Thursday, 11 June 2015

Utah and back to Canada

We left Gooseneck State Park to head to the first of the National Parks in Utah. We really wanted to see these.  We were late leaving Ontario last November so we could extend our time in the US until mid-May and warmer weather. We made one stop at the Visitors’ Center in the pretty town of Blanding on our way to Moab, and a second stop at Wilson Arch just south of Moab.
We had booked a week at Moab Rim Campark campground. We had full hookups, and a large, level pull-through site, 
A lovely site- facing the main highway!
but we were separated from the highway only by a road and a short hill. John wasn’t feeling well, so once we unhitched, he slept for most of the day. However, all was well the next day, so we drove up to Arches National Park for an orientation drive-through. First we stopped at the Visitors’ Centre
On the outside wall...
This is the only bighorn sheep we saw!
The view from the window to the Park-the road winds up that cliff!
to get as much information as we could, and suggestions for sight-seeing. This is another extremely well done Centre, with explanations of the geology and history of the area, and a number of hands-on exhibits for kids too. The first part of the drive into the Park is a steep climb on switchbacks.
As you drive up you look across the highway to the Moab Fault
 Once again we were struck by the wondrous colours of the cliffs and monolithic formations. There are over two thousand natural sandstone arches. The drive is an 18-mile winding road with fins, faults, pinnacles and arches.
The Courthouse gives a sense of the immense size of the formations

We drove past the Three Gossips, Sheep Rock , the Tower of Babel
From Left to right: The Three Gossips, Sheep Rock, Tower of Babel
 and Balanced Rock.
Balanced Rock
One area is a mounded buff coloured sandstone called the Petrified Dunes.
Petrified Dunes
Another is a grouping of formations called Garden of Eden.
Garden of Eden
Garden of Eden
It is estimated that in the past 10 million years, erosion has stripped away more than 5,000 vertical feet of rock.
Near the North East of the drive there is a huge salt valley,
Salt Valley
then climbing once more to fins and arches. We didn't walk up  to many arches, mainly just drove and looked at the formations.
This section is below Delicate Arch
Formation of Arches
However, we did climb to the outlook across the Gorge from Delicate Arch and to Skyline  Arch.
Delicate Arch from a distance
Skyline Arch

Windows Arch [You can see another window, hidden behind this one- if you climb up!]
On our way back, along the main street of Moab, we saw people lined up, grouped on sidewalks and sitting in lawn chairs. We stopped to ask what was happening, only to learn that this weekend was to be an “April Action Car Show” in the Park on Saturday. Friday night was the “Rod Run”. This meant that the old cars and trucks drove up and down Main St. tooting their horns and waving and calling to passers-by, [along with any regular traffic] and people on the side lines waved, cheered and clapped! There were also all kinds of ATV’s joining in.

Here is one of the "Off-Road" vehicles, but in Moab, they travel on the road!
In fact at the RV Park, I think we were the only site that didn’t have an ATV, a dirt bike or a jeep! At least we have a truck! Saturday dawned, after a full night of rain, cloudy and cool. We took a late morning walk through the car show.
John found a couple of his all-time favourites- a DeLorean
and a 1966 yellow Corvette.
Teenage John's Dream Car!- still a favourite.

We drove up to Dead Horse Point State Park to check it out. This State Park is on a secondary highway, off the main N/S highway. We got out to look at two beautiful buttes, named after two Ironclads, ships used in the Civil War.
Merrimac [L] and Monitor [R]- Civil War ships
 However a thunder and hail storm came through,
Hail by Indian Rice Grass

so we pulled off and waited it out. We drove along a high plateau and when the rain stopped, we got out at the Colorado Plateau Outlook
Overlooking the plateau and the La Sal Mountains
and walked over the pot-holed rock, like mini tide pools.

Pot holes filled by rainwater
The rain did not let up, so we drove back to the trailer. Luckily the hail missed Moab, so Run-Around-Sue was only wet.

