The Green and Colorado Rivers merge in the middle of desolate Canyonlands National Park to form the river that created the Grand Canyon. Canyonlands itself can hold its own with any hole in the ground as an awesome sight.
by Wasatch on February 25, 2009
We took a step back into the past at Milt’s, a classic example of what drive-ins were like beforeMcDonald’s. Milt’s appeared to do mainly a carry out business catering to locals. Inside, thereis room for eight on stools at the counter and table space for six, by the window. Gettingtired of typical fast food joints, we gave Milt’s a try. It took only one visit to put Milt’s #1 on ourshort list of the best places for lunch in Moab. Milt’s was founded in 1954 and it looks like it has not changed in appearance. Befitting andconfirming it’s age and origins if I am not mistaken, the walls and counter were covered withwhite Bakelite. The menu includes six variety of burgers plus the nine extras, hot dogs, someother sandwiches, chili, and a concoction called "Frito Pie"-- Fritos layered in a bowl toppedwith cheese and smothered in "Milt’s famous chili." It was not reported whether anyone ever atethis and lived.We had the fast food classic lunch- burger, fries, and a milk shake. Milt’s beat the fast foodchains hand down on all three, plus providing fast and efficient table service.The staff of two kept things moving briskly. Bottom line: A good value with better hamburgers than McDonald’s or any of its ilk, and waybetter milk shakes. The menu includes several burger variations, double and single burgers with your choice of ninedifferent toppings at added cost. There is also a 1/4 lb. Buffalo Burger at the same price, $3.89,as the 1/3 lb hamburger. This is an amazing deal on a Buffalo Burger. If you aren’t familiarwith Buffalo, this the place to try it. After all, you are in the wild west where the Buffalo roam,and you probably can’t get fast food Buffalo burgers at home. One word of warning. Buffalomeat makes skinless chicken breast look like a high calorie fat loaded food, but the meatprocessors cheat in making ground Buffalo for burgers. They add fat to the Buffalo, raising itsfat content from the original 2% to around 9%, but compared to a Big Mac, Buffalo burgers are astarvation diet. Still, in spite of the extra fat load, Buffalo burgers are an extremely dry meat, andthey benefit from anything with moisture being added to them– load it up with ketchup ormustard. Many describe Buffalo as a sweet tasting beef. I can’t see it. Buffalo strikes me as beef thattastes better than beef.Other sandwich offerings include chicken, turkey, Rubens, grilled cheese, egg, fish, and veggieburger. There are four salads with or without a choice of Milt’s meats and eight Chicago hot dogvariations. To drink: coffee tea, milk, pop/soda, milk shakes, and malts. The Hamburger Steak Platterfeaturing a half pound burger patty steak topped with grilled onions and cheese and served withhomemade fries, toast and a salad, is the most expensive item on the menu at $7. Prices are anoutstanding bargain for a resort area. If you go anywhere except Milt’s for lunch, you made a big mistake.
A few years ago, two hikers set off from I-15 in southern Utah to walk to Moab. It took them123 days. I recommend driving.BY AIR You can fly into Moab, but its expensive. Salt Lake City is the closest major gateway andthe trip to Canyonlands, about 4 hours to several days, is impressively scenic. The fastest route is I-15 south to US 6 east to I-70 east to US 191 south. The scenery on thisroute features the trip over the Wasatch Mtn. Range and the desert landscape east of the Wasatch. From Helper to I-170, the long mesa on the left is the Book Cliffs. You will be impressed withthe isolation of Canyonlands, but Canyonlands is nothing compared to the Book Cliffs, perhapsthe most isolated place in the country. A side roads off US 6 ends in less than 20 miles at a ranchhouse. 60 years ago the rancher discovered the largest prehistoric Indian ruins in North Americaon one corner of his ranch. Fifty years later he donated the land to the State Archeologist. Thatwas the first the world knew of his discovery. For a half a century, nobody else came across thisancient city.Desolation Canyon is in the Book Cliffs. Desolation Canyon is 2/3 the size of the Grand Canyonand a mile deep. That’s big. Did you ever hear of Desolation Canyon? The closest roadaccess(dirt) ends 35 miles from the canyon rim. Zipping along at 65 mph for 84 miles along the base of the Book Cliffs in your air conditionedcar with MP3 player, cell phone, and laptop, look over at the Book Cliffs and reflect on thevastness of nature with Ozymandias, "gaze on my works ye mighty and despair."The problem with US 6 is that it is a very dangerous road, the number one killer in Utah becausethe