Moab, Utah and Canyonlands
01.10.2013 - 03.10.2013
So -- with national parks and monuments closed due to the government shut-down today (stupid Congress), we found ourselves in southeast Utah, surrounded by such enticing vistas as Canyonlands National Park, Natural Bridge National Monument, and several others --all closed.
This forced us onto other locales we might otherwise have passed . Off Highway 191 south of Moab, we drove back 22 miles on a small paved road to " Needles Overlook." This brought us to a magnificent view into the east side of Canyonlands, and a horizon-filling vista of red sandstone cliffs, green mesas and the winding erosion of Muddy Creek and the Colorado River beyond. Magnificent!
About six miles south of Moab, we turned to the east and drove the La Sal Mountain Loop, a stunning 60-mile loop through the 12,000 foot La Sal mountain range and down to the Colorado River. This narrow and winding paved road climbs through valleys choked with scrub oak, to stunning vistas of the mountain tops. We timed this at the height of fall colors-- aspens in their yellows and golds, but also desert low shrubs creating a mosaic of rusts, yellows, golds, browns and mauves across the up-slopes. The last 15 miles or so of the loop is on Highway 128, with the wide waters of the Colorado River flowing along the roadway through an impressive red rock canyon.
We found oohs and ahhs today, even outside the national parks.
Also in the Moab area, we appreciated the stunning views into Canyonlands and the Colorado River from Dead Horse Point State Park. Highway 279, locally known as Potash Road, is an interesting 15-mile in-and-out drive, with petroglyphs on the canyon walls, and a 3-mile round-trip hike to Corona Arch. We had the thrills of off-road slick rock 4x4 touring, and we hiked the Negro Bill Canyon back to the Morning Glory Natural Bridge. No national parks, but we kept busy!