17
Feb

Island In The Sky

By: muttler

 

16/02/2022

Our first real day in Moab, and it was our first overcast day of the trip. Given we are here in the depths of winter, we have had a charmed run. And when I say overcast, it wasn’t like it was threatening rain or snow. But because of this, we decided to head to Canyonlands National Park, rather than Arches, as Arches was top of Kate’s “to do” list so we thought we would trust the forecast for sunny weather tomorrow.

Off we went. Just near Canyonlands is a State Park called Dead Horse Point, and we thought we would wheel in there before heading into Canyonlands proper. Oh boy we were glad we did.

Kate remarked that while Utah is dominated by rock formations, each park had a different feel, and already we felt that this part of Utah was different to Zion, Bryce and Capitol Reef. Here we were surrounded by basically HUGE canyons.

 

 

 

 

Dead Horse Point, while a very small park, was dominated by a massive canyon and views over the Colorado River, cutting its way through the landscape. Stunning.

From there it was into Canyonlands. Like I mentioned, this park had a very different feel to the others. Zion you are in amongst huge cliffs and you get to hike in and up them. Bryce was all about the spectacular views of the hoodoos and then hiking amongst them. Canyonlands though, it was all about being on an “Island In The Sky” and looking down on the canyons.

 

 

In fact, Island In The Sky was the name of the area we were in. Canyonlands actually is made up of 4 separate areas, and the one we were in was the most visited. We were on a flat of land in the middle of a number of canyons, in part formed by the Colorado and Green Rivers. So it made for a very different experience.

 

 

 

The park consists of several scenic drives, each with their own viewpoints and short hikes. The first hike I did was to the two outlooks for Upheaval Dome, which rather than be a dome sticking up out of the ground was actually more of a crater, of somewhat unknown origin. While not as spectacular as the crater of Death Valley, the second outlook gave me not only amazing views of the crater, but also the other canyons.

 

 

 

 

The rest of the day was mostly driving the scenic roads, with stops for viewpoints or short hikes. These included along the rim at some points to give unique views at every turn.

 

 

 

 

Another feature of Canyonlands is Mesa Arch, a short hike to a rock formation of a large arch, that not only was stunning itself, but very picturesque views through. It was spectacular but thought it may just be an entree for our visit to Arches National Park tomorrow.

It was only mid-late afternoon, but the weather had come in. In fact we were getting light snow on us! So having done the main sights, we decided to wander out of the park, lest we get stuck in the fog and snow. Besides, tomorrow would be a big day in Arches.

 

 

 

 

For dinner I strong-armed Kate into a visit to the Moab Brewery. A MASSIVE burger and a couple of pints later (a couple of IPAs) and we were done for the day. Time to rest for tomorrow.

16
Feb

Taking The Scenic Route

By: muttler

 

 

15/02/2022

Today was a fair driving day, needing to get from Kanab to Moab… all the way across the other side of Utah.

We had originally planned to hoof it on some of the major roads, however Kate proposed a different idea. How about we take the scenic route? It would only add another half an hour on, but would also take us through Capitol Reef National Park. Of course, let’s do it! Capitol Reef was not on our original plans, as it is quite small and a little out of the way. But now it was in the way, so was a good excuse to pay it a visit.

 

 

 

 

We said farewell to Kanab and headed off, back toward Bryce Canyon, but then heading further north. It was amazing the changing landscapes we had today. Within half an hour we went from the familiar red rocks, to snowy landscapes. Ah! So this is why we were warned about driving in Utah in winter! Thankfully for us it had been quite a mild, dry spell, so the roads were nice and easy and trouble free.

 

 

After about 3 hours of driving, 1.5 of which were in snowy landscapes, we were back in red rock territory. Capitol Reef is a sneaky one, as you don’t “enter” the park like the others… you literally drive through it as part of your normal travelling!

Once you are in the park, there are then some sights signposted, giving us perfect vistas that we were not getting sick of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The main difference is that when you hit the Visitors Centre, you can pay the park fee to drive the 10 mile scenic road. Given we had our National Parks Annual Pass, we flashed that and meandered down the scenic road, stopping for pics and then some lunch.

 

 

 

We didn’t partake in any of the hikes. There wasn’t any that were key ones to do, and we thought it best to get back on the road. On the way out we got to see some petroglyphs dating from between 600-1300 AD. Sadly they were slowly disappearing through erosion and natural rock falls, but given a number had lasted 1500 years already, they were likely to be around a little longer!

 

 

 

 

The drive continued to stun us. We went from the red rocks to strange, grey landscapes. Completely natural, but in some ways they looked like they were the result of mining or something, given the ashen colour.