The next day we decided to do something different. There is a driving loop over the La Sal Mountains which was beautiful. We drove along the Colorado River
Looking back along the road- Arches NP to the right
Driving beside the bike trail along the muddy Colorado River
to the lush green Castle Valley.
High cliffs to the West
Monument Valley to the East, La Sal Mountains to the North

Closer to the Mountain

It is nestled beneath the mountains at the bottom of a high cliff. As you climb the mountain and look back, the valley is beautiful, surrounded by the red cliffs and the red rocks of Arches.
The road through Castle Valley

In front there are the snow-capped mountains.  We wound our way right up to the snow-line from lush green to desert,

Further up the Mountain...

Around the Mountain

The valley between


to fir and cliffs, and back down into the second valley

The mountain plateau at the top


Coming down...

on the other side. 
The other side of the mountain - we just drove up and around those  mountains
The road takes us back to the main highway, just south of the RV park.

Our next drive was along Potash Road,
Potash Road , west off the highway
beside the Colorado River, to see the petroglyphs and pictographs.

We only saw Petroglyphs

Trapezoidal Anthropomorphs

To me, this looks like hunting in a forest ???
On the way, we saw people way up on the rocks- the rock climbers were out and testing their skills.
a little too high for me...
Cycling, both road and mountain biking, rock climbing, and off-roading in ATV’s or jeeps are popular pursuits in and around Moab. There are many miles of trails. It is common in Canyonlands or Arches to see groups of cyclists on the roads.
We drove to see the Canyonlands National Park. The Canyonlands are divided into four sections by the Green and Colorado Rivers –Island in the Sky to the north, The Needles to the south, The Maze to the west, and the Green and Colorado Rivers themselves. We drove to Island in the Sky, a little further north of Arches and the Colorado River, and west on Utah Hwy 313, off the main US highway 191. It is spectacular too! I am running out of adjectives, so I will keep repeating… You climb a winding road through the canyon to 5800 ft.,
Looking back at the road up!
then meander along the mesa of pasture and meadows.
Mormon tea and Indian Rice Grass, and free-roaming cattle
are everywhere. At the end of the 30km drive from Hwy 191, we reached Grand View Point. The 34-mile scenic trip tours the whole mesa top. Wondrous canyons await you at every ‘lookover’-
One of the "lookovers"- the blue dot is John!
rounded in some places, yellows, greens and reds, deep gorges where the Colorado and Green Rivers cut deep into the plains below the cliffs. You can get right down to the Valley floor, but I won't be going any time soon- like never....
From opposite the Visitors' Centre
The view of the road down from opposite the Visitors' Centre-what I saw

Then John went for his bike ride and looked further down...
There was a beautiful Mesa Arch, through which we could see the La Sal Mountains.

The trail to Mesa Arch

Through the Arch

Mesa Arch- a 500ft drop on the other side!
At the furthest part of the road is Green River Overlook.
and just around the corner, another magnificent view.
The next day was special- we were up at 6 to go to Arches to see Landscape Arch before the crowds. We were on the trail by 8!
The beginning of the trail
There were only about half a dozen cars and just a few people around. The walk in is a fairly easy hike on a wide gravelled trail. This arch is special as it is one of the longest natural spans in the world, and part of it fell off in 1991, so you can no longer walk right up to and under the arch, but have to stay about 100 yards away down the hill.
There is a further hike, The Devil’s Garden to go beyond it to several other arches, but the information said it was strenuous, and narrow cliffs in parts- not for me, but John carried on.
I started back, then noticed a trail marked ‘Primitive’, but leading around a cliff on a gentle grade, so decided to see what was there.
It was beautiful-primitive only because it had not been widened and gravelled. I walked for over an hour, around behind Landscape Arch,
Landscape Arch from the back
to Fin Canyon,

and did not come to many scrambling parts, and no narrow cliffs, but decided that I had better head back as John had no idea where I was. On the way back, there were two other arches just off the main path.

