Monday, July 25, 2016

Utah - Canyonlands


Canyonlands is right up the road from Arches National park, and just North of Moab.  Moab is a really nice little town.  I you're planning to visit or hike in Arches or Canyonlands, I would recommend staying in Moab.  We had a hotel in Cortez and we drove to Canyonlands one day and returned to our hotel.  Then we drove back again the next day for Arches.  Which means we spent a lot of time in the car.


Canyonlands is divided into two parks, Island in the Sky and Needles.  We decided to go to Island in the Sky because of pictures we saw on the Internet.  Though, it was really a toss-up.  If had the time, we would have gone to both and we intend to go back and do some hiking at needles in the future.

Before you enter the park there are a few pull-offs with a view:

After a drive, you'll arrive at the entrance gate and the visitor center is just after that.  The visitor center is across from the first look-out.  So we parked in front of the visitor center and hiked across the street to the lookout:

Yeah, that's a road.  Just to give some scale of what you're looking at.

There's an island of land that sticks out over the canyon.  The trail leads out on to the giant plateau.  You can see people out there (those little colorful dots):

Here's the trail leading to the plateau:

Here's a sign on the plateau:

The road is built for 4-wheel drive vehicles only and you have to get a permit to drive on them.

The next stop is the Mesa Arch.  This arch is featured as one of the Microsoft Windows 7 background pictures.

You have to hike a little to get to it.  It was in the 90's the day we hiked this:

Hey, there it is!

The trail follows a circular route, but the rest of the trail is pretty much the same:

This was a cool hike.  We didn't hike it because it was too hot and we were out of energy from the previous two days of Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde.

Apparently the hike involves climbing up on one of these domed shaped mountains:

Next was Upheaval Dome.  This is at the end of one loop (the park road splits into two branches, this is the end of one branch).

So we decided to hike the shortest trail and ended up hiking a lot further:

Sheesh, another hill of rock:

OK, it was worth the hike:

The sign says that the worlds foremost experts looked over this cliff and said "I got nothin'"

I say "aliens".  ;)

So now we decided that we wanted to hike some more and see what was over the next ridge.

The trail gets very steep.  There's someone at the top waiting for us to pass by:

The view at the top is nice.  The trail leads down into that greenish area below:

 We took a short detour to the top of this smooth rock on the right:

Wait for me!

Back on the trail:

We walked up the next hill before going back to the second overlook:

The second overlook:

Then it was back to the car.  There's an overlook on the way back that we stopped at:

And another overlook:

And another:

At this point, we were trying to get to the remaining overlooks before it got dark.  This is the next overlook:

And the next overlook:

Only a couple more overlooks to go...

Finally, the last overlook.  Grand View Point.  We wanted to get here before the sun went down and we almost didn't make it.

This section in the front is called the "maze".  You need a permit to hike that section of the park because it is so difficult to navigate.  Here's an article talking about the 20 most dangerous hikes.  The maze is the third one: 20 Most Dangerous Hikes.  Some day, Michelle and I are going to hike it.

For a scale comparison, you can see the road that leads to the maze:

Close ups:

More pictures from Grand View Point:

This trail leads down and around the rim.  We walked some of it.

As I mentioned earlier, Island in the sky is only half of Canyonlands.  Needles is the other half.  As you can tell, you'll need at least two days to see both sides of the park.  I would recommend hiking the trails if you can.  There is so much to see and the park is so large.



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