State Legislature would rather see people slaughtered in head on collisions than raise the gastax to make it an expressway. Safer, but less scenic and a bit longer is to take I-70 south to US 50 to I-70 east. The Book Cliffs are on the left after passing the intersection with US 6 on I-70. Another pleasant alternative that misses the most dangerous half of Rt 6 is to leave Salt LakeCity on I-80 east to US 40 east to US 191 south. If you do this in early October, stop at theStrawberry Visitor’s center to see the salmon run. After US 40 passes Strawberry Reservoir (the big lake on the right), it climbs a hill. There isusually a Beaver Dam in the little stream along right side of the road on the downhill trip. If thefront seat passenger watches closely, he should spot it. I can spot it while driving, but I knowwhat to look for. Do you?From Las Vegas I-15 to UT Rt 9 to US Rt 89 to UT Rt 12 to UT Rt 24 to I-70 to US 191 to Canyonlands. This trip is described in detail below. Its about 460 miles. It can be done in one long day, butthat would be a big mistake. SCENIC ROUTESFrom Salt Lake City I-15 south to US 50 south to UT 24 to I-70 east to US 191 south. UT 24 is a scenic roadwhose highlights, and these are impressive, are Capitol Reef National Park and the badlands justeast of Capitol Reef. Canyonlands is a hole in the surface of the Colorado Plateau. Capitol Reefis an odd rock formation 100 miles long on top of the Colorado Plateau. Rt 24 goes throughHanksville, a strong candidate for the title ‘arm pit of America’. Hanksville is at the intersectionof UT 24 and UT 95. Don’t blink or you will miss it. Hanksville’s economy depends on a gasstation, a couple motels at the intersection, and 240 cows on small ranches. A few years ago, theriver running through Capitol Reef flooded and wiped out Hanksville’s irrigation canals, withoutwhich the 240 cows can’t live. The Federal government gave Hanksville $5,000,000 to rebuildthe canals. And you thought Kobe Beef was expensive! Four years later, every Republicanmember of Utah’s Congressional delegation who engineered this pork barrel voted against Pres.Obama’s economic stimulus package. From Las Vegas Drive over to Lake Mead and follow the road along the lake to Valley of Fire State Park–well worth a visit– and then to I-15. Near the Arizona-Utah border, I-15 runs through the veryscenic Virgin River Gorge, so rugged that I-15 is the first road to go through the gorge. Unfortunately, there is only one parking area in the gorge, near the north end and mostly out ofthe really scenic stuff. Somewhere north of Las Vegas, the scenery changes from the Mojave Desert to the ColoradoPlateau. Neatly shown on maps, these places in reality merge into each other in a messy fashion. The Valley of Fire has elements of both, but when you come out of the Virgin River Gorge, youare definitely on the Colorado Plateau, 135,000 sq. miles of the most scenic landscapes in theworld. Local slang for the Colorado Plateau is "red rock country", and you will soon know why.Turn right, east, on UT Rt 9 just north of St George. This is one of the world’s most scenicroads, especially when driven in the other direction, which you can do on your return to LasVegas. Rt 9 cuts through spectacular Zion National Park– stay at least for day. Rt 9 ends at US 89, another scenic road at Mt Carmel Jct. Go north, left, to UT Rt 12(seereview of) which rivals Rt 9 for spectacular scenery. Twenty miles down Rt 12 is the turnoff forBryce Canyon National Park, requiring five hours for a quick visit. Back on Rt 12 going east, theroad crosses the vast and desolate Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument. Rt 12 joinsUT Rt 24 just before Capitol Reef National Park (see above for the rest of the trip). The shortest way back to Las Vegas is to reverse this drive, but if that is what you are going todo, make this modification when going to c*. Stay on I-15 past Rt 9 for another 50 miles to UTRt 14, another scenic route, although not in the same league as Rts 12 and 9, which goes byCedar Breaks National Monument and joins US 89 about 25 miles from Rt 12. Then return viaRt 9, to go in the direction on Rt 9 that has the best views (east to west). This trip can be done in about seven days, minimum, or you can spend the better part of lifetimeexploring it.For a longer return from Canyonlands head south on US 191 through Monument Valley, perhapswith a 60 miles detour to see the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park to Petrified WoodNational Park and then across the Navajo Reservation to the Grand Canyon National Park, thenacross Hoover dam and to Las Vegas.From Denver This is a long haul, but a pleasantly scenic mountain drive. Head west on I-70 from theDenver airport– I recommend skipping Denver, a pretty dull place, in favor of spending moretime visiting the outstanding scenery in the Colorado mountains. Georgetown, about 50 milesfrom the airport is an attractive well preserved old west mining town. Give it a look. Turn southon scenic CO Rt 91 six miles west of Frisco to US 285 to US 50 west The Black Canyon of theGunnison National Park. Both the Black Canyon and Canyonlands are big holes in the ground,but they are as different as different can be. At Montrose head south on US 550. In 20 miles atthe intersection CO 26 comes a dilemma. Here starts the loop road around the San Juan Mtns.,one of the best mountain drives in North America. If you don’t have time for the whole loop,which way to go? US 550 to Durango(home of the famed Silverton Train) is a bit more scenic,but the other side of the loop enables a visit to Telluride. Whichever way you choose, at US160, go see Mesa Verde National Park. Then contiune west on US 491 (until a few years ago,this was US 666, but the right wing religious nuts got GW Bush to ban the "Devil’s sign" as ahighway number). US 491, né 666, crosses the heart of the America’s pinto bean farms. Northon US 191 brings you to Canyonlands. For the return to Denver, take scenic UT 126 just north of Moab to I-70 east to Denver, with avisit to Colorado National Monument.
by Wasatch on February 22, 2009
Long time Moab visitors will recall the popular BBQ joint, Fat City, the only eatingplace in town deserving a recommendation, but it is now closed. The owner/chef wentinto catering. So that leaves the newer Moab Brewery as the top BBQ candidate, and inmany respects, it is up to the challenge. But there are flaws, including some big ones like the pedestrian $6.50 burger and coleslaw that loses the taste test to milk soakedcardboard. On the bright side, the smoked chicken and beef are excellent. Both have anice smoked flavor and the beef, sensibly tri-tip rather than the ubiquitous dried outbrisket, is outstanding. Chicken and beef are served with a fine BBQ sauce on the side. Ribs, compared to the chicken and beef, were a let down– dry and chewy, albeit nicelyflavored.The excellent BBQ sauce was commendably served on the side with the chicken andbeef but regrettably, the ribs were drowned in it. I used the chicken and beef to mop upthe excess sauce on the ribs, which turned out to be enough for all three meats on thecombo platter.Onion rings are superb. They gave me indigestion all night long. That’s because I’mallergic to onions, but every now and then I break down and do something foolish likeorder onion rings. Actually, I finally did get sleep about 2:00am when I remembered totake a tipple dose of allergy pills. I relate my stomach distress so that you understandwhen I say that I would order these onion rings again, that is the highest complimentbecause by that, I’m doing so at peril to my health. That’s how good they are.Starters with the diners, but not the hamburger, were a nondescript Romaine lettucesalad and a good baked roll. Servings are very large. Who can eat desert or an appetizer with one of these meals?Service was surprisingly fast and friendly for as busy as the place was.Eight beers and ales, brewed on the premises, were offered. We had Derailleur Alebecause the waiter said this amber ale came closest to being a dark beer. It was goodenough that we ordered it again the next night in another local restaurant that carriedit.The Bottom Line: stick to the smoked chicken or beef and onion rings, avoid thecoleslaw and burgers, and you will have a fine meal, the best we’ve found in Moab. The menu in 2009 offers five kinds of ale, a stout, and an amber lager. We’ve tried several hereand elsewhere, and all are fine examples of their kind. Beer is served as pints or pitchers. There are seven fish dishes on the menu including fish & chips, Mahi-Mahi, blackened tilapia, asmoked salmon wrap, tilapia sandwich, and salmon. Should you eat fish in Moab? Look at farit is to the nearest ocean. I wouldn’t bother, except for smoked salmon which is made to survive. There are six burger variations, made with various sauces and cheseses and such. The 13appetizers include fries, baked potato, crab & artichoke dip, squid, some Mexican stuff, andwings. The 12 chicken offerings include several sandwiches and dinners such as chicken Alfredoand various smoked chicken dishes. There is an extensive list of veggie dishes and saladsincluding some pasta dishes, cheese enchilada, burito, the ubiquitous graden lasad, Ceasar salad,smoked salmon salad, and gyro salad. Four soups, including chili, are offered either by the bowl or served in a home made breadbowl($3 extra).The main dinner menu features their smoked meats– sausages, chicken, ribs, beef, and the comboof chicken, beef, and ribs. There are also steaks and prime rib.Full dinners run $14-22, sandwiches are $7-8. (2009 prices)The restaurant is one very large room done up in sort of modern rustic. The "tavern", like a barin the real world, is off to one side. Big, bustling, and fairly noisy, tthis is not the place for aquiet candlelight dinner.Now a word about Utah beer. 3.2 beer is easily available. Just walk into the Moab Brewery andorder one. Stronger beer is more complex. It is so complicated that you are well advaised toforget it, but if you want to go to the trouble of solving the maze of Utah’s booze laws, seek outDevastator Bock. At 9% alcohol, it will knock your socks off, and its good tasting stuff. Stick with 3.2 and it won’t drive you crazy. You can even buy it in some grocery stores and 7-11type places. In a strange way, the state enforced-- wait, make that the Mormon Church enforced– limit on the alcohol content of beer is a good thing because, unable to rely on a hagh alcoholconttent to impress (render unconscious) beer drinkers, Utah’s brew pubs are forced to stresstaste quality, and on this they do a fine job. Utah brews have an impressive history of scoringhigh at beer competitions (the same cannot be said for Utah’s insipid wines which should only bedrunk for their novelty). The 3.2 limit is not as bad as it first seems. There are two ways of measuring the alcohol contentof beer. Most places use a system that shows Utah’s 3.2% beer to be 4.6% alcohol, still weak butgetting close to the 5.5-6% of real beer in most states. The bottom line: if you like beer with your BBQ, thank your lucky stars and head straight for theMoab Brewery.
Three miles north of Moab, UT, Arches and Canyonlands(see journal on) National Parks sit onopposite sides of US Rt 191, only 12 miles apart. Arches has some 2,000 identified arches.Most of the biggest and best can be seen from or by short walks from the park’s threepaved roads. The main road runs 18 miles from the Visitor’s Center toDevils Garden trail head (restrooms) and campground. Two roads branch offthe main road, the very scenic Windows Road(rest room), and the road tothe Delicate Arch view point (restroom) and trail head. There is more to Arches than arches. Leaving the Visitor’s Center, theroad climbs about 1,000 ft. up a red rock cliff, with good views of theMoab Fault, the depression where the highway runs. The first of thepark’s major stops is at the top of the cliff on the left, the Park Ave.area which bears a resemblance to Monument Valley. The Park Ave. trail ( one mile, o.w)cuts across a curve in the road, so if you have someone to pick you up, it canbe walked one way. We walk Park Ave. on the installment plan– we park at one end or theother, walk halfway, and turn around and walk back. Since these rock formations look differentdepending on which way you are going, this is not repetitious. The next place of interest is the Petrified Sand Dunes pullover on theright, from which you look out across a filed of ancient sand dunes whichturned to rock when they sank beneath the sea eons ago. In the spring, the snow covered La SalMtns. rise up on the horizon behind the frozen dunes.Next on the right, the very short flat trail (0.3 miles, r.t.) around Balanced Rock is much moreinteresting than it looks from the road. Do it.The turn off to The Windows runs through some of the best roadsidescenery in the Park, ending at the Windows parking lot(restroom). Onabout three out four visits, we skip the Windows Trail(one mile) , but always takethe short and easy Double Arch Trail (0.8 miles), one of the best in the Park. Theparking lot is oval shaped. The Double Arch Trail is about 3/4 the wayaround the parking lot. There is a spot about 80% of the way from the parking lot to where they trail turns into a climbunder the first arch where the cliff to the right produces a remarkable echo of hands clapping. Face the cliff, clap your hands until you find it. Others on the trail will look at you oddly untilyou hit the spot, then everybody starts clapping. Once you locate echo central, try snapping yourfingers. The result is amazing.On the way back to the main road, stop at the Garden of Eden Viewpointfor grand views in every direction. Bring binoculars. Use the spottingscope at the right hand end of the parking lot to locate the Delicate Arch, the parks most famous feature. Back on the main road, 2.5 miles from the Windows Road intersection, Panorama View Pointhas a great view of Salt Valley Wash and the Fiery Furnace. From here, the road plunges downthe side of Salt Valley Wash to the side road to the Delicate Arch.Next up, the Delicate Arch (see review of). The trail head(2-3 hrs. to the Delicate Arch.) orparking lot(rest room) view point of Delicate Arch are reached by thesame road. If you go to the end of the road, the short trail from the parking lot up the slick rockfor a better view of the Delicate