Moab is also the gateway city to Canyonlands National Park. The park is divided into three adjacent yet unconnected sections, separated by the Colorado and Green Rivers. We only visited the Island in the Sky section. When I think of canyons, I tend to think of water carved passages, but there are other factors involved in forming the canyons in this part of Utah such as faults, salt domes, inland seas, and, perhaps, even a meteorite (thought they haven’t been able to conclusively prove this.) We didn’t do any major hikes here, mostly just to various viewing spots. But what views!
Both the Green and Colorado rivers are fairly placid as they flow thru Utah, until their confluence within the park. Sadly, there wasn’t a spot to view the confluence from where we were. Looking off to the east from Canyonlands you can see the La Sal Mountains while to the west lie the Henry Mountains which was the last mountain range to be added to the map of the lower 48 states.
Arches National Park is closing early this summer due to road construction in the park, but we found an arch located outside the park that we could hike to one evening. After a near disastrous road choice, which earned the s-i-l hero-for-life honors, and which I would tell you about in more detail except that we all promised it would remain the s-i-l’s story to tell and we don’t want there to be any chance of it getting back to the rental car company, we ended up on a lovely, paved road along the Colorado River just outside of Moab. And when a highway sign says “Pictographs” with an arrow, of course we pulled over.
We continued to the Corona Arch trail. I have to say, tho we weren’t the only ones on this trail, it was really nice to get away from the crowds at the parks. We didn’t quite stay until sunset, mostly because I was nervous about tackling the ladder (I hate ladders!) and some rock scrambling sections in the dark. We were almost back to the car when the bats started coming out of the cliffs all around us! Which would have been even more wonderful if the mosquitoes hadn’t arrived at the same time. All-in-all that was probably the most adventurous expedition of the week.
One neat thing about the Moab area is that it’s not all desert mesas and canyons. The Manti-LaSal National Forest is another great place to hike. D#1 and the s-i-l really wanted to hike a mountain, while the husband and I were happy to drive to the trail head with them and breathe some cooler, mountain air. The first choice hike was nixed when the snow melt stream was running too high and fast to cross in a car. When we got out of the car to assess the stream situation we were surrounded by hundreds of butterflies. On our drive out to a different mountain access point, we saw a bear along the side of the road. Best aborted hike ever.
While the two young-uns tackled a peak (sadly not making it to the top, but with stories to rival the Corona Arch adventure,) the husband and I hiked around the alpine lakes and meadows. In the future, the husband promises not to confuse a map with a topo map. Or at least not to promise me a relatively flat hike.
There is a bit more eye-feasting I want to share with y’all. Check back later for part three.