Last night, the wind woke me up as the cold front moved through the area. It was windy for a few minutes, then it was gone. This morning, I woke up to an unusual sound–raindrops on the roof. When we got up, it was overcast with a temp. of 75 degrees. That was a nice switch! We took care of some business on the phone and left at 11:00. After getting gas in town, we took highway 191 north to 313 where we turned off to go to Canyonlands National Park.
We had driven this road once this week already on our way to Dead Horse Point State Park, but it was still awesome to see. We have visited Canyonlands before a couple of years ago, but we had not seen all of the park. As we drove to Canyonlands,, it started to rain hard and it rained steadily as we drove towards the park entrance. (It’s hard to take the picture out the front windshield between the swipes of the wipers, but I did it.)
As we waited our turn at the park entrance, the rain started to let up. There was a short line to get in.
We entered the Island in the Sky district, one of three districts in the park. It is the largest and most accessible area. We didn’t need to stop at the Visitor Center, but continued on to the first viewpoint–Shafer Canyon Overlook.
From this viewpoint, we looked into Shafer Canyon and saw the Shafer Trail Road below us. The Shafer Trail Road is a very difficult 4WD road that has many switchbacks and shelf roads that takes you deep into the canyon. Not something a sane person would do. We have seen people on bikes, motorcycles, and OHV’s traveling down those roads. They warn you that if you break down, it will cost you at least $1000 to be towed out. You’d really have to WANT to do it, although I’m sure it is awesome to stand down there and look deeper into the canyons below.
Looking in every direction, there was so much to see. The temp here on top of the bluff was 61 degrees, so we threw on a fleece.
We got to the intersection of the park road, so we took a side trip to Green River Overlook. The Green River and the Colorado River run parallel and deep in the canyon. They eventually intersect near the south end of the park.
Aztec Butte was very beautiful with its colors and a ring of green plants at its top. We could see Aztec Butte from many places in the park. It was very recognizable.
The next stop on the scenic drive was Halmon Springs Canyon Overlook.
We drove to the end of this road where Whale Rock was clearly visible from a distance. The sky had cleared up and the temp had risen to 69 degrees. It was time to take off the fleece. We had done the climb up to the top of Whale Rock before, so we passed on the hike this time. We could see others at the top of Whale Rock.
At the end of the road, was Upheaval Dome, which scientists speculate was caused by a meteorite. We didn’t take the hike, but read about the Dome.
We ate our lunch here while we enjoyed the view. We were at an elevation of 6,240 ft. and by now the sun was out, blue skies appeared, and the temp was up to 70. From there we went south on the park road to Candlestick Tower Overlook. You can see how it got its name.
Next on the list of places to see was Buck Canyon Overlook which gives you an amazing view of the entire canyon.
Near the end of the park road is Orange Cliffs Overlook. This is aptly named for the cliffs that glow orange with the sunlight shining on them.
Our last stop on this section of road was Grand View Point Overlook and GRAND it was.
The longer we stood on any of these overlooks, the more details and interesting features we could see.
After soaking in all the beauty, we headed back towards the entrance to the park with one last stop at Mesa Arch.
It was a busy place with lots of people around. We hiked the 1/2 mile loop to the arch, but it was so crowded with people that we didn’t walk all the way down to the arch. We had been here before so I settled with taking this picture from a few hundred feet away.
The scenery all around was so colorful and distinctly different.
We stopped to use the restroom before starting our drive back. This isn’t the first time we’ve encountered these types of signs and written notices. The pictures are self-explanatory. There was even one restroom we used that told you not to go on the floor. Really? These signs must be for the foreign travelers.
We passed through The Neck of the park where a narrow piece of land connects two different plateaus.
From there, we drove back to the campground.
It turned out to be a wonderful day after all, even with such a rainy start. The sun was shining, but the clouds were still hanging over the mountains.
We got back around 3:00 and the temp was now 78. This was the nicest (coolest) afternoon we’ve had since we’ve been here where we’ve been able to sit outside comfortably. We’ve had cocktails and enjoyed the afternoon outside with Auggie.
We had a later dinner because it was so pleasant to sit outside. Auggie and I took a walk after dinner. There were a few new campers today, but the park was still not full. Some dark clouds blew in over the bluffs as darkness fell and it looked like we might get some more rain tonight. Before calling it a night, I went outside to check on the stars. They skies had cleared and there were so many stars to see including the Milky Way. The skies are very dark here, so that helps with the viewing. The Big Dipper was sitting low in the sky. After checking my sky chart, I learned that the two brightest stars in the sky were the planets, Jupiter and Saturn. Awesome! I am loving the dark skies! (I suppose many of you are thinking, doesn’t she ever get tired of looking at all those rocks? The answer is obviously “no”! Our country is so beautiful and I can’t get enough of it. Sorry!)