- July 2nd through July 5th,
- We made an uneventful drive from Mancos, Colorado to
Utah - - taking the back roads. We were fast learning
that we preferred a good two-lane route over the speedier
interstate roadways. You see more of the country and for
us in the motorhome, two-lane speeds are just fine.
Anyway if we were in a hurry, we shouldn't be driving
this behemoth! And incidentally from the direction we
were coming from, there are no interstate highways to
Moab. We located our campsite and found that early summer
temperatures were already topping 105 degrees at midday.
Therefore for our few days stay in this area, we adopted
a noonday rest period. We got up and out early, then came
back for a lunchtime siesta in the air conditioning, and
again headed out in late afternoon.
- Moab is a great location with its proximity to two
outstanding national parks. We were continuing our quest
to visit as many of the national parks as possible; we
have now been to well over two hundred and fifty - - with
several more to go. Anyway this was our second visit here
and a first for son, Benjamin. If you have a choice about
the season to come visit, we would recommend Spring or
Fall instead of midsummer. But it was on our path
northward, so we made the best of it.
- Arches National Park
- We have made this travel stop for hiking and seeing
the sights. Therefore on the afternoon of July 2nd (Our
arrival date), we headed out to visit Arches
National Park, located five miles north of the town
of Moab. This area was first set aside as a national
monument in 1929 and declared a national park in 1971.
Our goals for the remainder of the day were to stop
briefly at the entrance Visitor Center, then drive the
park road out among the giant arches, natural bridges,
fins (Middle photograph below), 'windows,' stone spires,
balanced rocks, and other stone formations. We also
planned to stop and hike out to one or two of the arch
formations. Here sliprock caps of Navajo Sandstone
(whitish color) overlay horizontal layers and slabs of
sediments from long-ago oceans, shores, and deserts.
Folds and warps in those layers indicate underlying
movement of long-buried salt deposits. Here we can see
thirteen different geologic formations that include
Paradox (the oldest and at the lowest elevation) and
extend upward to Chinle (a conglomerate formation that
contains sandstone, shale, siltstone, and claystone),
Entrada, Morrison, and others. Nature's forces - -
internal heavings, scouring of wind-blown sand, flowing
water, freezing and thawing -- have over long timespans,
shaped this landscape. The park boasts of the greatest
density of natural arches in the world; there are more
than 2,000 ranging in size from three-foot (minimum to be
considered an arch) to the longest, Landscape Arch.
Erosion and weathering continue to create new arches and
destroy old ones.
- Before starting on our road tour, we bought the
Road Guide for Arches National Park and the
Hiking Guide for Arches National Park at
the Visitor Center. They are great resources that point
out the geology, history, plants, and animals of the
park. They also highlight each formation and discuss the
hikes. The Road Guide even provides tips
for photographing the formations.
- Our first stop was to take a short-hike to Sand Dune
Arch (Above left photo). This trail was described as a
favorite of kids. We believe that we are still
kids-at-heart and Ben is a big kid, so this half-mile
round-trip was a good choice as the day began to cool. We
found Sand Dune Arch tucked back within shaded fin
formations off the right side of the trail. It was
surrounded by blown sand and the seeming ever-present
winds kicked grit into our eyes. It was beautiful but
without full-surround goggles; it was not a location to
spend a long time taking in the scenery. So we snapped a
few pictures with the digital camera and headed back up
- Our next stop in the late afternoon was Landscape
Arch (Above right photo), one of the longest stone spans
in the world. We parked at the 'Devils Garden' parking
area and hiked in one mile to the arch. Stretching 306
feet, Landscape Arch is only 11 feet thick at the center.
Until September 1991, it was thicker but first a few
pieces began to fall. Then within seconds, a slab
60-foot-long, 11-feet-wide, and 4-feet-thick sheared away
from the arch's underside. This left behind a thinner
ribbon of rock and caused hiking to be banned
- The highlight of Arches National Park is Delicate
Arch that is seen in many photographs and represented on
the Utah state license plate. We were told that sunset
was the best time to view this grand arch. Of course,
you've got to hustle back to your car, or you end up
hiking in the dark. We set off on the 3-mile, round-trip
hike in early evening. At the start of the hike, we
passed the Wolfe Ranch (Above right). This historic, late
1800's site was built by John Wesley Wolfe, a Civil War
veteran. Somehow, he and his family scraped out a living
here for several years.
- Benjamin set off in the lead and can be shown in the
photo above (You can see him there in the middle group of
hikers, sure you can!). He is already two-thirds of the
way to the top, before Larry and Annette had hardly
gotten started. As you reach the end of the trail, you
round a corner and the arch is right there! It's a great
surprise. Of course, Ben acted as if he'd been there
'hours' waiting for us slowpokes to arrive (Above left).
The sun began to set and the salmon-colored sandstone and
summer sky seemed to come alive with color. As we sat on
the smooth rocks and watched the view, we felt like we
were watching an IMAX movie... but this was real! We
stayed until it was twilight and joined the large crowd
of people hiking back who had also chosen to make this
trip an evening event. Hey no problem, its all downhill .
