I had been to Canyonlands and Arches National Parks previously and wanted to be sure that Celia was able to visit these wonders. They are truly beyond expectation and fascinating to visit. Moab UT is the obvious place to use as a home base but there are plenty of other areas as well. We stayed part of the time in a BLM campground called Ken’s Lake which is only about 15 minutes south of Moab. It is a beautiful site, well worth the $15 a night! It is a first-come, first-served campground so we drove over and staked our claim before bringing the camper. Both of us wished we could have stayed longer.
If you plan to come, plan ahead. September and October are great times to come, but there will be many other visitors with you. The hotels, campgrounds, etc. are very busy and visiting short-notice can be difficult. Moab is not only the gateway to this area, but a hub for mountain biking and 4X4 off-roading.
Canyonlands compared to Arches is a very, very large park. Much of it is inaccessible without 4X4 wheel drive. It is divided into three parts, the Island in the Sky, Needles District, and The Maze. The last two, especially The Maze, are not frequently visited due to the distance from Moab. The Colorado and Green Rivers, which have no bridges that can be crossed in the parks, makes traveling between these areas a multi-hour journey. For example, it would easily be 2.5 hours to travel from the Visitor Center at Island in the Sky to the Needles District Visitor Center.
One day we visited the Island in the Sky and along the way, the Dead Horse State Park. Dead Horse is adjacent to Canyonlands and is a “must see”. The view from the namesake point is fantastic overlooking the Colorado River.
Island in the Sky is a tremendous mesa that towers over 1000 feet over the surrounding “sandstone bench” which is another 1000 feet above the Colorado and Green Rivers that serve as its borders. This sandstone bench is ringed with a “White Rim”.
There is an extensive network of 4X4 roads that travel along this white rim road and visitors spend days traversing it. Island of the Sky is also home to the famous Mesa Arch which is frequently photographed at sunrise and featured on commercials, such as the “Like a Rock” ads for Chevrolet. After a full day, we took the Silver Fox back to Moab.
I thought it would be worth the time to visit the Needles district of Canyonlands as well, if for no other reason than for the drive into the park. There is only one road into this area and it is one of my most memorable drives in any national park. Pictures cannot capture how majestic this road is.
Part of the journey is through land that is a part of the Bears Ears National Monument. You might have heard or read about the controversy surrounding this area. We visited this area of Canyonlands and took a few short hikes. We were able to view the “Needles” from a distance but did not have sufficient time to hike to them. There are many wonderful trails here, many over “slickrock” and hikers rely on “cairns” (small piles of rocks) for trail markers. Celia agreed that this is a great area to visit and, like so many places, we wished there was more time to visit. Perhaps a future piddlin’.
Serendipity followed us to Moab as well. Some Richmond VA friends, Dave and Jada, realized that we would be in town at the same time. We were able to spend the evening with them. Over dinner one night, we answered some questions and shared about our experiences and lifestyle. We had a wonderful time and really enjoyed spending time with our friends from back East.