Pine Tree Arch

Tunnel Arch

John wanted to get the sunset picture from Delicate Arch. We had hiked to the Upper Viewpoint, but there was a hike which brought you over a 200 yard fin to the Arch itself. It was not a hike I could do, but off he went, and came back with fabulous pictures.

The last 200 yards

The iconic Delicate Arch- the two dots are people

The first 200 yards back...
 We drove out to Dead Horse Point State Park. The story goes that in the 1800’s cowboys found wild mustangs running free in the area and devised many ways to capture them. Dead Horse Point was the perfect place to trap them, by herding a band of horses out onto the point, and constructing a simple fence of juniper bushes across the ‘neck’ of the point making a natural corral. The cowboys then could separate the healthy, marketable mustangs from the “broomtails”. Legend tells of one group of “broomtails” which were forgotten and left, where they died of thirst, within sight of the Colorado River 2000 ft. below. We drove out to the Visitors' Centre and to the Point and looked in awe at the plains and canyon below.

From the Point
Several days later, we hiked the Rim Trail out to the point,
An interesting, easy hike
Claret Cup Hedgehog cactus in bloom
The trail across the canyon floor
so got a different perspective on the canyon. We had a clear view of the evaporation ponds.  Water is pumped down from the Colorado River through the potash deposit. The dissolved potash slurry is then pumped to the surface and evaporated leaving the potash to be harvested.

Dead Horse Canyon

The next day we left the RV Campground and moved to Horsethief Campground out by Dead Horse Point State Park. It is absolutely beautiful- no services, but large sites, well separated from each other with incredible views of the plains.
Run Around Sue getting lots of Amps from the Sun

View from the back of the trailer
John got out his new bike and road through Canyonlands National Park.
The road below... [click to read this]
One more view of cyclists on the switchbacks!
I had a few hours to do my nails, work on the blog pictures and read! He was able to go partway into the canyons and get s different view of the canyons and trails. When he came back we walked over to another Airstream around the corner and enjoyed the dog Cohi, interesting travel conversation and wine. They were leaving the next day, so came over to say good-bye before they left.
We decided to extend for another night. We drove to Arches to see Windows and Double Arch. The parking was jammed, so we drove towards Windows and walked up the short trail to the beautiful Double Arch.
I have decided that this is my favourite!

We packed up early the next morning and headed for Capitol Reef National Park.  First we had to find a place to dump and to fill the water tank, as Capitol Reef’s campground had no services either.  This was easier said than done- we were told there was a dump station at the campground on 191, but no, they took it out. We went into to the other side of Moab to a station we knew, but they were having their pavement sprayed and we couldn’t get to the dump station. We finally found the 3rd and last one, but had to wait for a class A to finish draining and flushing his system and then figure out how to get out! We were finally on the road over two hours after we left the campsite.

The road to Capitol Reef winds up to the main highway, through a variety of landscapes from prairie, desert, Grey Mountains,
Grey Mountains- with Desert Mallow wildflowers- quite different
from the reds and rusts we had been seeing

Winding highway
through canyons and long straight stretches grassy fields then sandy dunes.
One group of formations by the road, in the middle of flat desert
Back into desert
Nearing Capitol Reef, we begin to see some colour
Into the Park, we passed huge cliffs and canyon walls with dark grey dunes and fins
Greys with some greens and yellows
and rows of dark grey fins
mud-like rock from a lava flow
in front, as the cliff walls rose, there was dark grey part way up the canyon walls. We drove to the Campsite in the Fruita Area about 3:30, to find 2 RV’s in front of us, waiting for the Camp Host. When he returned, there were two camp sites left, so we went to a BLM site just outside the park for the night - the price we paid for the delay of the morning.
A beautiful BLM site
We returned the next morning and found a beautiful site with sunshine for our solar panel.
We woke up each  morning to the sight of a beautiful red cliff
This is a beautiful, well-maintained campground, with a pair of the most friendly hosts we have met since Mystic Springs last year. We opened our door to the gorgeous red wall of the canyon.

