Colorado - Utah Trip 2014

Part 3: Moab, Utah - Page 2

July 9th & 10th

As you may recall, we did not complete the Top of the World trail, and we originally planned to return the following morning. Dad felt that he would rather head out to Canyonlands instead, so we did. We started out on the White Rim Trail near Potash, exactly where we left off at sunset the previous day. This trail is well used and is more like a rough gravel road. I don't remember seeing any place on this trail that could not have been driven in two wheel drive.

Jim at Canyonlands Nat'l Park  Dad is busy with the binoculars, checking out the jet boat on the Colorado River below. This is a rather unique place as we are already deep in the canyon, yet far above the river.

Colorado River and Chicken Corners from Canyonlands Nat'l Park  Looking across the Colorado River to a place called Chicken Corners. Taken from Fossil Point which is the place where the convertible was launched in the movie "Thelma and Louise".

Looking up at Dead Horse Point from Canyonlands Nat'l Park  Looking up at Dead Horse Point. If you look closely, you can see the canopy at the overlook on top of the cliff.

Dead Horse Point is a peninsula of rock on top of tall cliffs. It is connected to the adjoining mesa by a very narrow strip of land about ninety feet wide. There are many stories about how this high point of land received its name. According to one story, the point was used as a corral for wild horses back in the late 1800's. Horsement would round up wild horses that roamed the mesa, then herd them across the narrow neck and out onto the point. It was quite easy to build a short fence across the neck and thus keep the horses contained. Because of the sheer cliffs, there was no way for the horses to escape this corral. Men would then choose and remove the horses that they wished to keep, and would set the remaining horses free again. Apparently, in one instance, some horses were left trapped in the corral on the point, with no water. They died of thirst within view of the Colorado River, some 2,000 feet below. 

Dead Horse Point is now a State Park, and is very popular.

Grand View Point, Canyonlands Nat'l Park Grand View Point, the end of the road in the Island in the Sky unit of Canyonlands National Park. This park has two units on opposite sides of the Colorado River. Island in the Sky is the northern unit, and is the most developed and most visited. The Needles District, is accessed from roads far to the south and is far more remote. To see the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers, one must enter through the Needles District.

Chicken Corners from Canyonlands Nat'l Park  This is another photo looking toward Chicken Corners

Distant Jeep at Fossil Point, Canyonlands Nat'l Park  Looking back to Fossil Point, where we had been standing in the first photos at the top of this page. The Jeep in the photo looks pretty small! Thelma and Louise's convertible was launched from that point.

It was our intention to follow the White Rim Trail for some distance into the park, then turn around and come back to take the Shafer Trail up to the top of the mesa. Due to maintenance work taking place along the White Rim Trail, it was closed, so we headed up the switchbacks.

Looking down on the Shafer Trail, Canyonlands Nat'l Park  Looking down on another Jeep coming up the Shafer Trail behind us.

The Shafer Trail was originally built so that dump trucks could haul uranium ore out of the valley. Uranium was mined in this area at a feverish pace back in the 1940's and 50's. The problem was getting out to the mills for processing, and the Shafer Trail was the result. Needless to say, it is an easy road for Jeeps or full sized pickups.

Panoramic view of the Shafer and White Rim Trails, Canyonlands Nat'l Park  A panoramic view of a part of the Shafer Trail and the White Rim Trail in the distance.

Jim overlooking Shafer and White Rim trails, Canyonlands Nat'l Park  Here's Dad with the Shafer Trail, White Rim Trail, and the La Sal Mountains in the background.

Two dump trucks on the Shafer Trail, Canyonlands Nat'l Park  I've taken trucks into some pretty odd places, but I've never gone anyplace like this. The National Park staff has to get materials and equipment down onto the trails somehow, and this is how it is done. Seeing those trucks on the trail makes Jeeping it seem trivial!

Hidden spotted lizard, Canyonlands Nat'l Park  Spotted lizards were everywhere. There is one in this photo, too. See if you can find him.

