Monday, March 19, 2007

Moab Trip: Canyonlands

Day Two, and we emerge fully refreshed from our sumptuous rooms at the Canyonlands Motor Inn, ready for another day's hiking and snapping.

Canyonlands National Park is a forty mile drive from the motel and about the same distance from Arches where we were the day before, but the difference between the two is striking.

On the way we stopped at Newspaper Rock: a large slab of slick rock bearing some ancient petroglyphs, some of which are thousands of years old.

Newspaper Rock

Our first stop inside the park was Wooden Shoe Arch. See if you can spot the clog in this picture:

Wooden Shoe Arch

The Needles

From there we drove on down a long dirt track (glad we had a 4x4) to Elephant Hill. There's an extreme 4x4 track here leading up from the car park to the top of the hill, over large rocks, deep ruts, and winding around tight hairpins and steep inclines. I took one look at it and decided no way would we ever make it to the top in our Toyota RAV4, so we parked up and prepared to hike to the top. Just then, an old gold-coloured Chevy SUV came past, with two old couples inside: the men in front and the women in back. They were all around 70 years old, but sure enough this clunking old vehicle headed straight for the track and started climbing it.

The old boy's 4x4 is halfway up the hill. Can you see it?

The three of us and several others assembled in the car park to observe this feat, all of us standing with arms crossed going, "No, they'll never make it.", and wincing every time we heard the grinding scrape of metal against rock. But we were wrong. Not only did they make it to the top, but they came back down smiling, and on congratulating them on their achievement we discovered that they were locals, and the driver had done this track, "many times".

When they rolled triumphantly back into the car park we all cheered, and breathed a sigh of relief.

After that excitement we hiked up to the top to take some more photos.

For lunch we went to the Stagecoach Diner, which is owned and run by Jim and Cheryl Nyland, parents of a Novell friend of ours JD Nyland. When JD heard we were going down to his home town he told us to "go see his folks", so we did. The food was excellent and the welcome we received even better.

Stagecoach Diner in Moab

After lunch we had time for just one more park before heading back to Salt Lake City. Dead Horse Point is a high hilltop from which you get some absolutely stunning views of the northern part of the Canyonlands park, with the Colorado River snaking its way around the canyon. This was the location used for the opening rock-climbing scene in Mission Impossible II.

Two stunning views from Dead Horse Point

I could've sat here all afternoon

All good things must come to an end though, and at 4pm we set off on the four-hour drive back to Salt Lake City.
Souteastern Utah is really beautiful, and if you're the outdoor type you'd be hard pressed to find a better holiday destination.


Sand Gets in My Eyes said...

Hey Neal - Just found your blog and am enjoying the images of Moab - one of our very favorite locations! I'll keep reading, but wanted to say hi from another expat here in Saudi!

Chris said...


My first name is Chris -- Neal is my surname.

Thanks for the comment, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog.