and sandy washes snaking their way downward from the highlands into the lower elevations leave many options if you have a couple hours or all day.
|Handle in sandstone|
|Standing in sandstone|
There are a lot of trails to choose from in the Reserve, and the wonderful thing is that on a winter week day you can hike here and see maybe one lone mountain biker besides yourself. You could not pay me enough to be out hiking inside the overheated radiator of a southern Utah summer afternoon, but winter is sublime as a 25°F crystal clear morning shivers its way to a luminous sunlight hovering low on the horizon.
|Lowlands of Red Cliffs Desert Reserve|
Zzzzzip! Off comes the fleece after crawling around in the warm sunshine of the boulder–littered canyon. Zzzzzip! The fleece comes back on in the chilly shade of the sandy washes. Zzzzzip! Off again. Zzzzzip! On again. Zzzzzip! Off again. Zzzzzip! On again. Not to worry, though. All this zipping just gives another reason to stop and admire the view. I’ve been out here so many times but I never tire of it, the reason being the season this time, of frigid shadows and warming sunshine.