Friday, September 30, 2016

Moab, UT area

We did more exploring around Moab. We drove out another scenic byway, Hwy 279 which goes west along the Colorado River in a canyon, to see some rock art (petroglyphs) and to take a hike. This rock art is right along the road so there is no effort to see them.
Rock Art right along Hwy 279

Rock Art right along Hwy 279

We hiked to a nice view of Corona and Bow Tie Arches. It is posted as a 1.5 mile hike to Corona Arch but we stopped after a mile where we had a clear view. This was a very pretty hike.

Bow Tie Arch (left) and Corona
Arch (right)
We went back to town and drove along the other side of the river on Kane Creek Blvd to see more rock art. About 5 miles from town there is a big square boulder along the road with rock art all the way around it. One side in particular is really neat with some very unique drawings. The "birthing" and sandal tracks are pretty unusual. This was worth the time to see.

Note: there is a visitor information center in town on the corner of US 191 and Center street. We used their list of rock art with descriptions and detailed directions.

Huge bolder with rock art

Closer pic of rock art. Left side
shows feet first birthing

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Canyonlands National Park / Arches National Park

The next stopping point on our journey was Moab, UT. We arrived to a couple days of ugly weather
View along Highway 128

View along Highway 128
View along Highway 128
so it was a good thing we scheduled over a week to see the area. As the weather started to break up, we drove 25 miles up the Highway 128, a National Scenic Byway. It is definitely a pretty drive and iconic for the Colorado Plateau.

Canyonlands NP - view along
the Grand View Point trail
The main attractions for the Moab area are the two National Parks. We visited Canyonlands National Park first because we thought that it may be a little less crowded on the weekend. This is the largest of the Utah National Parks and it has three main areas with access points many miles apart. We went to the most accessible unit - the Island in the Sky. It gets its name because this park unit is on top of a huge mesa. The Green and Colorado Rivers have carved the canyons on each side of the mesa and they merge at the southern end of the mesa. The main attractions are the view points into the canyons. We spent a day driving to each overlook, hiking on paths to more vistas, and taking a lot of pictures. The picture taking was a battle against clouds because when you can see for up to a hundred miles, cloud shadows cause all sorts of depth perception issues. The highlight of the day was the view from the end of the trail that starts at the Grand View Point Overlook (not to mention the views along the walk). Spectacular.
Canyonlands NP - view along the
Grand View Point trail

Canyonlands NP - view at the end
of the Grand View Point trail
We next went into Arches National Park early on a Sunday morning. By 10:30 it was so crowded at every pull out that we decided to leave (if you don't have to, don't go on a weekend). We had spent enough time to see some sights and to develop a strategy when we came back the next day. Monday was much more manageable from a crowd perspective. We had a beautiful, perfectly clear day in the park. We stopped at the view points that we hadn't done the day before and did the hikes necessary to see the rest of the easily accessible arches. This park is spectacular. It isn't just about "arches". It is also about one amazing, colorful rock formation after another. There is a lot of amazing stuff to see but the absolute highlight was the Devils Garden hike all the way to Dark Angel doing all of the side trails to the various arches. Of all the hikes I've ever done (lots) this might just be the most spectacular 7 mile hike ever!
Arches National Park

Arches National Park - Double Arch

Arches NP - South & North Windows
Many would also say Dead Horse Point State Park is a must see, but really, it's basically an extension of Canyonlands National Park so if you are limited on time and don't want to pay another entrance fee, skip it.

Arches NP - Partition Arch
Pictures can never capture the amazing sites like these national parks. The beauty is just too huge and amazing. They do at least give an idea. Here are some more. Note: I don't enhance my pictures with software. These are the actual colors captured by the camera.

Arches NP - Navajo Arch

Arches NP - view along Devils
Garden trail near Double O Arch

Arches NP - Double O Arch

Arches NP - Trail to Double O Arch

Arches NP - trail above Landscape Arch

Arches NP - Landscape Arch

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Western Colorado

We are finally continuing our road trip again after three months in Denver. We left Denver and
View from our site at Rifle Gap
State Park
headed west on I-70 across the Rockies. This is a grueling drive with a big RV but beautiful (on a nice day). We went as far as Rifle Gap State Park just north of Rifle, CO. This is on the western side of the big mountains. We love the little town of Rifle, terrain around the area and the state park. From this base we did a couple of hikes and just relaxed and enjoyed the great views from our campsite.
Rifle Falls @ Rifle Falls State Park

View from above Rifle Falls
We then moved on to Fruita, CO which is just west of Grand Junction in the Grand Valley. This is a very fertile area along the Colorado River. The main objective here was to see the Colorado National Monument. Including this Monument, there are nine National Parks on the Colorado Plateau - can you name them?

The Colorado National Monument has one road that goes from end-to-end for a sensational 23 mile drive. The vista views are amazing with a lot of great rock formations and beautiful colors like the other National Parks on the plateau (have you named them yet?). It is like driving along a very small version of the Grand Canyon (oops, I gave one away). One day I hiked the Monument Canyon Trail and it was a great hike (don't do the Wedding Canyon hike due to very poor trail conditions for the difficulty). If you are ever out here add this stop to your trip plans. It is very easy to get to right off of I-70.

View on road in Colorado National

Independence Monument

A view from Otto's Trail

More formations

Independence Monument from the
the other angle
Coke Ovens

View from Book shelf vista
Ute Canyon

View of monuments from Monument
Canyon trail
Answer to the Colorado Plateau
quiz. Plus, I have to believe that
Monument Valley is on it as well. It is
not a National Park because it is owned and
operated by the Navajo Nation