But soon enough the red and brown vistas came back, as we got off the smaller road we were on and back on to an interstate. Barreling along at 80mph (yep, about 130kph) were were in Moab in no time.

Moab was a bit bigger than Kanab, but much more of a tourist town it seemed, with Arches and Canyonlands National Parks within half an hour of the town (Arches only 10 minutes away). Rather than explore we decided to chill after the long day of driving. More parks tomorrow 🙂

15
Feb

Hoodoo Voodoo

By: muttler

 

 

14/02/2022

Today was Bryce Canyon day!

We headed off nice and early on the 1.5hr drive to Bryce Canyon National Park. We were really looking forward to this one as photos we had seen were stunning.

A fairly quiet drive was made exciting by the proper arrival of SNOW! As we got within an hour of Bryce, we found the ground covered in snow. The roads were all fine, but it was delightful to see the white dusting all the landscape.

 

 

We drove into the park, and made our visit to the Visitors Centre. Unlike the previous two days at Zion, it seemed deathly quiet. There were very few cars around and we got the sense that we would be lucky to see a dozen other cars in the park. After getting our bearings and maps and things, we headed to one of the main view points of the famous Bryce Canyon Amphitheatre.

 

 

Holy moly.

It is incredible how similar, but also how vastly different the landscape and parks can be here in Souther Utah. Unlike Zion, which was magical and dramatic cliffs, with myriad hikes, Bryce Canyon was different.

The amphitheatre is a mind blowing canyon full of “hoodoos”… massive upright standing red rock formation. The hoodoos come from bigger rock formations that erode, giving a dramatic canon full of tall red soldiers. From above it looked immense.

We wandered along the rim for a while, trying to view the canyon from different angles, each catching the rising sun in different ways.

Today was going to be quite different to Zion… more about sightseeing in a way, more so than hiking. Bryce has one main scenic road that you can drive up and down, with about a dozen viewpoints along the way. Each would give a different view of the canyon and its hoodoos.

 

 

 

 

 

There was also some more unique rock formations, like Natural Bridge… a massive rock eroded by water to form a bridge like formation. The shapes, the colours… all was unbelievable.

 

 

 

So we spent the good part of a few hours doing the scenic drive, soaking in all the different views. There was also time for snowball fights 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

From there we went to something different. Mossy Cave is off the scenic drive, down at canyon floor level,  and offers an alternative to the canyon. A short hike along a river leads to a small cave. In summer it has flowing water, but in winter it is full of icicles and frozen mini waterfalls. It was nice diversion from the drama of Bryce Canyon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From here, I embarked on a 1.5hr hike down into the canyon. From the main Sunset viewing point, you could head straight down into the canyon, and hike amongst the hoodoos. It is remarkable how different it felt. From above, the canyon seems huge and almost impenetrable. But hiking into the canyon it becomes more intimate, as you wander amongst the hoodoos and other formations. It was amazing to just wander the trail down on the canyon floor, looking up at the formations.

 

 

 

 

A strenuous hike back to the top, I met Kate and we visited our last sightseeing spot, Bryce Point. We probably saved the best for last, as it was stunning, and with the sun starting to set it presented us with some final stunning imagery.

 

 

With the sun going down we headed back for our last night in Kanab, before we get moving again tomorrow. We finished the night at the local restaurant. Burger challenge… not too bad… pattie a bit overcooked, but the pickle and mashed potato was a nice side touch!

 

 

Oh, and a bonus photo… Kit Kat I picked up yesterday after getting a heads up from my mate Craig that they were floating around in the US 😉

12
Feb

Four States

By: muttler

 

11/02/2022

A quick post today. Today was just a big driving day, with around 300 miles covered. The day started in Death Valley, California, and went all the way through 4 different states to arrive at Kanab, Utah. Kanab will be our home for a few days while we visit Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks.

Our journey took us through California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah, with lots of in-and-out in each of them. I think we crossed state borders about 8 times!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The driving was SPECTACULAR. I don’t think I have ever done anything like it. I have seen a bit of it in previous trips to the Grand Canyon, but to have incredible views for 5 hours was something else. Especially when we got to Arizona and Utah, we were greeted with hulking red rocks and canyons.

Kanab is a cute town, looking like it is mostly catering for tourists. Indeed, the hotel clerk was telling us that things are tough with very few international visitors for the last 2 years and counting. He was very happy to see us, and I guess it was nice to contribute a little. Thinking about COVID, it definitely feels a little different here… way less masks (not many to be honest) as it seems to be if you are vaxxed then masks are not really a thing. We are staying vigilant, and not really seeing many people anyway!

So that’s it for today. Off to either Zion or Bryce Canyon tomorrow.

 

 

Oh, and today’s burger was The Habit Burger Grill a little out of Las Vegas. A solid burger, just lacked character.