It is hard to believe that we have been on the road for three weeks. This adventure only gets better with time. This blog post covers our time at Arches and Canyonlands National Park. The next post will be on Capitol Reef, Bryce, Natural Bridges and Zion. On the drive from Provo to Arches the landscape gave way to more and more red rock. Our reserved RV site was right in Moab. I must say it looked a lot better online than in person. The park was tight with small spaces and very crowded. Moab is a fun and a very bustling place. There are lots of off road trails for the ATV and four wheel drive enthusiast. Our RV park was filled with big rigs and awesome backcountry machines. There were also lots of bicyclist and hikers in tents.
ARCHES NATIONAL PARK AT MOAB
We both loved the Arches National Park Experience. If you like red rock, interesting formations and natural arches, this is the place. The weather was excellent and we soon learned the drill. It is HOT during the day and cool at night. So the objective is to get up and get going very early. The thread of our experience was around every turn there is something new to look at. There were several great hikes and the drive through the park is phenomenal. Our time there was just right for us a day and a half.
The Park Avenue Trail was the first hike. It was fairly easy with lots of ups and downs with great views. A very nice initiation to the park and what it has to offer.
The main hike was the Devils Garden Trail. It is seven miles long with lots of scrambling over rocks. We got a work out that day along with introduction to life on the trail in red rock territory. The hike was a bit more technical than anticipated for us flatlanders Midwesterners. There are nine arches on the route plus significant elevation changes. The trail was busy. Please do not ask me to remember the names of all the arches.
After the hike we drove almost all of the park roads. There are lots of short hikes available along the way. We did as many as time would allow. As you can see lots more arches and many outstanding views. By the end of the day we were ready for a shower and to put our feet up.
DEAD HORSE POINT STATE PARK
The Dead Horse Point State Park was our next stop after Moab. This was to be our base camp for our first Canyonlands adventure. Our reserved site was for four nights. The park is outstanding. Check it out if you ever get the chance. It is called the Grand Canyon of Utah. Legend has it the locals would round up wild horses and use the natural points to corral them. Will spare you the details on how the park got its name.
The Colorado River is at the base of the canyon. It is 2,000 feet down to the river instead of 5,000 like the Grand Canyon. The sunrise and sunset views are breathtaking. There are great mountain bike trails. I did a couple which were way beyond my comfort zone for risk taking and skill set but I did them anyway. This park calls us back.
CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK – ISLAND IN THE SKY DISTRICT
Canyonlands National Park – Island in the Sky district was next on the list. Canyonlands is large with three districts: Island in the Sky, Needles and The Maze. The Maze section was not on our list as it is not as developed and much more rugged plus it is hard to get to without lots of driving. Island in the Sky is only 30 miles from Arches but entirely different. It has its own look and feel. It is more rugged and less developed and not as busy. It has great hiking trails along with excellent scenic drives. Again we had a day and a half which was just the right amount of time for us.
The Neck Spring Trail was our one big hike. It was an eight mile loop again with lots of elevation change but little rock scrambling… It gets its name from being at the neck of the canyon and there is a spring or two along the way. As you will see the photos display a different image than Arches.
We took a day to drive the scenic drives. As you can see from the photos…there is lots to see and do here.
COLORADO RIVER DRIVE
The last day we were at Dead Horse we headed out for a drive along the Colorado River on Utah Highway 128 out of Moab. The drive was recommended and was a nice change from our aggressive hiking experiences. We spent most of the day sight-seeing along the river with a nice picnic stop on river bank at a BLM site.
CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK – NEEDLES DISTRICT
The South Utah experience just gets better and better. Our RV site reservation was at a private campground in Monticello for two nights. There were no national or state Parks close by. Again same Utah experience, the park looked much better online than in person. The Needles district was a surprise as it was so much different than Island in the Sky. It was less developed hence less traffic and there was a surprise around every turn.
Here we took on our ultimate hike to date an eleven miler. The hike was the Chesler Park Loop which connected with the Joint Trail. Not only was it longer than we would normally do but it also was much more challenging. The trail was rocky with some drastic elevation changes. That being said it was one of the better trail experiences. We both came away with the same evaluation, glad that we had done it. The highlight of the hike was working our way through a slotted canyon where most of the time you could touch each side of the canyon. As you can see from all the photos the trail scenery changed a lot along the way.
Next we move on to the Capitol Reef National Park. The next Blog Post will be the final phase of our south Utah adventure.
Life on the road is good…
Larry and Jan