Looking down the slickrock divide - in the valley between the buckle sides
The rock layers revealed
Capitol Reef National Park is a giant buckle or wrinkle in the earth’s crust, called the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic monocline, stretching 100 miles across south-central Utah. It was created 65 million years ago by the same forces which later created the Colorado Plateau.
We were concerned because we had noticed that the step was tearing away from the frame of the Airstream, so we went into Torrey [where we could get internet and cell service] to call Can-Am for some advice. There is an Airstream dealer in Boise Utah- 249 miles out of the way- or in Penticton, BC, if it is a warranty issue, but a RV dealer and welder in Calgary if we just need a welding job. While we waited for a call back, we wandered around Torrey.

Torrey Log Church and Schoolhouse

Back at the campground,
Driving east back to Capitol Reef NP
we took a short walk along the Freemont River

trail before it began to rain. The next morning, we decided to walk the 2km trail to the Capitol Reef National Park Visitors’ Center. It is a pretty walk. First we went into the small museum and kitchen in the Gifford House, the home of one of the first Mormon families, which sold the most delicious small pies and cinnamon buns.
Gifford House

The path crosses by the Forge
The first tractor
across from a lovely day use park, where we were greeted by a herd of deer grazing on the grass beside the Mail Tree.
Just hanging out!
The Mail Tree
Fruita Orchards
The trail then winds by the road and hills with big volcanic boulders.
Boulders strewn over the hills
By the time we had perused the Visitors’ Center and watched the film, it started to rain. John went back to get the truck, and we drove into Torrey to check with Can-Am and check the internet. We met a couple who had cycled over the mountain from Bryce. It had taken them three days, through rain and snow.  By the time we got back, it had stopped raining, so we drove down the Scenic Drive to the Grand Wash,
The Back Road
The beginning of the Grand Wash

The entrance to an abandoned uranium mine
then to the beginning of the Capitol Gorge Road. Unfortunately due to the rain, it was closed, so we could go no further.

Since the next day was to be sunny, we extended our stay for another day. We went to the Petroglyphs first.
From 600AD to 1300AD native people of the Freemont Culture made their home in Capitol Reef.
We stopped to look at the schoolhouse
The Fruita one-room school.
and one of the first homes.
Behunin House
Then we decided to hike up to the Hickman Bridge.
Hickman Bridge Trailhead
 The route was to be a 400ft change in elevation. However, what they did not tell us that is was 400 ft. NET GAIN!! The climb to the first plateau was 400 ft. alone, then a beautiful trail of up and down, even along a sandy wash,

A small natural Bridge

Capitol Dome
Hickman Bridge
before the final climb to the 133ft. bridge- which is like an arch, but it was carved by the river, through a cliff wall.

Before we went back to the campground, we decided to walk along the Grand Wash Trail.
The Trail
Narrow between high cliffs, and winding
A sense of the height of the canyon walls
This is a winding trail along the sandy river bed, between high canyon walls.

The time had come to leave. We decided that we should have an airstream dealer look at the steps, so we were headed for Penticton BC. We did not have time to go to Bryce and Zion National Parks, as we had to leave the US. So, these were to be saved for next year!

We began our trek back to Canada. The first day we almost turned back as it began to snow shortly after we left Torrey and temperatures dropped to 1C. Luckily, though as we climbed up to the Pass, the sleet stopped so we continued on.

Our quick trip back to Canada included a stop at Temple Hill RV Resort
in Manti, Utah,
The Temple in Manti
Through all the rain, the sprinklers stayed on!
Willard Bay State Park in Utah,
Willard Bay
the beautiful Stoddard Creek National Forest camp site in Idaho, Nugget RV Park, a delightful family owned park in St.Regis, Montana, and a Municipal park in Omak.
Omak Municipal Park

Finally back in Canada, we arrived in Penticton BC to discover that the Airstream expert at Midtown RV was also a licenced welder. We were set! The steps were fixed and, as a bonus, the cable TV problems solved!



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