Moab, Canyonlands National Park to Rifle, Colorado

Published: September 6th 2011
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Sept 2 - Canyonlands National Park, Utah to Rifle, Colorado
Beautiful morning here. I drove from Cortez , Colorado to Moab, Utah yesterday. It was relatively cool in Colorado and I was much surprised to find out when I got to Moab that it was very hot. I had expected that at this higher altitude it would be cooler. Still it was tolerable once I got to Willow Flat campground in the “Island in the Sky” which is a high Mesa at 6000ft surrounded by canyons on each side except for a narrow neck of land not much wider than the road connecting it to the “mainland”. I got lucky and got a campground here as there are only 12 spaces. I used my National parks pass to get in and the campsite only cost $10.00. It had the added advantage of only being about a 100 yard walk to the Green River Overlook.
My other two choices would have been Dead horse Point State Park and there was a BLE campround of 59 spaces at Horsethief Point.
The plan for today is to go to the Grand View Point Overlook and then head back out of the Park and go
to Dead Horse Point State Park and then to Arches National Park. I’ll try to do all this before it gets too hot this afternoon. There is very limited camping here when you consider how popular the locations are and now with the weekend coming up I will see where I end up tonight.
Evening - Today I visited Canyonlands National Park and Arches, National Park. Then after eating in Moab I drove up Scenic Route 128 alongside the Colorado River in the canyon of the Colorado and when I got out of the canyon and reached I-70 I headed East to Grand Junction, Colorado.
Scenic route 128 is the way to go since they it is a beautiful drive alongside the Colorado River with towering reddish cliffs on each side. In some ways I think it was better than the national parks….and free. There are BLE campgrounds right on the river. It probably would have been better to camp here as I could have just drove down Hwy 128 into Moab if I had wanted something, and visited the parks from here as well.
The visit to the parks were awesome but the weather was hot in the afternoons and the weather in Moab was roasting hot so today after visiting Arches National Monument I had headed up the scenic route out of Utah to Colorado in search of cooler weather.
At the visitor center in Grand Junction I considered my options. Part of me wanted to just rent a room and the other part wanted to drive up to the Colorado National Monument which has camping and so save a few bucks.
I went up to the Colorado Monument Campground and found out that they wanted $20 for a campsite. Every other National Park I have camped in has only wanted $10. Those people are on drugs if they think I will pay $20 just for a place to park my truck.
So I went back into Grand Junction and checked out the State Park there. They wanted $27 for a spot. I told them before I paid that much I would just rent a room for $50.
So I went back into town and checked out the Super Wal-Mart. They had signs up that no overnight parking was allowed. And I didn't see any RV's parked there So I decided to just rent a room and decided to just drive the business route through town. Big mistake……all the motels must be on the Interstate and also Grand Junction is a much bigger city than I had thought it was. It took me forever to get through it. So finally after I got back on the interstate I decided to just find a rest area. The first rest area I found was in Parachute but I didn’t like that one so drove on to a town called Rifle and they had a very nice rest area with plenty of room and large restrooms so I set the seat back on my truck and got my rest. They had signs up that no camping was allowed but I figure that meant setting up tents etc. and I was overnight parking. The sheriff drove though later that night which made me feel good anyway as it meant that the area was patrolled by the police. I’m sure they have better things to do with their time than wake up 10 or 15 people and tell them to drive on no matter how tired they are. I noticed that the rest areas I have found in this part of Colorado are in the city limits of various towns. I guess the state has turned them over to the cities to patrol.
In any case another night of free overnight parking.

Additional photos below
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Scenic drive Hwy 128Scenic drive Hwy 128
Scenic drive Hwy 128

Scenic Drive Hwy 128 runs from Moab to I-70 alongside the Colorado River between the canyon walls. In many ways it was more scenic than the two National Parks. And several good campgrounds were alongside the road with quick access into Moab.

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