Shafer Trail switchbacks, Canyonlands Nat'l Park  A person must drive for quite some distance along the rim of the canyon before making the final ascent to the top of the mesa. Here we are looking back at the switchbacks of the Shafer Trail.

After making it to the very top, we exited Canyonlands National Park and headed for a trail called Long's Canyon, which is just off the road to Dead Horse Point State Park. Along the way, we made a turn onto an unnamed road and followed it for a mile or so, finding a spot with a nice view where we stopped to have our lunch.

Jim with our rental Jeep  Here is Dad with our rental Jeep, with Arches National Park and the La Sal Mountains in the distance.

Long's Canyon is a popular shortcut back to Moab for some visitors to Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point. We made use of it also, but chose to make a video of part of the canyon.


Balanced Rock, Long's Canyon, near Moab Utah  We found this balanced rock near the end of Long's Canyon.

From here we headed into town, washed and gassed up the Jeep prior to returning it. We were quite happy with our rental, and I will definitely return there at some point in the future. Afterall, I've still got to go back and finish Top of the World!

After an early supper, we relaxed and enjoyed some free time before turning in for the night.

Spotted lizard revealed  Remember our spotted lizard??  Did you find him??  Have a look at this photo to see where he is.

We were up and having breakfast by 6:00 AM the next morning, and were entering Arches National Park by 6:30. We made a bee line for the end of the road, which is the trailhead for Landscape Arch, Double O Arch, Black Arch, and Dark Angel. We expected to be on the trail most of the morning, so we packed along plenty of water and snacks.

Landscape Arch, Arches Nat'l Park  Landscape Arch, the longest arch in the world, at 290 feet. Since 1991 three slabs of stone have fallen from the thinnest part of the arch and the National Park Service closed the trail beneath as a result. All arches will eventually fall due to natural erosion, but no one knows how long Landscape Arch will stand before succumbing to gravity.

Trail to Double O Arch, Arches Nat'l Park  To continue on the trail to Double O Arch, we had to scale the slick rock fin shown in the middle of the photo. There were several places along the two mile trail where we had to do some minor climbing, but the one shown here was the hardest one.

Jim hiking on slickrock, Arches Nat'l Park  Dad on a slick rock fin. Arches National Park has long been one of his favorite places in the west, and he really enjoyed the opportunity to visit here again. Slick rock gets its name from being very smooth.

Large boulder, balanced on three little rocks, Arches Nat'l Park  We stumbled on this boulder along the trail. It rests on what appear to be three small rocks. In reality, the boulder, the small rocks, and the main rock surface are all one piece!

Black Arch, Arches Nat'l Park  Black Arch. Even though this arch is not complete, it is considered to be an arch.

Double O Arch, Arches Nat'l Park  Double O Arch.

Jim with Dark Angel in the background, Arches Nat'l Park  Dad posed in front of one of his favorite features in Arches N.P., Dark Angel, which is a spire that stands straight up and is covered in desert varnish, making it look dark.

Dark Angel, through lower Double O Arch, Arches Nat'l Park  Dark Angel, as seen through the lower half of Double O Arch.

The hike out to Double O Arch is about 4 1/2 miles round trip, and as mentioned, involves some climbing here and there, making for a good workout. Summer temperatures start rising quickly after mid morning, and our plan was to be leaving here by noon, before it got too hot. Luck was with us, as the temperatures were only in the upper 80's by the time we were leaving, and with the low humidity, was still rather comfortable, but one could tell that it was starting to get warm.

Delicate Arch three miles distant, Arches Nat'l Park  On the way out of the park, I snagged this photo of Delicate Arch, which is probably the most famous arch in the world. It is taken from a rather unique angle and from a distance of about three miles. This is a free hand shot, no tripod was used.

Telephoto shot of Delicate Arch from three miles away. Arches Nat'l Park.  One more free hand shot of Delicate Arch from 3 miles away. Yes, those little things are people. I will admit that I did lean against Dad's van to get a steady photo, but it was still hand held.


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