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Published: June 25th 2017
Geo: 38.2574, -109.963
This is our second day in Moab, Utah and the plan for this day was to visit Canyonlands National Park. We left the hotel at 8:30 and 72 degrees. The park is about a half hour away, so we were there around 9 AM. The drive to the park was absolutely incredible, through canyons surrounded by high-rising walls of orange and red stone. The early morning sun shined a warm light on the east-facing facades, casting shadows on the ripples and caves in the walls. It makes you feel small and insignificant, but also privileged to have the opportunity to see and enjoy what nature has provided.
We drove up about 3,000 feet into the park, which is large, but access to the canyon is limited. Most of the park lies thousands of feet below the viewing areas and extends for miles. This park, like Arches, is a half day park, unless you decide to take advantage of the many hiking trails. Most of these trails are for seasoned hikers, and on a day in the desert, in August, with a clear sky, only seasoned hikers would want to embark on such a hike. The trails are rocky and
many are challenging. We took one that was only about half a mile round trip. It took us down hill on rocks and red desert sand to a plateau where we could stand and look down into the canyon and across to the eastern face. From there we could see orange and red and purple walls. The floor of the canyon is rutted with deep irregular gorges zig zagging around, where water used to run, but not anymore, except for the green river, which still flows through one part of the canyon and eventually to the Colorado River.
This canyon reminded me a lot of the Grand Canyon, but on a smaller scale. It is not nearly as long and as deep, but it had many of the same characteristics. The area around it is much more desert like, with red soil, dead and dying sage and Douglas Fir, many past their life span, providing interesting artifacts to view.
I am finding it difficult to present the reality of what we are seeing. I try to describe it, and I take photos of it, but unless you are actually here, you cannot begin to experience what it truly is, how
massive it is. When I stand at a vista, my eyes and mind see 180 degrees of what is around me, but when I take a photo, I get only a small percentage of that view. It doesn't begin to represent what is actually there. I am including videos where I span the area and try to show the totality of it, but the bottom line is, you have to be here to really appreciate it.
We drove the two main roads, stopped at all of the viewpoints and returned to the park entry in 3 ½ hours. And if I knew yesterday what I know today, we would have done Canyonlands yesterday and Arches today, because we could have spent more time in Arches. As a matter of fact, after leaving Canyonlands, we headed back into Arches. There was a section of viewing areas that were closed yesterday and open today, so we drove back in and took them in. And we were able to snap a photo of the Delicate Arch.
Tomorrow, we head west to Capital Ridge National Park. I am not sure what lies in store for us there, but I am certain that it will be
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