Our plan was to get into the campground at Arches, but we found it full and the park was crowded, so we bailed and found a boondocking spot north of the park and near Canyonlands.
Both of these parks are close to each other and Moab, UT and great little town based on tourism and outdoor activity. If you like doing things outside, they have it here. It is a center for hiking, biking, climbing, rafting, and generally connecting with nature. Canyonlands is separated into three sections and the most visited is called Islands in the Sky. It is formed by the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers, which are also responsible for the wonderful canyons here. We spent several days hiking the trails in the area, and looking at the amazing vistas overlooking the canyons.
The perspective is from above, as this section is on the rim of the canyons and looking down into them.
We climbed several buttes and visited several historical sites of the original people to live here. Many left their art work on the canyon walls.
We took a ride down the Shaffer Trail, originally a trail used to move livestock from summer grazing areas on the canyon rim down into the valley. In the late 50's and early 60's, it was expanded to a roadway when Uranium mining was going on. Now it is used only for tourist travel and sightseeing. We checked it out and it seemed in good shape and spoke to a ranger who also said it was in good shape. We thought the truck would be up to it so off we went. It is a dramatic route down the canyon wall in a single lane dirt road with 1500 foot drops off the precipice requiring careful attention. The views are incredible.
Once down in the canyon floor, we traveled along the Colorado River with the road becoming very rough in spots.
Eventually, we made it back to a paved road and then onto Moab.
The camping spot we were in north of town was a typical dispersed camping spot with desert environment and a few juniper trees. On our third night we were expecting a cold front with a breeze and possibly some rain and snow. What we got was rain with 30 mph winds and gusts to 50 mph. Our tent wasn't up to the winds and collapsed with one of the supports bending. This, despite my attempts to stabilize it with lines to the trees around us. We pulled our sleeping bags into the truck and spent a restless but dry and comfortable night in the truck. We had planned the next couple of nights at a motel in town and this just made it more welcome.
We were able to get an early start and grab a spot at the campground in Arches National Park and spent three days hiking to the arches and seeing the sites.
The geology of the place is fascinating. The uplift that occurred millions of years ago caused parallel rifts to form in the sandstone which then eroded forming what are known as fins,
which then with further erosion form arches. If you like them, this is the place. They come in all shapes and sizes and are all beautiful.
We hiked to the most famous one, Delicate Arch,
and the largest, Landscape Arch,
and many more. Lots of photos in the gallery.
We were then off to the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park. It is south of Moab and the drive into the park is though a collection of mesas and buttes standing straight up from the canyon floor. The perspective from this area of the park is from the floor looking up. The needles are sandstone spires formed during the uplift by rifts in the sandstone and then gradual erosion over the years. The result is an amazing variety of sandstone natural sculptures.
We wandered among them on several hikes, taking us through several slot canyons and caves,
and walking across the slickrock on trails marked with cairnes. The campground here was not so busy, so we enjoyed a spot there for several nights.
We continue to be amazed by the parks and their natural beauty. Each one is a bit different and even though we have had a lot of time to spend, we would have liked more. There will be plenty more for us to see in the future. Next we are off to Canyon of the Ancients, Hovenweep and Mesa Verde.