One of the things I love most about going on adventures with Shannon, is that he consistently leads us to cool places that are off the beaten path. False Kiva is not on any of the maps nor is it listed in any of the information that Canyonlands National Park gives out to the public. If you know about it, and you’re thinking about visiting, there’s information out there. But this was another site that had to be loaded into the GPS.
We drove there from Las Vegas on New Year’s Day (1/1/21), and knew that it was likely that we’d be getting there at the end of the day. This meant that we’d possibly have a great place to watch the sunset and that we may be hiking out in the dark with headlamps.
Given that it was January, there was a lot of snow on the ground. We had prepared for snow thankfully, and had prepared for extreme cold. The snow was an incredibly beautiful backdrop. Whenever I think of Utah, I think of the desert. Red dirt and sandstone. So it was a neat experience to get to see it with a layer of white.
As you may imagine, the snow was covering the trail. There had definitely been some light foot traffic in and around where the trail should be, but it was by no means clear on the whole route. As we set out on the trail, for what we’d understood to be a 2 mile hike in, we were using the GPS from the get go. As soon as we got far enough in to the canyon we started to begin to see some incredible scenery. We *may have* slipped and slid over some spots along the way, which is why it’s not necessarily recommended to do this hike in the snow.
Once we neared the edge of the canyon, we knew that False Kiva was going to be hidden. As it’s been taken out of public access, all signs and markers are gone. Thankfully there are a few cairns.
While the trail was somewhat visible as it dropped down into the canyon, the large, panoramic face of the rock that surrounded us did not give any clues or hints as to where False Kiva may be located. Shannon was literally holding the GPS tracker in his hand and saying “according to this it should be right here”. We looked around and couldn’t see anything that stood out. I may not have mentioned before that Shannon has supersonic eagle vision. He does. We will be driving down the highway at 70mph and a bird will fly past the car and he will be able to identify it. “Did you see that red winged blackbird?” I will barely have registered that it was a bird. So it’s not surprising that he looked up and spotted it right above us. I fully admit that I never saw it from below. I just followed him right to it and saw it when we arrived.
What *they* say about this place, is that it was probably a (very, very early) Native American site for some kind of religious ritual. I can tell you that it was an exquisite spot to watch the sunset, and that it’s not difficult at all to imagine that this may have been something sacred.
We stayed as long as we possibly could, given that the sun was setting and we had a tricky hike back out in the dark. The hike can be done in and out without any climbing equipment, however, there were some steep inclines, and some scrambling up and down rocks. We took it very slowly, and made it mostly up and out of the canyon before full dark. Just as we got to the canyon rim and back onto the trail, we were able to turn off the headlamps and see a beautiful and clear star filled sky. It was the kind of dark that makes it hard to see your hand in front of your face. No light pollution at all whatsoever.
It was, without question, the best way to start a new year!