I got underway around 11 A.M. today after getting things packed up and having breakfast with Dan Sockwell and his son. They were camped next to me, and we managed to visit a bit each day, and exchange pictures on different panoramas around the park. He and his son are from Minnesota, and on a two-month adventure around the southwest, just as I am. They were heading to Zion and the Grand Canyon after leaving the park the next day. So with our goodbyes said and e-mails exchanged I was on the way to Utah and Canyonlands National Park. Its not far, just 128 miles to the southern end of Canyonlands. On arrival there it was rather a disappointment, you can hardly get around inside the park without a four-wheel drive to see anything of consequence, so I opted to skip it and push on to Moab.
I had driven but afew miles, and I found the turnoff to the Needles area overlook of the southern Canyon. It does offer an overview of the canyon, but the day was hazy so the pictures could have been much better. It more or less resembles the Grand Canyon, but on a much smaller scale.
The Needle Point Area
The dirt in this area has a red tint to it, so the light, when it is right gives some interesting effects with the shadows and light variations. I didn't hit the area at an optimum time, so I had to just make do with what the day offered up. I spent several hours wandering around the canyon rim, and took timeout for lunch before I continued on to Moab, and the main entrance to The Arches National Park.
Moab was packed with vacationers from mostly Salt Lake City, and most of the campgrounds were full, so I was forced to go out of town and up the Colorado River several miles to find a forest service campground. It was getting late, so I pitched camp quickly and headed back to town to get a shower, gas up the truck, and pick up a few groceries.
It was near dusk when I returned to camp and the setting sun kind of gave the canyon walls an eeriness with its different colors of red and tan coupled with the diminishing light, the tricks the light was playing on the clouds, and the richness of the shadows it created.
I finally got dinner cooked and was off to bed by 11 P.M. anticipating the early morning in Arches National Park, which was less than ten miles away.
Dusk On The Colorado River
I was up and on the move by 7 A.M. after making a little breakfast, and drinking a pot of coffee. The Colorado River takes on yet another personality in the early morning light.
Morning on the Colorado
I entered the park by 8 A.M., for a quick overview of what was there, and there is a lot to see, far more than I had imagined. A person could spend weeks here exploring all the off the beaten track attractions, Arches, and geological wonders of the area. I didn't have time to spend that much time, but during my quick once around I drove over 200 miles. I took several pictures for reference, many of which I would return to later when the light would be more favorable to good pictures. Some would be good in the morning and others late in the evening. Yet many of the main Arches, and scenic areas require a person to hike a great deal. I would have to pass on most of those, since I still can't walk to far after having my bypass operation several years ago. The largest Arch in the park is Landscape Arch, and it is but .8 miles in to it. I would make that journey and the best light is early morning so I would do that the next morning.
The Arches National Park
There's just so much to see here, these pictures are but an overview of what you will encounter. In my opinion this park is a must see. It would be better to see it in the spring or fall as the summer temperatures can reach far about 100 degrees. You should also do a little hiking before you get here, as the best parts are far from the roads, and the added fitness' would definitely be a plus towards maximizing your visit.
During mid afternoon I left the park to retrieve my little camper and reposition it to the campground deep in the park near Landscape Arch, that way I could get an early start without having to drive 30 or so miles first. If you plan on staying there make sure you make reservations far in advance as it is not large and spaces are at a premium. It is a nice campground, although there are no utilities and no showers, water is available and bathrooms with flush toilets are the standard.
As the sun was setting I returned to Delicate Arch. Delicate Arch is probably the most photographed Arch in the park, but it is 1.5 miles up a rocky trail to the ridge above it, that was out of the question for me due to my mobility problems, but you can see it from the lower viewing area in the distance, so with the help of a very large 500mm lens, and a doubler I was able to bring it down to me in the parking lot.
Delicate Arch at Sunset
I was awakened just before dawn by a howling coyote, so just stayed up and made coffee so I could get an early start for the hike back into Landscape Arch, and to possibly make my return before to many people were on the trail and the light was still good enough to get quality pictures. On the way into Landscape Arch were a couple of side trails of like .3 miles to Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch, and since it was early into the hike I felt good enough to go for it and see them also, they were small but still worth the walk, I thought at the moment. I would regret it later.
Pine Tree Arch
It took me about an additional 45 minutes to reach Landscape Arch as I just eased along as my legs would permit it. Along the way I spotted a couple of deer and a Desert Big Horn ram, as desolate as the area is it really is teaming with wildlife, but as all animals do they adjust to their environment, in this case they are mostly nocturnal to avoid the blistering heat.
When I reached Landscape Arch, my legs were gone, and it was going to be a slow painful journey back to my truck. It took me almost an hour and a half to get back to the truck, and I was exhausted.
After taking a break and making some lunch, I contemplated my next leg of the Journey. I decided to re look at some of the things I had seen earlier since they were along the way to the park exit and I finally left the park around 3 P.M. I headed up the road to Canyonland North just afew miles up the road where I would take a quick look and decide what to do the next morning on the next leg of my journey.
I finally found the Hersthiep Campground thirty something miles on the road to Canyonland after some serious searching. The campground was juat a little spot off the road and wasn't marked to well. There I would stop for the night to recharge my batteries, I was hungry and dog-tired. By 7 P.M. I was out like a lamp.
Sunset at Canyonland
I was up and around by 8 A.M. today, and I was still sore from the previous days hiking, so I was not to enthused to have a repeat performance today, I simply was not fit enough to do it again.
Gemini Arch was not to far from camp, so I started the day there. The turnoff wasn't but a couple of miles up the highway to the turnoff, and then 5 more miles down a bumpy dirt road, then a mile down a near goat trail, that a four wheel drive would have been much better, but after an hour I had gotten as close as I could get in a vehicle, so alas let the hike begin. It wasn't far maybe a quarter mile at best to a vantage point across the small canyon where the arch was located. With its name Gemini Arch, I took for granted it would be a pair of arches, but after much searching I could only find the one, and it was not all that special.
It took me near an hour to return back to the highway and enter the main part of the park, which in reality isn't all that large; It only took most of the morning to drive the entire road system. There is much more to see if you are up to hiking to the bottom of the canyon, which I wasn't and my time constraints wouldn't allow it anyway.
There are many vistas that are almost breathtaking; it is kind of a smaller version of the Grand Canyon and is really worth seeing.
Canyonland National Park
I spent the balance of the morning prowling around the park, and by shortly after noon was ready to head on up the highway towards Wyoming and Teton Park. After consulting my map I would have to go through Provo Utah along the way, then back east a bit to hit the road to Jackson Wyoming and the entrance to Teton Park.
After stopping for gas in Green River Wyoming, I stopped at a rest area, which was serving free coffee and sodas and it hit me. I was going to hit Teton and Yellowstone on Memorial Day weekend, that was going to suck, so I decided to stop for the night south of Provo at Diamond Creek Campground which was like 12 miles off the main highway. When I arrived there, it was full, so I continued up the little two-lane road until it turned to dirt and found another one, that was mostly empty, but now I was almost 30 miles from the highway. After setting up camp, I discovered my refrigerator had screwed up and all my meat was going to spoil if I didn't cook it right now, so instead of dinner for the night I had to cook all the meat I had. It seems the DC 12 volt part of the fridge had given up and would only work on propane or 110. By midnight I had all the cooking done and was off to bed. I would worry about tomorrow tomorrow.