So, after our Coachella experience, we were off to Moab, but before we hit Moab, we had a quick stopover in Vegas. This was mainly a launching point for a quick work trip for me and a place for Greg to get a few projects done. (Yea, the projects never seem to end!!) And, as luck would have it, we also overlapped a couple of days with our friends Lee and Trace as they were meeting up with their daughter there to celebrate her 21st birthday. As much as we’d like to say we had a “what goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas” kind of weekend, it was fairly boring, with a couple of great meals, some friend time, and a stroll on the strip.
What's a trip to Vegas without visiting Paris!!
The Bellagio.....still think this is one of the prettiest hotels on the strip!
And we still need to work on our selfie skills!!
On to Moab. Back in the 80’s, when the uranium boom busted, the town reinvented itself into an outdoor adventure mecca. And an outdoor mecca it is. Mountain biking. Canyoneering. UTV/ATV/Jeeping. Hiking. Rafting. Moab has it all. With so many attractions in the area, the town of Moab has managed to keep its small town feel. There are some chain hotels and a few chain restaurants, no big box stores, but yet had everything we needed.
This has been a stop that we have been looking extremely forward to and when we originally planned our route, we were going to go there mid-summer, but then checked some average weather temps (July temps in Moab can be in high 90’s to 100) and ultimately decided we should hit it earlier in our route, which meant a little backtracking later. We also had planned to do some boondocking, but a few weeks before we arrived, the local BLM office had put a bulletin out about how the BLM campgrounds were filling up quickly so we got a little nervous and booked a spot for our time there. The majority of the BLM land in the Moab area are first come first serve campgrounds (no hook ups - $15), with very limited dispersed (free) camping. Now that we have the lay of the land, next time we would try our luck at getting a spot at one of the BLM campgrounds.
Our first night, we had lucked out and got a reservation at Dead Horse Point State Park, which is one of those places you have to be online the day the reservation window opens to get a spot, but we were fortunate to find an opening for one lone night. Score.
One of two larger sites at the Park
The campground itself is small (around 20 spots) and nothing too special; the beauty of the place is beyond the campground; it's the views. Absolutely incredible. We did a couple of hikes, checked out the stunning views and really enjoyed the one night that we were lucky enough to get.
Dead Horse Point State Park
The views were stunning....
And lots of cool places to take some pics!! My yoga pose!!
Greg's yoga pose!
Reflecting on our overall time in Moab, if we could have scored three nights in this park, it would have been perfect as it’s also a great location to explore Canyonlands National Park from, but it's around 30 miles from Moab, so a trek to most everything else.
On our second day, we moved to Kane Springs Campground, which is a very unique campground. They have about ten full hook up spots tucked in a canyon and then they have a very large open field next to the Colorado River with a lot of dry camping spots. Since we were late to the party with reservations, and the town was hosting two big events during our visit there, our options were limited and this was the only campground that we were able to get a reservation at for our entire time there. The pros were that it was a beautiful drive and location, it was a very small campground that was only full on the weekends and it was only three miles from town. The cons were that it was between two canyons, which meant no cell/internet service and it was also a trail head for a very challenging off roading trail, which was really only an issue on weekends when the entire town was buzzing with off road activity. We managed to deal with it because for the most part, the positives outweighed the negatives.
Our quaint little campground
We had our own little cave/tunnel!!
The no cell/internet thing--while it created some angst--we managed okay as I would get up early and travel to my satellite parking lot/office in town for a few hours where I’d knock our some work, then head back to the rig and then most days headed back towards town for something, so we were in cell range more than we were out of it.
While we had a couple of things on our list of places to hit—Arches and Canyonland National Parks, the list continued to grow while we were there. The area is abundant with things to do and we could have stayed for months and not hit everything we wanted to.
The National Parks
The area is home to two uniquely different National Parks and since it was so convenient, we were able to go several times. But, first off, since Facebook knows your every move, I had an ad pop up on my feed for the Just Ahead app, which is a virtual GPS-enabled tour app of the various National Parks. (For us old old fogies, think back to the cassette tapes that you put in your car tape deck--that providing you drove at the exact speed you were supposed to--gave you a nice audio play-by-play of what you were seeing….okay, like that, but a hundred times better!!) The guides are downloaded to your phone so you don’t have to have cell signal when using it, but because it's GPS-enabed, it is able to follow you around and queue what’s next on your route and tell you about it. Since we will be hitting several of the parks this year, we downloaded the app and purchased a year access to their library for $30. While we didn’t do our research to see what other apps may be out there that do the same thing, we found this app to be extremely well done and a tremendous asset as we toured the Parks and even the surrounding areas around the Parks. (You can download just one guide for $15-20, but the subscription is quite the value if you are going to more than one park!)
