Got up at the crack of dawn and made our way into Canyonlands under a moonless, star filled sky. The kind you only get when the closest major city is 250 miles away. We hiked the short 1 mile hike to the mesa arch for the sunrise. It was a crisp 20 degrees out and windy. It was pretty brutal. When we got to the arch there was about 4 “photographers” all ready to get their sunset pics on. I with my tripod wanted the same. We jockeyed for position for a while. Jill got stuck talking to the wives of the photographers, who mainly only wanted to talk about there husbands and their husbands professions. The sunset was beautiful. The sun lite up the bottom of the arch and it glowed red. The windy weather shortened the amount of time we were able to stick around and watch it though. Jillian was a frozen popsicle. So we quickly hiked back to the whip.
We drove south through the park to the “Grand View” hike. The sun was still low on the horizon, so the “grand view” was more like the “blinding, i can’t see anything or take any pics view.” Jillian, the queen of naps (She naps almost every time I’m driving) decided we should take a nap and wait for the sun to get a little higher in the sky. I had to agree it was a good idea. This is the best part of having a bed in the back of you car. So we snuggled up under our heavy down comforter on this Tuesday morning and went back to bed for 3 hours. When we woke up the sun was high, the wind was gone, and the temp climbed to 45. Refreshed, off we went. The Grand View hike follows the rim of a huge canyon. Within the canyon is another canyon that has a weird finger like shape. Its a short 1 mile hike with a grand view. Wink wink.
Watch out! cool guy on the loose
From there we drove to Dead Horse Canyon. It was a state park so we had to pay a couple bucks to get in. Before we checked out the view we made lunch in the van. Canned chilli with tortillas and juice boxes. For desert of course it was twinkles (The new, fully stocked van snack.) Then we checked out this view.
Canyonlands has 3 big sections. Today we only hit “Islands in the sky.” The “Maze”rely remote and is unvisitable without a four wheel drive vehicle. The “needles” section is far south and we just got lazy. So we were done with canyonlands. Now it was the Moab high desert’s other national park, Arches. A very famous symbol of Utah and arguable the southwest is the Delicate Arch. Its on the state quarter and the states license plates. Word on the street is that the Delicate arch at sunset is the place to be. A bucket list sort of thing. It was late afternoon and perfect timing to start the 3 mile round trip hike to the bottom of the arch. We got our snack on and loaded up the pack with more snacks and warm gear for when the sun went down. This time of year the temp will drop 30 degrees once the sun goes in hiding. Jillian brought her trusty/nerdy walking stick. The trails are marked buy stacks of rock every 100 feet or so called rock cairns. This hike started at an old mud and stacked log house the was built in 1888 by John Wolf. From there it climbed up a slick rock face. Most of this hike going to the arch was uphill. Then it weaved among large smooth rocks and crusty desert trees. Then, BOOM! There she was. So beautiful. Way bigger then I expected. What makes this arch stand out from the rest in the park that we will see tomorrow, is that it stands all by itself. It’s not a hole cut out of a large rock or a span between 2 huge rocks, it’s just an arch standing alone. It’s truly remarkable. Not only is the arch alone really cool but the surrounding area is like a rock playground. the arch sits right on a ledge on the rim of a huge bowl. At the top of the bowl is large smooth rocks stacked with weird formations in them. At the bottom of the bowl is a small area with pooled water and some vegetation. I was in love with this spot. I could spent all day there. We were there for about 2 hours give or take. We watched the sun completely set behind the desert. The low angle of the sun gave the rocks a once red yellow glow. We shared the view with about 50 others. I heard in the summer during peak season it’s in the couple hundreds. Yikes. This experience was one of my favorite things on the trip to date. I wanted to spend all night there and I coulda.
Can you say over reaction?
We spent the night in the Devils Garden Campground within the park. It was a very unique spot. We cooked up a freeze dried meal, chicken breast with mashed potatoes, and it was lights out in Moab.
P.s. In a little more then a week we’ll be in tee shirt weather. Suck It!
Next Stop: Mas Arches NP