Canyonlands: The Colorado River’s Second Work of Art

The Big Trip Out West

Though I haven’t even been home for more than a month, I’ve been pretty busy. Almost immediately after coming home, my family and Julia set out on a great adventure west. We wanted to see some of our nation’s most beautiful parks during the Centennial of the National Parks Service. Our goal was to visit the Badlands, the Corn Palace, Custer’s State Park, Mt. Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Craters of the Moon, Crater Lake, Redwoods State Park, Yosemite, King’s Canyon, Sequoias, Moab, Canyonlands, Arches, the world’s best cinnamon roll at Glen Haven, and Trail Ridge Road. But even the perfect plan can have its bumps and amazing surprises. Come along on the journey, as I’ll be posting each day (and roughly each park) throughout the next few months.

Waking Up in the House of Dreams

What an awesome night’s sleep! This morning, we were lucky enough to wake up in Cali Cochitta, the House of Dreams in Moab, Utah. Amazing service, amazingly comfortable beds, and the most amazing B&B breakfast ever. (And the people here are so accommodating to vegetarians and other dietary needs. Just have a little chat with them about it.)

Cali Cochitta, Moab, Utah

In the warmer months, they usually have breakfast outside on the large table, but we ate inside this morning. The spread included some meat things, a delicious green chili egg bake, and melt-in-your mouth biscuits/scones that I am still drooling over five months later. Seriously, can I just have that recipe already?

 

Seeing Part of the Northern Portion of Canyonlands

Our big destination today was the maze of Canyonlands. We arrived at Newspaper Rock first and enjoyed the protected petroglyphs here. I was shocked to see that some people had defaced some of these ruins, but we enjoyed deciphering what remained. Some people think that this might have been a yearly stop on a hunting trip and that the petroglyphs continued to pile up over time.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

One trail took us to Big Spring Canyon Overlook, where we scaled some rock faces. The trails here are pretty unmarked, so you just kind of meander across the natural trails in the rock paths. Try very hard not to step on the fragile plants that are growing in the cracks! Honestly, do this everywhere.

At the back of Big Spring Canyon Overlook, you can obviously seedown into the remnants of a…big spring. A valley has formed in the rocks here where the spring used to flow. In other areas of Canyonlands, the Colorado and Green Rivers still flow, carving impressive spires and mazes as they go.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Our next stop was Pothole Path, where rainwater has carved out hundreds of small ephemeral pools in the relatively flat rock face. To this day, the rain that fills these potholes is vital for the survival of important shrimp, snail, and frog species. They are able to survive the wide range of temperatures and moisture as these ponds evaporate and disappear.

Taking in the Southern Canyonlands Lookouts at Sunset

After a quick stop back at the Elephant’s Campground (long drive, but worth it for a cool camping spot), we drove back through Moab. We were on our way to Dead Horse Point, where Julia had been on a previous trip to the United States. In the past, this area was a trap for wild horses. A bottleneck shape in the cliff top allowed the horses to enter, and a small gate was erected to keep them inside. The “dead” in “Dead Horse” heralds from an old folk legend in which the horses were left without water and perished. Regardless, it was a beautiful view.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

We did encounter a terrible traveling family here, though. Their children repeatedly threw rocks over the edge of the cliff while the parents did nothing to stop them. Please, friends, don’t do this. While it may seem fun, it can seriously injure hikers below or lead to rockslides in some parks. Throwing rocks is something you do in backyard ponds, not in National Parks. We just hope that those kids join an organization like the Boy Scouts where they can learn more about caring for our Earth and our fellow human beings.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

By sunset, we settled at the Grand View Point Overlook in Canyonlands National Park. Finally, it was time for some peace and quiet. The fading sunlight brought out hidden colors in the rock. We even shrimp-scooted our way to the edge again.

Another long night of driving, all the way to Georgetown, Colorado.

 

Be kind to one another,

Natalie

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