I departed Monument Valley late in the afternoon and headed north-east in the direction of my next destination, Moab, Utah. At about 7:00 PM I arrived in the quaint little high-desert town of Bluff, Utah. A town put on the map by a rugged group of Mormon Missionaries in the 1880s.
It was still about 90 miles to Moab, the sun was setting and clouds were forming overhead and so I decided to stay the night in Bluff. I found a little 1940s Motel, the kind with 7 rooms all lined up next to one another behind the office with a cool neon sign. I was lucky and got the last room! I unloaded a few things from my truck and then walked a few blocks to the Cottonwood Steakhouse for dinner. The place was full of European Tourists heading to Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon in the other direction! I enjoyed a great steak, got a nice night’s rest and headed north toward Moab the next morning.
At about 10:00 AM I arrived in Moab, got some ice for the cooler, a few items from the grocery store and headed into Arches National Park for the day.
Arches National Park is only a few miles north of town and definitely worth a visit if you are in Moab. The Park was pretty full, lots of visitors with kids enjoying the great outdoors during the last few weeks of Summer Vacation! I parked in the lot near Delicate Arch and hiked the 2.0 miles uphill to see it. It’s a popular hike, upon arriving at the Arch, there were at least 75 other visitors already there with cameras flashing! I waited patiently to try to capture a few picture of the Arch, sans people, which was more difficult than you may think! I didn’t even try to get a picture alone under the Arch as the line was 20 deep!
On my way back to the parking lot, I stopped to see some petroglyphs on a rock-face, trying my best to figure out if they were really ancient writings or modern graffiti? Since there was no spray-paint involved, I’m pretty sure they are at least a few hundred years old!
I then headed to a few more arches and hiked another 4 to 5 miles. Arches National Park is unique in that it has the largest concentration of natural rock arches in the world, over 2000. Many collapse every year by the forces of nature, as the wind and water work to slowly form new ones!
It was getting late in the day so I looked for a spot to camp. I found an available site along the Colorado River and enjoyed watching all the rafting and kayaking activity pass just feet from my campsite until sunset!
Up early the next morning, I headed back south through Moab, after about a 90 mile drive, I arrived at the Needles District of the Canyonlands National Park. I stopped at the visitors center, watched a short movie on the history of the Park, briefly spoke with a Ranger and then headed to the Colorado River Overlook, a 9 mile 4×4 drive followed by a 1.5 mile hike on foot to see the Colorado River from the cliffs above.
The drive was exciting for a novice 4×4 driver like myself. There was no one there to spot me as I tried to negotiate some of the more difficult sections of the trail. I guess that’s good, it allowed me to see the capabilities of “Bessie” the Tacoma and helped me get over some of my fears of solo 4×4-ing! The 9 miles took about an hour to drive. I parked next to a large rock formation and hiked the last 1.5 miles to the Overlook on foot! The view of the Colorado River was spectacular and well worth the effort!
I spent about 30 minutes at the Overlook and quickly hiked back to my truck. The Ranger at the Visitor Center warned me earlier that a storm was approaching and she was correct, thick dark clouds were heading my way! I needed to cross a few dry riverbeds on my way back to pavement and wanted to exit the sandy trails before the rains. Thor was once again good to me and I made it to pavement just as the rains hit…
A great day in Canyonlands for sure!