The Red and Orange of Utah

Driving from Yellowstone, we passed through the Grand Tetons which were a beautiful mountain range and reminded me of BC.  It’s another park that could have taken up a lot of our time, but we didn’t plan to stay.  After the chilly temperatures of northern Wyoming, we headed down to Utah and experienced some real heat.  We haven’t actually been in that hot of weather our whole trip since leaving Australia.  Canadian summers are pleasant but we didn’t really experience very much heat-stroke inducing weather whilst driving across.  In Utah, and in Moab specifically, we were so hot, that we had to start our days early and call it a day by 3pm at the latest.  Thankfully, while staying in Moab, our campsite had a pool and there were many creameries to choose from for our daily ice cream cone.

Utah.  What a state!  It hosts something like six different national parks or monuments and has some of the most stunning scenery we’ve seen.  The rocks and sand and dirt are red, orange, yellow, purple, green.  The skies are brilliant blue.  While there we visited the following national parks or monuments: Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Monument Valley, and the Glen Canyon dam.  We tried to see Antelope Canyon, but our tour was cancelled due to a rather large storm which took off part of the roof of the business we were booked with.  The wind was so strong we were pelted with sand…in the middle of a city.  The threat of flash floods was much too great to continue the tour and neither of us wanted to go in that kind of weather anyway.  We were pretty disappointed.  My current picture on my desktop is from Antelope Canyon, and I didn’t even know that until last month.  I just chose it because I liked the pretty colours.  We couldn’t book for the next day either because it was fully booked except for a 6am slot and the light is not great at that time.  We did try to make it to Buckskin Gulch as well, which is nearby (ish) but when we were halfway there, we met another car who stopped and the people driving it said, “Do you have four wheel drive?  You won’t be getting in or out without it, and even then you might have some trouble.”  So, that was the end of that.  Big Bertha is a star but she can’t drive into ponds leftover from storms.  We will have to come back to Utah for sure!  Besides that disappointment, our time was amazing.

The great thing about Arches National Park is that you could technically see all the best things while driving, with just short little excursions around certain rock formations for that much more of an experience.  This suited us just fine because of the aforementioned heat.  A popular spot is “the windows” a spot which showcases two arches which are next to each other and have bottoms too, to create a eye-glasses appearance.  We walked along the “primitive” path, the one old or unfit people wouldn’t try, (which was totally easy and would have been fine even for the old or unfit) which took us behind these arches first.  We came around the back and had complete silence as we viewed the landscape at our leisure.  Once we rounded the corner we were among the masses again, people who just take the stairs, take their photo, and go back the way they came.  It’s true about famous locations.  If you go off the beaten path even for just three minutes, there’s no one.  Otherwise, you’re among the crowds.  It’s a lesson we’ve learned throughout our journey.

Another popular spot is to see Delicate Arch.  We were already so hot that we decided we couldn’t do the strenuous hike (difficult, but doable) on our first day because it was a trail that was in full sun for most of it.  We saw the arch from afar.

We did one major hike while in Arches, and that was to see the “devil’s garden”.  It took us the whole morning and into the afternoon to do it and included scrambling up a slippery slope with no real footholds, and traversing a path with cliff drops on either side.  I found it okay to do, though, despite a fear of heights which I may have written about before.  The views were spectacular.

While in Canyonlands, we saw the famous Mesa Arch at sunrise along with 60 million other people, complete with tripods and attitudes alike.  Callum went up 20 minutes before I did and remarked to me later that the rudeness of people astounded him.  It was a bit annoying trying to get photos without people in them, but we managed.  One group of three people raced ahead of me on the path, two of the women bumping into me on their way without so much as a “sorry” (definitely not Canadian).  They took over the whole morning’s photo-taking opportunities, each posing in about 11 or 12 different poses EACH, every time asking people to get out of the way of their shot.  Anyway.  We got our shots and then did a nice little walk to a spot where almost nobody goes.  In fact, if you want to camp within Murphy Point and down into the canyon, there is only one permit issued per day.  That’s right.  If you’re a solo traveller you’ll hike down, sleep and awaken all by yourself in a huge canyon.  We didn’t do that, obviously, with only one day for Canyonlands, but we did meet the backpacker coming back up while we were going down.  A very outdoorsy sorta guy.

We felt like you’d need an extra day in each park to have more time for further hikes in both, however, we thought for our trip three days between the two was sufficient time.

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