. . most of the way.
- Canyonlands National Park
- The following morning found us heading out again,
this time in the opposite direction. We drove southwest
to explore part of the Canyonlands
National Park. We entered at the southeastern Needles
Visitor Center and made a brief stop at the nearby
Roadside Ruin. This short trail took us to a granary
typical of Ancestral Puebloan structures. The trail also
passed by various native plants used by the Indians such
as barberry, ricegrass, peppergrass, pinyon, and juniper
Our first stop in the Needles District was Cave Springs.
After picking up a trail guide at the Visitor Center, we
set off on the short (.6) mile walk. Just a few years ago
you would have found cowboys roaming this area. Because
of the reliable water source in the form of a rainwater
seep at the base of the cliff, it was a logical place for
a camp. Cattle ranching wasn't discontinued until the mid
1970s inside Canyonlands.
- Needles District. It was
here too that we first learned to recognize
soil crust, once called blue-green algae
(Photo left). Crypto for short is made up of
cyanobacteria, mosses, soil lichens, green
algae, microfungi, and bacteria. The
cyanobacteria are most prevalent and most
important to cryptobiotiec soil. When their
filaments become moist, they advance through
the soil, binding together, and making a more
- In the photo to the right, you can see an
old cowboy camp. Situated under a cliff, the
furnishings included all the luxuries (?) of
home, ranch, and barn. This area contained
evidence of other earlier inhabitants, that
is in addition to this reconstructed line
Following the bluff on a short ways from the
cowboy camp, we discovered several groups of
pictographs. They were left by ancestral
Puebloan people, sometime between 1000 and
1300AD. These color pictographs are somewhat
unusual. Unlike the more numerous petroglyphs,
fewer numbers of pictographs survive the ravages
of weather, time, and damage by humans. These
were protected from fading and the weather by
their location underneath the rock bluffs. We
also found drawn lines and smoke-stains;
additional evidence of ancient habitation.
We next used wooden ladders to explore the
slickrock area above the overhangs. Here we
found evidence of today's inhabitants, packrats,
snakes, lizards, and rodents.
We later made another short hike to the
Roadside Ruin (.3) Trail and identified lots of
plants. We became aware of how many of the
plants we can now name such as Mormon tea,
saltbush, yucca, juniper, pinyon pine,
pricklypear cactus, sagebrush, and rabbit
bush. These were plants we hardly knew
before this summer.
The Ancestral Puebloan people were farmers
that settled in areas near good land and water.
Their crops included corn, beans, and squash.
They built granaries to store their crops along
with nuts and seeds. The granaries were created
with slabs of rock and mortar.
- Island of the Sky. On our
last morning in the Moab area, we chose a
trip to the top of Canyonlands called 'Island
of the Sky.' We walked the short half mile
trail to Mesa Arch. The picture to the left
shows the arch in the distance. The other
picture (Below left) shows the three of us
sitting below the arch. By the way, it's a
sheer drop-off right behind to a beautiful
valley floor hundreds of feet below. No
fences here. We continued practicing
identifying and naming the varied plants on
the trail back to the car.
Our last experience was a petroglyph hunt.
In addition to the pictographs at Cave
Springs, we had also made a stop at Newspaper
Rock yesterday. We got the petroglyph 'bug'
and decided to go look for a large collection
that was on Potash Road. This is a gravel
road that runs along the Colorado River. This
area next to a big wash and the river was a
popular area for early native Americans.
Shortly we found them. There were a large
number and variety of petroglyhs and we shot
so many photographs that we had to go back to
the RV and download. We then returned for
another round. As we burrowed underneath the
brush along the base of the high bluffs to
find more glyphs, we encountered a guide who
was conducting a interpretive tour for a
couple of interested clients. Before leaving
this site, Annette stood on the roof of the
car to photograph some of the petroglyphs
high on the cliff wall.
- We had a great experience. Canyonlands is a huge
expansive national park. Next time we want to rent a Jeep
and head to the Maze area of the park for a more back
country experience. We hear that people get lost out
there if they're not careful. Its called a Maze!
- Fourth of July
- One of the highlights of this trip was an unusual
Independence Day celebration. After a shopping trip
downtown, we packed a picnic and headed up the slickrock
drive to a mesa top overlooking Moab. Along with dozens
of others party goers, we enjoyed some wonderful
fireworks. Because they were set off in the valley below
us, we were able to see the fireworks without looking up.
We looked straight off the mesa to see a great light
- Drive to Wyoming
- We headed out of Moab and had a great drive through
Price, Provo, and Logan. After stopping for the Bear Lake
specialty, raspberry shakes, we camped down the road in
Thayne, Wyoming. The next day we drove through some nasty
road construction in the canyon along the Snake River.
But after a short delay, we motored on into Jackson. We
had driven into this summer tourist mecca via the
backdoor entrance, but now found ourselves smack-dab in
the middle of heavy traffic of Jackson . Where did all
these people come from?
Created by Annette
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