October 19, 2017 Moab, UT, Canyonlands

We woke to a partly cloudy day–the first we’ve had in a month. I guess I forgot to knock on wood when I mentioned it the other day. This beautiful red tree was in the next campsite and I had to snap a picture of it. 

This off-road vehicle was parked in the campsite near ours. Someone converted this truck to a 4-wheel drive vehicle. It was quite unusual.

We got ready and left for Canyonlands today at 10:00. Canyonlands encompasses deeply eroded canyons interspersed with sheer-sided mesas and a variety of spires, arches, and unusual rock formations. The Green and Colorado Rivers join in the park. We wanted to visit the Island in the Sky district which is the closest to Moab–only about 35 miles away. Island in the Sky is a huge, level mesa. Canyonlands is divided into 3 districts, but you cannot access one from the other. They each have their own access points. We packed a picnic lunch and hoped to see a little sun today along the way. Traffic in town was crazy this morning. Lots of 4-wheelers were on the move through Moab–the 4-wheeling capital of the country.

The school kids have off for a long weekend starting today for their fall break and we saw tons of families with kids all over. We made a quick stop at Arches so I could get a picture of the entrance sign that I missed the other day. In doing so, we saw the line to get into the park was LONG! 

We picked up Highway 191 north out of town which follows the Moab Canyon for 9 miles.


At the junction of 191 and 313 there was The Home of Tracks Museum and Dinosaur Trail. The dinosaur statues throughout the grounds were interesting. I’m sure it got people’s attention.


From there, we turned on Highway 313 to Canyonlands National Park.

Our first rock formation was the Big Mesa. 

The road winds through the canyon and climbs into the high desert mesa called the Big Flat for 26 miles to the Visitor’s Center. 

We got out there to walk to the Shafer Canyon Overlook. 

What a fantastic view we had of Shafer Road.

Shafer Road descends into the canyon in a series of switchbacks for 29 miles of narrow dirt road. Get a load of this road!!

Mountain bikes, 4 wheelers, dirt bikes, and 2 vehicles were winding their way down to the 100 mile White Rim Road.

The drive is not for the faint of heart. Even watching from above gave us a fright. The road hugs the walls of Shafer Canyon and drops 1400 ft. (We read in the local paper today that a woman died falling off of that road on her off-road motorcycle a week ago. She fell off the cliff and down 150 ft. to her death. ) Yikes! We watched for the longest time before we walked farther out on the mesa to the overlook.

These hoodoos showed us the way.

The view was amazing!

We walked back to the truck and continued further into the park to Mesa Arch. It was a 1/2 mile walk to the Arch itself.

The view through the arch to the canyon below and the La Sal Mountains in the distance was breathtaking.

Lots of people gathered there and were pretty brave in posing for pictures on the cliff edge.

I got close to the edge, but not too close.

Our next stop was Buck Canyon Overlook. I know you’re probably thinking “how many rocks and canyons can they see?” Well, everyone is SO different. It never gets old to me.

We moved on to White Rim Outlook and you can see where it gets its name. From the outlook we got our first glimpse of the Colorado River.

The end of the road brought us to Grand View Point Overlook at an elevation of 6080 ft. What a grand panoramic view it was! The sun even peeked out now and then.

We stopped to eat lunch there before turning around and heading back the way we came. We had one more section to explore as the road split at Mesa Arch and we took the left fork. We stopped first at Aztec Butte.

Then on to Whale Rock–a sandstone dome. We could see people walking up there, but it was a hike with steep drop-offs. 

It was getting later in the day, so we did not go all the way to the end of the road and Upheaval Dome, but we did check out Green River Lookout on the way out. We had a great view of the canyons and the Green River from there.

Of course, the ride back always brings different views from the in-going direction and we weren’t disappointed. 

This area was called The Neck because of how narrow it was.

We stopped at the Visitor’s Center one last time before leaving to take a restroom break and Bob found this in the outdoor restroom. Must be for the Europeans.

The ride back through the canyon to Moab was beautiful with the sun getting lower in the sky. 

This was the view behind our campground. As the sun sets later in the day it lights up those mountains.

We got back to the campground around 3:00. I decided to do a load of wash to lessen the load when I get home. I sat in the camper’s lounge at the office while my wash was getting done and watched a few videos of some of the jeep trips people took in the area. If we had thought about it sooner, we could have taken a jeep trip ourselves. That would have been fun! Well, that’s another thing to do for another trip. Bob spend some outside time with Auggie until it started getting cooler, then we all moved inside and had dinner. We ran into a husband and wife who were driving this vehicle.

It was an ultimate long-term, off-road vehicle. You go out and stay out…for a long time. We spoke to them at one of the lookouts we saw them at and they told us they were from Hamburg, Germany. They shipped their vehicle from Hamburg to Halifax, Nova Scotia. They had been out for 18 months already, spending 11 months in Canada and now 7 months in the US until December. Then they were going to Mexico and finally to South America. What an adventure that is!! Tomorrow we move on to Mesa Verde, Colorado for two days. We’ll be saying goodbye to the mountains soon.


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