day 09: Colorado - Utah - Canyonlands NP - Moab


.                Our route on day 09 (lenght: 245 miles / 397 km)

On our trip on day nine whe crossed again a very diversified landscape. Starting at mountainous Southwest Colorado at Mesa Verde National Park, we drove west to Cortez. As we left Cortez to the northwest on Highway US-491 (former US-666) the landscape changed to hilly farmland. We made a break in Dove Creek, Colorado a small town near the state border to Utah. Entering Utah and heading to Monticello we could see the begin of the Canyonlands from far away.
In Monticello we turned north on Highway US-191. The scenery on both sides of the highway got more interisting with each mile. We saw colorful arches, big rock formations and small canyons, mostly in red. We made our next stop at Hole N" The Rock, 12 miles south of Moab, UT.

.                      Sunrise at Mesa Verde NP, CO

.                              Highway US-491, CO

.                                 Dove Creek, CO

Some of the scenery we saw at Highway US-191 in Utah:


    .        Churchrock at Highway US-191, UT                      Hole in the Rock, near Moab, UT                      Hole in the Rock, near Moab, UT

Hole N" The Rock is a 5000 square foot home, carved out of a huge rock in Utah's Canyonlands Country, located at Highway US-191, about 12 miles south of Moab. Inside are 14 rooms arranged around huge pillars, a fireplace with a 65 foot chimney drilled through solid sandstone and a bathtub build right into the rock. Outside you'll find a trading post, a gift shop, a cactus garden and an ostrich vivarium.
In 1945 Albert Christensen began to excavate the sandstone from the rock. In 1952 he and his wife Gladys moved in. When Albert died in 1957, the home was not complete. Gladys spend the next eight years finishing the home. She turned part of it into a cafe and gift shop, which she operated until she died in 1974. Today you can take guided tours of the home.


It began about 10 miles south of Moab. Jeeps and other offroad vehicles everwhere. On the road and offroad, crossing sanddunes and other dessert terrain. Each mile we came closer to Moab they got more and more. Enterring Moab we realized that this was the Jeep Jamboree week. There where original Jeeps in all colors, deeply customized Jeeps and a lot of exotic selfbuild or modified offroad vehicles, like sandbuggy, pickup trucks and SUVs.
After watching all that jeeps, we left Moab to the north, driving to the Island In The Sky section of Canyonlands National Park.

    . Petra & Nick near Mesa Arch, Canyonlands NP   Nick at Grand View Point Trail, Canyonlands NP            Petra & Nick at Grand View Point

Our trip to Canyonlands NP: As we had only one day planned for Canyonlands National Park, we decided to visit the Island In The Sky section, saving the other parts for future vacations. After stopping at the Visitor Center we drove the scenic drive to the south. Our next stop was the Mesa Arch trailhead. Here we started our first hike in Canyonlands. Walking through desert bushlands and red sand, uphill and downhill, we reached Mesa Arch after about 30 minutes. It was an overwhelming view thorugh the arch. Directly behind the arch the cliffs where falling several hundred feet and we where looking into a huge area of canyons stretching up to the horizon.
We walked back to the RV on the other half of the round trip trail. Then we drove the scenic drive farher south to our next stop at the Grand View Point.
Here we hiked the Grand View Trail, a two to three hours hike. From the Grand View Point, you have the probably most known view of Canyonlands.
We had to stop very often to savor the fantastic views we had from every point of the trail. Because of the many stops and a picnic we made at a beautiful site on the way we needed over four hours to complete the trail.
The Grand View Point is at the southernmost point of the scenic drive, so we returned back north and at halfway back we turned left to drive to the Upheavel Dome. As it was already late in the afternoon and we wanted to drive to Dead Horse Point State Park before sunset, there was no time left to take the trail to Upheavel Dome. So we only enjoyed the views you have from the scenic drive and returned to exit the park.

Canyonlands National Park is located in the heart of the Colorado Plateau in southeastern Utah. It runs about 65 miles (104 km) from north to south and about 25 miles (40 km) from east to west, encompassing 559 square miles. In the center is the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers. The rivers divide the park into three topographically distinct regions. They are "Island In The Sky", "The Needles" and "The Maze", in addition of the unattached Horseshoe Canyon northwest of the park. The park was established in 1964 and expanded to its current size in 1971.
Canyonlands National Park preserves a colorful landscape of sedimentary sandstones eroded into countless canyons, mesas and buttes by the Colorado River and its tributaries. It is far removed from civilization, primarily a backcountry destination. Only the two regions "Island In The Sky" and "The Needles" are reachable by a paved road.

Island In The Sky sits on a peninsula 1,200 feet above the Colorado and Green Rivers with superb views over the incredible expanse of canyons carved by the two rivers. The entrance to the district is 32 miles southwest of Moab and it is the most accessible and popular section of the park.

The Needles has views of the vast canyons that are the attraction of the Island in the Sky District, the Needles is primarily known for the wonderful red sandstone pinnacles from which it derives its name. It is also home to many other intriguing red rock formations and remarkable terrain. The entrance to the Needles District is located 75 miles southwest of Moab and 45 miles northwest of Monticello.

The Maze is accesible only by foot or by 4wd vehicle. It has an incedible series of fingerlike canyonys that provide great hiking opportunities.

.                        View through Mesa Arch, Canyonlands NP

.                              Grand View Point, Canyonlands NP

    .               Dead Horse Point State Park                            Dead Horse Point State Park                 Petra & Nick at Dead Horse Point State Park
Dead Horse Point State Park Dead Horse Point State Park is a small but very spectacular park. The park sits atop a narrow peninsula 2000 feet above the Colorado River. At the end of the peninsula are breathtaking views into Canyonlands National Park and to the Colorado River. Everyone visiting the Island In The Sky section of Canyonlands National Park should spend the few miles driving to Dead Horse Point State Park to get this outstanding views.

The name of the park comes from the legend that cowboys once chased wild horses onto the peninsula and fenced off the narrow 30 yard neck to create a large corral. They selected the best of the herd for use and left the rest. Horses left in the corral when the cowboys left were unable to find their way out and died en masse, leaving just their bleached bones as a reminder.

To us the Dead Horse State Park presented a very nice finish of our day trip. After all that hiking in Canyonlands we only had to walk for a short distance from the parking space to the view points. Here we enjoyed looking back to Canyonlands and the Colorado River bending its way through the canyons about 2000 feet deeper.
.                                             Moab, UT                                                                                  Moab, UT
Driving back to Moab we headed to the KOA Campground, our place for the next two nights. Because of the Jeep Jambouree many offroaders also camped at the Moab KOA, so we had the opportunity to explore some vehicles and talked with there drivers about there adventures in the desert.


.                               Moab, UT                                           KOA Campground, Moab, UT                           KOA Campground, Moab, UT

    day 09 travel dates:

    Route: Mancos, CO - Monticello, UT - Canyonlands NP - Dead Horse Point SP, Moab, UT
    Miles: today = 245 / total = 1276
    Visiting: Dove Creek, CO & Canyonlands NP, UT & Dead Horse Point SP, UT & Moab, UT
    Night at KOA Moab, Moab, UT



USA Southwest 2002 ----- Travel ----- Klaus Tueshaus ----- Established: 08-APR-2002 ----- Last Update: 03-MAR-2018