Done in a Day: Moab
Sample of one of the Ten Premier Hikes
Trip 3 — fisher towers
|location||Colorado River Valley, northeast of Moab|
|round trip||4.6 mi (7.4 km)|
|elevation gain||960 ft (293 m) w/ups & downs|
|hiking time||2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours|
|maps||Trails Illustrated Moab North|
The phantasmagoria of southern Utah inspire imaginative comparisons. "That one looks like." is the usual response. Which is always interesting. But if these formations were art-as indeed they are, every piece created by the master sculptor Erosion--your admiration wouldn't be limited to free associating. You would ask yourself, "What does it mean? What is it saying?"
The Fisher Towers look like the soaring, ornate, baroque architecture of Belgium, at Brussels' Le Grand Place, or Ghent's Michelmas. Or the ancient, fantastic, erotic shrines at Khajuraho, India, minus the shocking eroticism. But what do the lofty, incomprehensibly intricate Fisher Towers say? Perhaps their message is, "Don't endure a mundane existence. Unleash your wild mind. Think original thoughts. Act on them exuberantly. Be an iconoclast and celebrate it."
The trailhead is at the very base of these rippling, filigreed, hardened-mud monoliths. It's surprising how many people shuffle only a few steps from their vehicle, stare open-mouthed, then leave. But the trail winds intimately among the Fisher Towers, affording the hiker a consummately vivid, memorable encounter.
Despite frequent ups and downs, this short, out-and-back journey is easily galloped in a couple hours. Yet it packs as much scenic wallop as any hike anywhere. Sweeping vistas across the Colorado River Valley and into the La Sal Mountains complement the reach-out-and-touch-'em views of the towers. Upon your arrival in the Moab area, even if it's late afternoon, come here to stretch your legs, jettison humdrum concerns, and disengage your duty-burdened brain.
Tallest of the towers, the 900-ft (274-m) Titan, was first summited in 1962 by three Coloradoans. Climbing sandstone was dicey as space travel then but is less so now thanks to improved hardware. Climbers achieve an even greater affinity with the Fisher Towers than do hikers. It's the difference between peering into a kaleidoscope and being in one.
From Hwy 191, at the northwest edge of Moab, turn east onto Hwy 128. Follow it 21 mi (33.8 km), paralleling the Colorado River. Just past milepost 21, turn right (east-southeast) onto unpaved Fisher Road, signed Fisher Towers. Proceed 2.2 mi (3.5 km) to the trailhead parking area near the base of the towers. Elevation: 4720 ft (1440 m). There's a small BLM campground here.
The trail departs the south-southwest corner of the parking area, between the metal register and the wood sign. Immediately descend a short staircase, curve left, then begin a gradual ascent generally south. Initially the trail is lined with rocks. In about six minutes, follow a sign directing you left, through a cleft, down into a wash.
In about 30 minutes, reach a level shoulder affording a sweeping view of intricate tower walls and odd sandstone formations. From here, the trail curves left (northeast) then gently ascends around another shallow gully. At 1 mi (1.6 km) reach the base of the 900-ft (274-m) Titan, tallest of the towers.
About 45 minutes from the trailhead, a 4-rung metal ladder helps you drop into a gully. Ascend the other side via short, accommodating ledges. Ten minutes farther, leave the tower alleyways and ascend to a level saddle on a peninsula, at 2.2 mi (3.5 km), 5430 ft (1655 m). It's possible to continue in two directions: briefly right, or much farther left.
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