On your way south to Moab on highway 191 you can find LOTS of boondocking spots on Willow Springs Road (left turn if heading south). At the beginning the sites are more rocky but if you go down only ¼ a mile the sites are more level. This road is popular for ATV’s and campers in general so don’t expect to be all desolate in the desert here. Also, the gentle hum of cars on the highway can be heard, but the scenery offsets that I believe. In some sites you can have a 360 degree view of the surrounding canyons and sandstone rock formations that change colors throughout the day. Among the usual warm colors of the rocks you can also see tints of green and blue in the layers. It is absoultely beautiful. We are able to get Verizon and AT&T voice/data service here. There is so much to do but on the first day we had to do our bimonthly laundry trip, pick up mail, and work on this lovely blog of course. The visitor center in Moab has decent free wifi.
We visited Arches National Park on our first day of exploring. After passing the visitor center, it feels as if you are entering the ruins of an ancient civilization. Vertical walls of red sandstone jut up like pieces of demolished buildings. Like all the other popular national parks (Yellowstone, Grand Canyon) there are lots of people, all sizes, ages and ethnicity. Even on the longer, more strenuous hikes we couldn’t escape the crowds. The first hike we did takes you to the base of the Delicate Arch, you have probably seen a picture of this arch as it is an iconic symbol of Utah, and National Parks in general. It was a hot and steep 3 mile hike. I was surprised to see so many people, young and old, that roughed the trail instead of settling on one of the easier and shorter viewpoint hikes. To get to the base of arch you have to walk around a caving sandstone hole. It is at a slant so I imagine it can be dangerous after a good rain. I will never forget the moment of standing under that arch. We also hiked to Devil’s Garden where there are a lot of other arches. Another famous one is the Landscape arch. It is a long, slender stretch of an arch at 306 feet. People are no longer allowed to stand under this arch as it is slowly starting to erode, go see it while you can!
It took about 45 min to drive from our camping spot to get to Canyonlands National Park. We hiked Murphy’s Trail. A portion of the trail was very strenuous as it descends 1400 feet within one mile. There is a drop off on one side of the trail as you descend the vertical cliff. The entire trail in and out is 10.8 miles. After descending the cliff, you walk through semi-desert terrain which eventually gives you a great view of white rimmed canyons.
On Saturday we took Marilyn on a short hike since she was cooped up in the RV the past two days. It’s called the Negro Bill Trail and it takes you along a stream to a large natural bridge. When we reached the natural bridge, we got to watch some rock climbers repelling down the wall. Tim and I took advantage of the water and went swimming in a deep part of the stream. I laid on one of the large boulders and let the cool water wash down my hair and body.
Our last day here we went kayaking in our inflatable kayak on a calm section of the Colorado River. We put in at mile marker ten on the way to Potash dock off road 278 and took out at Potash dock. This equaled a 11.5 mile trip. We attempted to arrange for a shuttle but it was damn near impossible. One company I talked to (Porcupine) wanted $100 for a 15 mile shuttle (sans gear by the way – he said they don’t shuttle gear…wtf??) So we said eff it, just going to ride the bikes back to the truck like usual. After kayaking we attempted to ride the bikes but then Tim’s pedal fell off. We didn’t have tools so I asked a group of people from South Dakota if they could give us a ride back to our truck and they kindly obliged. What a great world we live in.
Before we left, we showered and dump and loaded at Slickrock Campground ($5 per shower and $5 to dump and load). The showers ran out of hot water pretty quick…so I would go somewhere else next time. Also, the dump station is at a lean, those of you who understand this process will get that this is not a good thing.
Our week trip here was AWESOME! There is so much to do here – hiking, kayaking, white water rafting, mountain climbing, mountain biking, canyoneering, and ATV trails. I can’t wait to see more of this Painted Desert. Next stop, home of the hoo-de-hoooooossss, Bryce Canyon. 🙂