Cowboy Jacuzzis

Moab is dry.

It is also dusty.

Like whack-the-trail-dust-off-yer-chaps-with-yer-hat, old-timey, Wild West kind of dusty.

Everything here is covered and coated and crusted and dusted with fine, red dirt.

It’s carried into town on the wind, on countless RVs passing through, and on every tourist returning from their day’s adventures hiking, mountain biking, and off-roading in beefy UTVs in the surrounding bluffs.

The town sits at the intersection of the Green River and the Colorado River. Despite proximity to these mighty waterways, everywhere nearby is chokingly dry. So when I first read about a hike promising the cool refreshment of “Cowboy Jacuzzis,” I assumed it was an ironic label. I wasn’t ready to believe we’d actually encounter water – especially during a drought and so late in this rainless season.

Yet, recent reviews on my reliable hiking app raved about how cool the experience was, so we decided to go for it.

Out we trudged irresponsibly in the heat of the day, but responsibly schlepping our three liters each of water into the arid Moab surrounds.

The six mile hike began with the sere scenery we’ve become accustomed to here. Dry, brittle sagebrush, stunted yuccas, anemic scrub oaks, and meager cacti dotted the burning red rock and sand that stretched on and on and on to the mountainous horizon.

Few birds or other creatures were heard or seen except for the halfhearted churr of an intrepid chickadee and the usual collection of scrawny, finger-length, russet lizards zipping across our path every few hundred feet as our footsteps startled them from their afternoon sunbaths.

There was no shade.

Halfway across this wasteland, we seriously doubted our chances of finding water at our destination. Instead, we figured we’d find a dry wash – an evaporated remnant of a once-flowing stream.

Then our path took a sharp left and dropped down into a small canyon. There among the greenery, we spied some cottonwoods – a reliable sign of proximal water in the mountain west.

Getting a few yards closer, we glimpsed a precious blue ribbon of water winding between the trees!

As we walked farther down and close to the creek, we found the namesake “jacuzzis.”

The creek had carved roiling swirls into the sandstone floor, making slippery sluices just the perfect size for sliding down … but not so easy to climb up, as Glenn discovered.

There were also deep, cold pools filled with clear water and tiny fish that gently nibbled at our legs and toes in a weird, casual way.

We found wide, flat areas where the water flowed shallowly and slowly, warming it from the chill of the faster, deeper sections. In one of these spots, I was sunning myself dry when one of those ubiquitous lizards startled me by deciding to try to perch on the new soft, warm rock he’d found and tickled his way up the back of my thigh!

We spent the afternoon exploring different spots along the creek. Each was unique and all were fresh, beautiful escapes from the dusty, dry land surrounding this lovely oasis. What a special experience!!

Here are some more pictures from our adventure that day.

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