First backpacking trip of the season! This weekend, we busted out to Grand Gulch and did an overnight trip in Fish and Owl Canyons. It was a great spring hike -- the weather cooperated and all the plants were greening up.
Grand Gulch is a BLM Primitive Area that protects some amazing natural and cultural resources. A classic Grand Gulch hike is full of Anasazi ruins, and you can definitely imagine people living here 700-1500 year ago -- there's lots of water and plants. Fish/Owl doesn't have as many ruins as some other Grand Gulch hikes, but we did spot a couple granaries tucked away into alcoves. The hike ends with a really beautiful kiva as you climb out of Owl Canyon.
A trip down in Grand Gulch takes a little planning. The BLM uses a permit system to limit the number of people who can spend the night in the canyons. (They do save some walk-up permits, and you can day hike without any paperwork.) The day of your hike, you stop by the Kane Gulch ranger station, watch a Leave-No-Trace movie, and grab your permit.
Fish/Owl is a loop hike, and I definitely recommend heading down into Fish Canyon first. The decent is steep and there's one spot where a rope might come in handy for lowering a heavy pack. I liked getting that over with first! I also liked saving the best for last -- Owl Canyon is a little more scenic/interesting with an arch and a really cool ruin. The whole hike is 16 miles round-trip, although it would have been great to spend another night down there and explore upper Fish Canyon.