When you enter Utah from the East it is rather flat as you saw in my last post. Turn just a little South by Southwest and quickly you will drop into the landscape most associated with the Colorado River. In Colorado, the Colorado is a swift but shallow river. Once it hits Utah it begins to grind away at the rock creating a magnificent canyon.
This happens to be one of my favorite photo from the trip. It was also my favorite road we drove on. Every turn of the river had us saying 'WOW!!!!' This road is Utah 128 and it was a very wise alternative to the highway. The entire road is downhill to Moab.
My first choice in campgrounds is always state parks. There are many reasons for this. The campsites tend to be much larger than commercial places. The sites also tend to offer a great deal more privacy. Rarely do they offer sewage hook up which turns off the full service crowd. Many offer water and electric which I find a great luxury. We went with Dead Horse State Park and it was an excellent choice. You need to fill your tank before you arrive. They have electric at each site along with a ramada covering a picnic table. There are flush toilets but no showers. The campground is a healthy, 35 minute drive from Moab but the remoteness had its advantages.
Like this view.
And this view.
And this view. Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon? This is grander in my opinion and no tour busses. Just us and the ravens, the foxes, the lizards, the pinion, the juniper, and hundreds of humming birds. There were some other campers. We kind of ignored them and they pretended to ignored us.
An excellent campsite to say the least. When I took this photo it was 110 degrees in the shade. The relative humidity was so low that sweat never appears on your skin. The condensate from the AC unit never even hit the ground once in the three days we were here. That Zip Dee awning completely paid for it self on just this stay.
Everyone has a reason for doing things. I came to this part of Utah because of a book I read in 7th grade called Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey. I saw it on an end cap at the public library and brought it home. It effected me deeply and for all these years I have dreamed of seeing the landscape Edward Abbey loved so much. His book brought me here, to Arches.
My first bit of advice for visiting Utah's national parks is ARRIVE VERY EARLY. We drove through the front gate at 7am. If doing it over I would have come at 5am.
My second bit of visitation advice is GET AS FAR FROM THE ROAD AS POSSIBLE.
We opted for the longest, furthest out hike we could find on the map. The hope was that the further one got from the cars the less people we would have to share the landscape with. This semi worked. Others know this strategy also. It was very obvious that once the path ceased being paved the crowds severely diminished. Show them one dramatic thing close to the car and most are more than satisfied. Arches is a very heavily trafficked park however. I guess more people than just me have read Desert Solitaire.
Halle could not resist bouldering. She is already blurring the rules at nine and a half.
I highly recommend you put Arches on your list.
As many of you know, I went to art school. I heard how great the art galleries are in Moab so I went to see a show.
I have not been the first visitor to this gallery. I refrained from signing the guest book.
This was one of the nicest art galleries I have ever visited because at the one end, it had this pool to cool off in.
I took in some more art along the Colorado. Sorry the photos are so crappy. These were fairly high up on the wall and the sun was very bright when I visited.
This is also one of my favorite photos from the trip. It was taken at the end of the road.
At the end of the road is this rather stark mine. It looks to be abandoned at first, but train cars were being filled and the machinery was all running. They produce potash here. There were three cars in the employee parking lot. I suspect it is rather automated. When I opened the door on the truck to take some photos I almost passed out from the heat. The lower you go in the canyon the hotter it gets. The radio said it was 111 in Moab. I guarantee it was way hotter here.
That butte you see behind the tower is Dead Horse Point. It took and hour and a half to get from here to there.
Did I mention that the sun rules in Utah?
At the end of another road is Canyon Lands National Park. Of all the parks we went to, this is by far the least visited. We saw very few people here and it is an absolutely immense park. We only saw a very small segment but it was stunning.
The hike we went on was called Aztec Mesa. It offered a nice glimpse at the landscape here. I loved how this little cone of mud was holding up what I guess was a about a 10 ton rock.
Canyon Lands offers some excellent slick rock hiking options.
The irony of slick rock is that it is not even remotely slick. Your shoes grip it like it is made of velcro. It also grips your skin when you contact it.
Slick rock is also not really rock, it is sand stone. Every step you take wears off small particles.
I loved that this hike offered us some dwelling left by the ancestral peoples.
Getting up close and personal with these structures are always interesting to me.
We had a snack here in the shade. I wonder how many before us had done the same.
I must say, there is a very fine line between life and death in these parks. If you do not have water you are going to die very quickly. We were told one gallon of water per day minimum. I though this a joke. It is in reality a very conservative number.
More to come, lots more actually.