Arches National Park is home to over 2000 arches, so hopefully you have some popcorn ready!! OK, maybe we didn’t capture all 2000 of them, but we did get see several of them and by my count, we have about 1990 or so to go!! We ended up visiting the Park on three different occasions, and the time of day really impacted the coloring of the pictures we took!
One down, only 1999 more to go!!
No, Greg is not visually impaired...
For some reason, he likes to have his hiking poles extra long!! Don't ask me!!
Tunnel Arch and a tree
The infamous Delicate Arch
Wolfe Ranch - John Wolfe settled here in 1888 and for around 18 years lived in
the small little cabin in the middle before building the bigger one on the left.
You enter into these narrow rocks....(by the shadow)....
to get to Sandstone Arch
The park is undergoing some road construction, so it's closed from 7pm to 7am Sunday - Thursday, which means you can only do sunsets on Friday or Saturday. The park has a totally different look at that time of day.
The sunset really bring out the colors.
La Sal mountains in the background with Turret arch in the middle.
Canyonland National Park, comprised of over 337,500 acres, is an expansive park and divided into four districts: Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze and the Colorado River (and its tributaries). The districts are anywhere from two to six hours apart, so exploring them all isn’t easily feasible, but we did hit two of the most assessable districts—Island in the Sky and the Needles. Island in the Sky was about a 45 minute trek from Moab, while the Needles was a good hour and a half (in the opposite direction) and a lot more remote. If you head that way, make sure you have enough gas in your tank (or if not, you can pay $4.00 a gallon at the convenience store outside the park...yea, we made that mistake!)
Canyonlands - Island in the Sky
The canyons are magnificent!
Canyons and mountains
On the way in to the Needles District in Canyonlands is Newspaper Rock.
It is a very cool petroglyph panel etched in sandstone that records
approximately 2000 years of early human activity.
Also on the way to Needle district, we ran across an area called Crack Rock.
Of course we laughed at the name, but it's a very popular rock climbing area
And inside Canyonland National Park, Needles
Needles: Wooden Shoe Arch
Needles: Roadside Ruin, it's hard to see the ruin in the first picture, but it's tucked in there.
This ruin would have been used as a storage bin for grain, food, etc.
Needles: It's so hard to capture the depth of the canyons
And more beauty ....
It's pretty fascinating that this area is home to two National Parks--Arches and Canyonland--both within an hour of each other and as you can see, they are two very unique and distinctly different parks.
Moab is the mountain biking capital and there are some incredible bike trails and is home to the renowned Slick Rock bike trail.
Slick Rock Bike trail........look at those two crazies riding the trail.....uh, not us!!
This is our bike riding adventure, which was a nice six mile paved trail
along the Colorado River. The 'adventure' on our ride was biking along the highway for a bit!
There are some great hikes in the area too. Pritchett Canyon was right outside our back door, so I tackled portions of that on a couple of different occasions.
We both made the trek to Corona and Bowtie Arch, which is about a three mile (round trip) moderate hike.
Climbing the ladder to get to Bowtie and Corona Arch
And, there they are!! Well worth the hike!!
And Greg taking a quick rest before we made the trek back!
We spent a lot of time doing random drives just exploring the beauty of the area. Most of the times we stayed on paved roads, but did tackle some of the easier back roads in our truck.
Here's a pictorial recap of some of our favorite drives:
A waterfall in the rocks above Ken's Lake
Kens Lake... This is a BLM camping area and you can see the spots in the far background.
Our next trip to Moab, we'd attempt to get a spot here; it was really nice.
Kane Springs Road
Kane Springs Road turns into a dirt road, go about two miles
and you will find the Birthing Panel Rock. There are petroglyphs on all four sides
And this is how birthing rock got its name.
Makes you wonder exactly what they were birthing!?!
Sand Flats Recreation Area, which is a very popular four wheeling area,
full of petrified sand dunes.
We drove the entire "main road" through Sand Flats and then followed a road towards the La Sal Mountain Loop to Geyser Pass, where the landscape changed significantly. We saw some white stuff on the ground and we quickly turned the truck around and got the heck out of there!!
One lone pine in the middle of the other trees!
Potash Road, runs along the Colorado River, across from Kane Springs Road.
There are a lot of interesting things to do off this road (including Bowtie and Corona Arch trail)
Some petroglyphs on the rocks along Potash Road
And Potash Road is another popular rock climbing area, but the rocks people climb are
right next to the highway. Repel too fast and splat, you'll end up on a windshield!!
