Tag Archives: Utah

DEAD HORSE POINT STATE PARK

Today was supposed to be a ‘laundry, library, get-ready-to-leave’ kind of day, but as chance would have it, I went for a much needed hair cut and picked this salon that appealed to my sense of ‘funkiness’. What a great choice of places to go!!! It was called “Laura’s Hair Safari.” Laura, the sole proprietor and hair dresser, has been a resident of Moab since she was in the 9th grade (she had to have been in her mid to late 60’s at least.) Not only was she a good talker, she had a friend visiting her so I was regaled by tales of death, doom, and destruction as well as some little – known history of Moab and its residents and by advice of what I MUST absolutely see before leaving. The result? A trip to Dead Horse State Park, close to Canyonlands. They call it the “Grand Canyon of Utah”, a well-deserved name. “Dead Horse Point” is a natural canyon where wild horses were herded across a narrow, so-called ‘bridge, onto a wide plateau overlooking the Colorado River canyon. The horses couldn’t escape and legend has it that when they were left there without water and they smelled the water of the river below, they jumped to their deaths! It’s a great story….but….like many stories, not quite accurate.

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GRANSTAFF CAMPGROUND…A SPECTACULAR SITE!

This past week we have been staying at Granstaff Campground, about 5 miles up the canyon along HWY 128, from Moab. I had to include some of the pics we’ve taken. The first few days were cloudy…no sunrises or sunsets until the past few days.

We’ve taken pics from above….

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….from the water…..

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….from our windows…..

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….in the evening…..

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….at night when they lit up the cliffs for the ‘river-going-canyon-watchers’….

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…and inside eating dinner!

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RAINSTORMS, SUNSETS, AND A CANYONLANDS TRIP

After a beautiful sunrise at Arches, the day deteriorated into a rainstorm. Busily writing a blog in the Moab Library, we missed the fact that it was raining outside. Exiting the library, seeing the storm raging around Arches, another spontaneous decision was made to go and see the cloudburst in Arches,  (which normally gets very little rain). We were on the hunt for waterfalls on high….so up we went again. Just as we had chased the sunrise earlier that day, we now chased the cloudbursts.

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We waited for the sunset and were rewarded with some beautifully highlighted formations: rock and cloud formations.

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That night we had a very late supper ….in the rain….well, we were nice and dry inside. During the night, the wind came up so hard, it shook the camper.…think hurricane thoughts! Our thoughts?? We were supposed to be on the river kayaking at 9am….but….we are fair weather kayakers….the weather was not even close to fair. What to do? The only thing possible. Drive into Moab, have breakfast and wait to see what developed. The weather continued to be windy and rainy so we rescheduled our paddle for the next day. Searching for an alternative activity, we decided to go and investigate Canyonlands National Park. It was only a 37 km drive to the visitor center. It turned out to be a spectacular day…the sun came out and we were off exploring again…..what we love to do.

Our first stop: Monitor and Merrimac, two rock formations..

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Arriving at the Visitor Center, we spent some time watching a short video and chatting to one of the rangers there about hikes. Then headed out for a walk about and encountered another ranger giving a talk about the history and geology of the area, so we stopped to listen.

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We liked Canyonlands. Mike’s cousin Margaret and husband Dave had told us they wanted to investigate Canyonlands. They had spent a bit of time there and were interested in spending more. The same thing happened to us. The energy of the place was less frenetic than that of Arches. At Arches, there were cars everywhere, zooming here and there like bees on the hunt for nectar. At Canyonlands, there were fewer people and fewer cars. It was also much more open….lots of wide-open spaces amid the mesa tops…..a much more relaxed pace.

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We spent the day driving, stopping at overlooks, walking and finally, at Upheaval Dome, we did a hike of a few miles, walking up and down solid rock faces…..a good workout which we needed after all that sitting.

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We also discovered a 100 km road called “White Rim” which is a track for 4 wheel drives and bicycles which piqued our interest.

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Coming home late afternoon, we were dazzled by the new snow on the distant mountains.

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Sunrise at Arches!

EARLY this morning – GROAN… “what time is it”

Reply – “05:46”

“Should we get up?”

Reply – “I suppose… what do you think?”

“It’s cloudy… maybe rain…”

Reply – ‘as someone’s mother once said-”you can’t be a FAIR-WEATHER skier” ‘

“We aren’t GOING skiing

Reply- “Right- up we get then!”

