I’m just about to call uncle on all these beautiful landscapes we’ve seen in Colorado and Utah. I can’t take it in fast enough, there’s so much to see and it’s all so amazing. We’ve already extended our stay in Moab by another two nights but at some point we’ll just have to pull up anchor and move on.
Canyonlands was one of the national parks we missed last year when we were in the area but we’re back now and made it our #1 priority yesterday.
This was one of the times when a little research prior to our visit might have been wise. I don’t think it would have changed our plans but just given us the heads-up on the lay of the land.
Once we got to the visitor’s center we learned the park is divided into three districts that adjoin each other but can only be reached by different entry points that are several hours apart. We entered the Island in the Sky region and spent the day hiking and driving this one district.
This region is the most accessible and has the most visitors each year. It is a wide, high plateau with breathtaking views of the red rock canyons for miles around in all directions. We drove out and took several hikes along the route, including one out to the rim of the plateau where you can look out for miles at the other districts of the park.
One of the interesting factoids we learned is that the NPS measured the interior of Canyonlands NP and found it to be one of the quietest places in the United States. Even on the plateau it was very quite and we loved visiting this time of year when there were far fewer hikers on the trails.
Mesa Arch (below) is one of a few arches found in Canyonlands National Park. It’s a very nice arch but for the motherload of arches it’s only about a 40 minute drive over to Arches National Park. We visited there last year and popped in again yesterday evening for some sunset photography.
The other two districts in the park are The Maze and The Needles. The Maze is very remote and can only be toured via a four-wheel-drive vehicle, motorbike or mountain bike. The Needles is a smaller section, with far less paved road than Island in the Sky. It features striking rock formations and petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock (much like the one we saw in Petrified Forrest last year). We’ll save those districts for another visit when we have some off-road capabilities. We’re loving the Smart car we are towing but it’s a little weird in this part of the country where we are surrounded by four-wheel-drive monsters.