September 4 – 14, 2018
When I last left you we had just visited Dinosaur National Monument (very cool place!) and were at Green River State Park in Utah. From there we got an early start in hopes of snagging a good campsite in Moab. Arriving at 8:45 we lucked into a huge site at the no-frills Goose Island BLM campground. It was worth it to get there early as we were only a few miles from the entrance to Arches and from the center of town. Plus we were right on the river which provided much needed cool evening breezes.
Our time here was spent visiting Arches NP and Canyonlands NP, two parks we’ve looked forward to for a long time. Surprisingly they didn’t resonate with us as much as we’d thought they would. For one, they were busy. Second, it was hot (in the 90s), dry, dusty and windy so everything, including us, was coated in a layer of grit. With no hook-ups for running the A/C we couldn’t close the windows or we would bake, although a few times we used our battery (thank you solar power!) to crank it up and cool things down a bit before bed. Lastly we had a few mishaps that overshadowed our time here.
Arches National Park
We spent one day hiking the trail to Landscape Arch. If you go arrive early, we snagged one of the last parking spots at 9:30am.
Many folks stopped here at the view of Landscape Arch, but we continued on the rugged trail toward Double O, which involved some steep and narrow hiking over the rocks.
My favorite was Partition Arch, where you can walk inside the arch. It made a nice cool spot to eat lunch with a view.
Our destination, Double O, was worth the sweaty, hot hiking. By climbing through the lower arch you got an incredible view of the surrounding landscape. Unfortunately our time there was marred by some rude French tourists climbing out on top of the arch and yelling to their friends on the ground. Yep, they ignored the signs everywhere forbidding climbing on the arches.
Another evening we hiked up to Delicate Arch, hitting the trail about an hour before sunset. It was busy with people, but beautiful to watch the light changing on the arch.
Our last foray into the park was to drive the scenic park road stopping at all the overviews we hadn’t seen yet. We walked around Balanced Rock…
to the Windows Area (maybe my favorite area—you could see 10-15 arches just by walking all the little trails around there)…
and stopped at Wall Street.
I think we managed to see all the best parts of this park.
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands is divided into three areas by the Colorado and Green Rivers. Access to these distinct areas involves a lot of driving. We headed first to the less visited Needles section. Since it is 75 miles from Moab we figured this would be a good place to head on a busy Saturday. As we were driving down the desolate 25 mile side road that leads into the park, Chuck noticed a warning on our tire pressure monitoring system. Our right rear tire was steadily losing pressure. We found an area with a bit of a sandy shoulder, the best we could do as there were no paved shoulders or pull-outs, and set about changing the tire.
This meant emptying out the backseat (aka our storage area) to get to the jack and me standing around reading the manual while Chuck followed the directions. We couldn’t find anything poking into the tire so I guess it’s really time for new tires. We knew they were close to the end of their lifespan (they’re at over 40,000 miles) and were planning to replace them this winter. I guess perhaps we’d better do that sooner. I’ve seen so many shredded tires and people on the side of the road with a blow-out or flat that I’m beginning to think Utah is not a good place for tires. Maybe it’s the heat.
Spare tire installed we headed back on our way and soon saw a sign for Newspaper Rock. We pulled into the small parking area with no idea what it was, but were so glad we stopped. These petroglyphs might be our favorite thing we saw over in this section.
After that we headed to the Needles Visitor Center. I loved the architecture and shade structure.
The views of the canyon were definitely different that what we saw up near Moab.
It was too hot for much hiking but we explored the short Cave Springs Trail.
We drove another day into the Island in the Sky part of Canyonlands which is about 32 miles from Moab. The drive in wound through some amazing rock layers. With it being another hot day we mostly drove to all the viewpoints, jumping in and out of our air-conditioned truck.
We took the short walk to popular Mesa Arch.
A closer look…
And from the other side the views go on and on.
We also hiked to Upheaval Dome, an interesting geologic feature.
Some scientists think it was formed by a collapsed salt dome while others believe it is the impact crater of a meteorite. Even today they aren’t sure.
While I enjoyed the beauty of these parks, they weren’t my favorites. Although I wonder if these were our first Utah parks we’d have been more impressed. Capitol Reef and Bryce are pretty hard to beat.
Moab was a nice little town. We had some good finds at Gearheads, the large, local outdoor shop. There was a good supermarket. We enjoyed cyrocream at Moab Coffee. If you haven’t seen it before they dump liquid nitrogen into a Kitchenaid mixer as it stirs a cream mixture. The cream quickly freezes against the sides of the bowl and then they scrape it out. My lemon-lime was creamy and delicious. Chuck’s chocolate was a bit gritty, but definitely worth the stop.
A beautiful drive along the Colorado river took us to Castle Creek winery. We tasted some delicious wines and wandered in the lodge’s movie museum. Quite a few movies have been filmed there.
But little things were getting to me. I was overcharged for a used book. I got a bad haircut. I had been hot and sweaty and gritty for 10 days. We were both ready to be done with Moab. So it was with anticipation of moving on that we went into town to fill up the truck with diesel and decided to stop at McDonald’s (something we never do–is there a lesson here?) for an ice cream and blazing fast wi-fi. As we left we were making a left turn at a light and stopped for a kid in the crosswalk. Two seconds later we were rear-ended by a lady who admitted she wasn’t paying attention. Funny (not funny) thing is she worked for a safety company. I have to say the Moab police and sheriff who stopped were awesome.
Since she hit our bumper we were concerned about towing the trailer, but luckily she hit off to one side. Chuck climbed under the truck several times and the hitch looked like it was unaffected, so the next morning we headed out of town. Not the way we wanted to end our time in Moab.