July 19, 2020 Moab, UT Willow Springs 4-WD (Day 3)

Skies were a little cloudy this morning, but hopefully that will help to keep down the heat. The high is supposed to be 101 again today, but not until about 4 or 5:00. Bob made Sunday breakfast for us and we got ready for our 4-WD trip today on Willow Springs Road. In using our guidebook for trails near Moab, Bob found this trail that is a 7.9 miles, easy drive with small rock ledges and soft sand which ends in Arches National Park. We left at 10:00 and passed Lyons Park where the bike path runs along the Colorado River and you can use the bridge to cross the river from the parking lot.

We stopped at Arches National Park entrance station to get a park map. There was no line to get in.

The entrance to Willow Springs Road on Highway 313 is 12 miles from Moab off of Highway 191. The entrance starts on a wide dirt road.

Along the road, there were designated camping spots in the first 1/2 mile.

We “aired down” our tires to improve traction in the soft sand and soften the ride over the rocks.

Three and a half miles into the drive we saw the sign for dinosaur tracks.

We stopped at the Willow Springs Dinosaur Tracksite.

In this area, the dinosaur tracks were made over 165 million years ago. When a shallow sea covering the Moab area receded, the tracks were covered by mud and sand which turned to stone. The tracks were made by round-toed Sauropods and 3-toed dinosaurs that you can see here.

The view from the dinosaur track location was awesome.

From there, there were sections of man-made grooved slickrock created to improve traction over the smooth rocks.

From there, we entered Arches National Park.

The road crossed rocky washes that were dry, sandy areas, and grooved slickrocks.

That’s the road.

At times, we climbed up rocks putting us at a 12 degrees pitch.

We climbed some steep sections where you couldn’t see the top until you got there.

At other times, we had to choose a line through and over the rocks, putting us at a 20 degree roll.

We went through a narrow trench section. The trench was so deep and narrow that you couldn’t see us when we were in it. I couldn’t see over the top of the trench.

Two or three times we encountered vehicles going in the other direction. Whoever had the space to pull over, did.

The local bike clubs and 4×4 groups maintain the trail and lay these rocks to line the roads to keep vehicles off of the fragile ecosystem.

We came to the intersection where Tower Arch Road started. Tower Arch Road is rated a difficult trail, but the end of the trail where we would enter, was not as bad. We decided to give it a try.

We took Tower Arch Road 2 miles to the Eye of the Whale.

The road was much rougher and technically more difficult, but it was fun and worth the drive to see these rock formations.

The views from there were terrific.

We turned around at the Eye of the Whale and returned to where the Willow Springs Road connected to the park road at Balanced Rock.

We drove the short distance to Balanced Rock.

We continued on the road to the Windows Section of the park.

We came upon Pothole Arch.

North Window and South Window (You can see people standing under the arches.)

Turret Arch and Double Arch

We went north on the scenic Park Road seeing more arches and rock monoliths along the way.

Next on the drive was the Fiery Furnace Overlook.

The fins and canyons create an environment of sheer wall, cliff edges, and narrow passageways. The hike into Fiery Furnace was closed so we had to settle for the view from the overlook.

Bob took these next 3 pictures. See if you can imagine these: Easter Island statues having a conversation. The one on the right is facing the other two.

Monkey’s head in the middle looking to the right.

Baby in a papoose on the right looking at the pig on the left.

I thought this one looked like someone’s hand giving the “ok” sign with their fingers.

There were arches around every bend.

We drove all the way to the end of the road at Devil’s Garden and then headed down. The road takes you along the Great Wall, the Rock Pinnacles, and Petrified Dunes.

The Courthouse Tower is a huge rock structure.

We got a glimpse of the La Sal Mountains in the distance.

By now the temp rose to 100 degrees.

We stopped to “air up” and use the restroom at the overlook. We took the winding road down and out to the entrance of the park.

Bob thought this rock could be the next one to fall down with a little rain.

We stopped at the entrance for a picture before heading back to the campground.

We got back around 2:30 to relax with a cocktail outside with Auggie. We made spaghetti for dinner, took our walk, and watched a movie while waiting for the sun to set.

What a great 4-WD trip we had today! Touring Arches National Park was the cherry on the top of a terrific day!

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