About 30 miles from Moab, on highway 191 is this very cool...wait for it.....arch!!
And a little farther on 191, you reach the turnoff for Needles/Anticline Overlook (CR 132). Follow the road for about ten to fifteen miles and you hit both of these incredible overlooks. The Needles Overlook provides a good, though distant view, of the Needles section of the park. The Anticline Overlook provides a great panorama of Canyonlands and the La Sal Mountains.
I think he does this just to scare me!!
And the views continue
About 15 miles northeast of Moab, is a very small town/village called Castle Rock; population 319, but some very cool rock formations that probably give you an indication how it got its name!!
Also a popular landscape for some old Western movies!
And it was all of these explorations that really created a strong desire for us to do some (real) four wheeling. Not wanting to risk any damage to our truck, we splurged a little and rented a UTV and conquered Hell’s Revenge, which is rated a six on a ten point scale. We rented it through the Moab Tourist Center, so we had the best of both worlds, a guide, but also got to drive our own UTV. We did the sunset tour, and man, it was awesome! Hell's Revenge is in the Sands Flat recreation area, which is a landscape full of high plain slick rock domes, bowls and fins, all making for some excellent off roading trails.
Happy as a kid in a candy store!!
These UTV's could go over almost anything!!
Yes, it really was as steep as it looks!!
And there he goes again!!
Yea, looked like too much fun!! Had to join him!!
We ran across this on the trail; they were shooting a video for the Navistar.
And yes, they took the machine gun down when they got it down off the rocks.
We didn't do this part of Hell's Revenge, but did get to watch one group do it. Crazy!!
The entire tour lasted around three hours and we stopped at some key viewing points to take pictures and soak up the beauty. And as far as a challenging course goes, well, if this was a six, would hate to see what a ten looks like. It was wicked cool….and a little scary in spots!!
The four wheeling didn’t stop there, as that was so much fun, we splurged a little more and opted to rent a jeep for a day and do some more off road exploring.
This was our jeep for the day. Her name was Reina.
While we had all intentions of hitting Dome Rock, but a wrong turn had us exploring some of the off road trails in Canyonlands National Park instead. Let’s just say we have a history of being adventurous without maps (and no cell service) and by about 4:00, not knowing where and if the "road" would eventually end on a main road or intersection, and after traveling into the canyon about 75 miles, we ended up turning around….which after looking at a map the following day, ended up to be the right decision.
Just a sample of some of the views during our drive
Musselman Arch... It's hard to see in this pic and technically it's a bridge,
but guess they want to keep with the whole Arches theme!!
Was hoping to see a mountain goat and right before it got dark...there he was!!
I told Greg the only thing that would be better was if there was a rainbow....
And then....there was a rainbow!!
So, remember the no map issue we had, well, night fell as we continued to make our way out of the canyon. Night equals complete darkness and then, finally a small road sign: Visitor Center 6.5 miles. Only 6.5 miles!! Sweet!!!
And, this was the road that got us out of the canyon....for 6.5 miles!
Glad I had no idea before we started up the road what it looked like!
Did I mention it was completely dark!?!
And a few more things...
It can't be rainbows all the time. The low light of our trip was with our little buddy Hobie, who somehow got some nasty foxtail pieces in both of his ear canals. The foxtails had to be removed, but he was a little too squirmy and the attempts to remove them created too much pain for him so he had to be sedated. The vet was awesome; she gave him a little happy juice, reached into his ears with a needle noise plier-like apparatus and yanked those bad boys out. Hobie slowly woke up and all was right with the world again.
Greg serving as nurse for the operation
Hobie's foxtail pieces on the left. Picture of what a foxtail is on the right.
And a nice way to wrap up our trip….a dinner at the Moab Brewery with some friends we met at the Xscapers Convergence--Kim and Scott! A funny side note, as we were waiting for them, we ran into a guy that I used to work with about five years ago. At that time, he lived in Illinois, and now lives in the St. Lake City area and was in the Moab area doing some mountain biking. Seriously, what are the odds?!!
Yummy dinner at the Moab Brewery!!
Well, we tried to condense an action-packed couple of weeks into one post, but it’s hard to convey just how much we enjoyed Moab. Some places are worth a splurge, and while we try not to live our life on the road like a vacation and typically do a good job with that, this was one of those places we went a little crazy!!
Our guide for the UTV adventure said he has lived in the Moab area for around 12 years, and still hasn’t run out of things to do or places to explore. Easy to believe after our short visit! This is definitely one of those places that is going back on our “must visit again” list.