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And so it started – shakily but after a cup of coffee we were out the door and on the way to sunrise at Arches National Park. Arriving at the entrance we could see the lights of a half dozen cars ahead of us. Guess we weren’t the only ‘brilliant’ ones.

Yesterday, we scouted out the most likely place to get excellect sunrise photos. Problem was, neither of us was quite sure where it was, exactly. LESSON: When you have a GPS, mark where you want to go AND then you can follow it back! Much more reliable than 60+ old memories. However, we found a suitable spot with 25 minutes to spare; allowing us each to pick vantage point.

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We don’t know what the official NPS name was/is but I wanted to focus my efforts on a formation that we named “ Three Maidens” (I wanted to name it ‘the 3 wenches’ but was outvoted 2 to 0 – unanimously).

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As the sun slowly began its rise, temptation to shift focus was intense.

p1010968I managed to stay focused on the Three Maidens as we reaped a wealth of beauty. And the pictures are a poor approximation of the intensity of visual stimulation. Our hearts, soared with the power of the morning.2wallsnrise4blog

Then the 3 Maidens blessed us for our patience with a mini-rainbow…

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The rest of the valley glowed.

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And then it was morning.

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A SUPER-SIZED KIND OF DAY….RIFLE, COLORADO TO MOAB, UTAH

Super-sized in terms of scenery, emotions and ….. challenges….!

Leaving Rifle, we traveled in ‘losing elevation’ mode which the truck thanked us for. It worked splendidly. Why on earth, we asked ourselves, would we want another stronger, more powerful truck when the one we have did so well??? From an elevation of around 6,000 feet in Rifle, we dropped to 5,000 feet in Grand Junction, decreasing to 4,000 feet by the time we arrived in Moab. No surprise the truck did so well. As did I….celebrating the disappearance of my constant companion, an ’altitude headache’ – Mike says it’s the wine every night… but I refuse to believe him. From Rifle onwards, we drove downwards, through a steep canyon, leveling off as we reached Grand Junction. From thereon in, until we turned off the I70 onto the US Hwy 191 to Moab, it was flat with miles and miles of sagebrush and desert-like terrain.

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Turning off the I70 is when my excitement started to build. We started seeing beautiful, red rock formations, canyons and, of course, lots more traffic.

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We saw the turn-off to Arches but we were focused on finding a place to camp and continued on. That’s when the “CHALLENGES’ kicked in. Up to this point, all was calm and peaceful. We traveled along the Colorado River where there were numerous campsites. However, they were not well-marked and they were not very specific as to where the tent sites were, when there were dead-ends….well, suffice it to say, after coming across a lot of ‘occupied’ sites and feeling a bit blue, we thought we spotted an available site and enthusiastically turned down one, narrow gravel road. To my MY HORROR, it turned out to be a dead-end…..my worst nightmare. Michael had to back our 24 foot fifth wheel out of a very tight spot. He was magnificent….I was a total wreck….a nervous, bloody basket case. But still, I managed to direct him out with no mishaps. The problem with these campgrounds was that they were all marked “FULL” and they were not well signed so by the time we saw the entrance, we were already too far past it to enter. Finally, we’d both had enough and decided to head into Moab and pay the exorbitant rates at one of the RV parks (of which there were many). Returning the way we’d come, we passed one of the campsites we’d missed and saw some available sites but, once again, too late….we’d passed it. This time though, there was a pull-off. Due to the ‘rush for sites’, after we found a suitable, available site, I sat and held it while Michael adroitly turned around the fifth wheel, kayaks and all, in the middle of the secondary highway he was parked on and just as adroitly backed into our site. Hugs and kisses were in order for my Michael.

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Soon, we were unhitched and settled in, ready for some exploring. We headed to Arches to get Mike’s GOLDEN AGE/SENIORS PASS which reduced our camping fee to half – always welcome. From there to search out how to realize our plan of kayaking down the Colorado River. We found Katherine at WILD WEST VOYAGES who completed the arrangements for us to do two, 10 mile sections of the river. She would assist us in dropping the truck at our end point, and taking us and our equipment to the starting point. When we asked about drinking water, she told us about the “MATRIMONIAL SPRING’, a natural spring where the water comes out of the rock, very pure. She said the story is that once you drink the water from this spring, you will be ‘married’ to Moab, and always return. We found it, drank from it, and yes, this may well become our new playground!

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Tomorrow, we are off to explore Arches National Park.