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Paradise Rim and Turtle Wall Loop
Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah
April 25, 2023

Crossing desert flats, traversing a low ridge and following the base of tall red cliffs, Paradise Rim Trail and Turtle Wall Trail cover a lot of ground and a lot of beautiful scenery. We thought reaching the ridgetop would be the highlight of the trip, but we were more excited to spot a desert tortoise in the red cliffs. Tortoises had recently emerged from hibernation, and we were lucky to see one.

The hike begins at the Chuckwalla Trailhead ten minutes north of St. George. Dinah and I followed the trail, passing low red cliffs before coming to the beginning of the loop. We turned left onto Halfway Marsh Trail, following it briefly to Paradise Rim Trail. After crossing a desert expanse that held a smattering of blooming wildflowers, we started up the unnamed ridge. From the ridgetop, the view south was marred with suburbs, but the red cliffs stretching in a long line southeast grabbed our attention. After taking photos, we continued down the ridge and turned onto Turtle Wall Trail.

The trail follows the base of red sandstone blocks with rounded edges. Just after we passed a window in the rock, we spotted a large desert tortoise walking on the trail. Although we hovered nearby, it seemed undisturbed. It kept on course, whatever that was, pausing sometimes to snack on a plant. Dinah and I watched it leave the trail before we continued our hike. We finished the loop gratified we had seen the best of it.

KML and GPX Tracks

From Chuckwalla Trailhead, the little ridge we climbed appears dark red in the centre

Dinah stops to watch climbers

Hiking down Chuckwalla Trail

The trail passes cliffs and outcrops

We turned left onto Halfway Marsh Trail but returned on Turtle Wall Trail on the right

We turned right onto Paradise Rim Trail

The ridge was still far away

Woolly daisy

Mariposa lilies

We began to see details of the ridge

Looking back

We saw a few rock wrens

Starting up the ridge

The gray mountain west is Jarvis Peak

Red Bluff Hill lies south

Rocks line the ridgetop

Standing on the summit

Heading down the ridge. The intersection for Turtle Wall Trail appears ahead.

Turtle Wall Trail follows the base of the cliffs seen on the right

I ventured out onto a jutting cliff while Dinah continued along the trail

The trail continues along the base of the cliffs

Notch-leaved phacelia

Mojave prickly pear

Looking back at the ridge

There's a window next to the trail

Dinah watches the desert tortoise


Washington Topo (3.8 mi, 3363 ft, 404 ft)

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