Arch is worth the little effort required. Do not be fooled by thename ‘slick rock’. In reality, this rough sandstone is sticky rock, anything but slick. It got thename slick because iron horseshoes can not get a grip on it. The old west’s horse riding cowboysand explorers slid all over the place, but even with leather soled shoes, you feel like you arenailed onto the rock face. With athletic shoes or hiking boots, especially with those with Vibramsoles, the effect is positively unnerving. You can walk straight up steep hills without slipping aseasily as strolling on a flat big city sidewalk. Feel the rock surface. Its like course sandpaper.Back on the main road, we pass the Fiery Furnace, Arch’s toughesthike. If you sign away your first born at the Visitor’s Center, theymight issue you a permit to explore Fiery Furnace on your own, but thisis no place for amateurs. The Fiery Furnace is a rugged rock maze, withwalls so high you can’t see out except straight up. Get lost here, and youare really lost. A Ranger leads 1-2 daily hikes into the Fiery Furnace.Very difficult hiking, and only by personal reservations at the Visitor’sCenter. Do not be surprised if you show up to register for the Ranger led hike and find it bookedfull for 1-3 days ahead.Next stop, Sand Dune Arch, a short 15 minute walk(0.3 miles) from the road. Both literally andfiguratively this is one of the coolest places in the park. When you reach the cliff, about 50yards from the road, the trial enters a narrow crack in the rock face, shading the trail all day longand keeping it cool. You climb up some sand dunes filling the crack from wall to wall a little bitand then, above you to the right, is the arch, a cool trip and cool view.Do whatever else you want in the park, butt do not miss the trails to Double Arch and Sand DuneArch. The parking lot at the end of the road is very popular and the start of one of the park’s mostpopular trails (there is also a campground and restrooms here). The flat trail runs past a string ofarches, including Long Arch, or at least it did. Long Arch, with a span of about 260 feet, was thelongest arch in the world. It collapsed in 2008. Now it is a plie of rubble at the bottom of a gapin the ridge.On our May 23 & 24 visit, Indian Paintbrush were in full bloom. Paintbrush is the mostspectacular desert wildflower, a bright red flower atop a stem looking like a spring of rosemary.Technically, Paintbrush is not a flower. Rather, red is the temporary color of the newgrowth leaves. If your schedule is flexible, it’s worth a call or emailto any of the Southwest’s National Parks to get an estimate on when thePaintbrush will flower and time your trip for that. The rocks will alwaysbe there. Paintbrush makes but a fleeting, awesome appearance. Late afternoon is the best time to travel the park’s roads because that’swhen the setting sun best lights up most of features along the roads.Always carry water with you, lots of water in the summer. As the bird flies, Natural Bridges National Monument is about 60 miles south west of Arches,but Canyonlands National Park is in the way, so it’s a 120 mile drive. Natural bridges andarches, what’s the difference? A natural bridge is carved through the rock by running water, ariver or stream or a seasonal wash. An arch is created by temperature changes. The rock face ofthe cliffs are covered with tiny cracks. If a little water gets into a crack and freezes, the force ofthe expanding ice pops a little bit of rock off the face of the cliff. For reasons I can’t recall, theprocess operates to create an upside down U shape on the face of the cliff. Given a few millionyears to work on it, these little pieces of popped off rock can eventually eat right through a ridge,leaving a hole in the rock and creating an arch. You can see arches being formed in manyplaces by looking for an upside down U shaped hollow in the side of cliff. The visitor’s canter is just inside the park entrance.The entrance fee is $25 per car, good for a week and for both Arches and Canyonlands NationalParks.
by Wasatch on February 21, 2009
Canyonlands is one of Utah’s five National Parks set on the Colorado Plateau. The Green and Colorado Rivers merge in the middle of desolate Canyonlands NationalPark to form the river that created the Grand Canyon. Although called "Colorado", the Green contributes most of the water. The Colorado was discovered first, so the namestuck. The Green River is nature’s greatest carving tool, cutting its way through theGates of Lahore in Dinosaur National Monument, Flaming Gorge, Desolation Canyon,Canyonlands, Glenn Canyon (now flooded as Lake Powell National Recreation Area),and the Grand Canyon. This immense canyon system, up to 21 miles wide, runs theentire length of Utah and across most of Arizona. From the Wyoming-Utah border toLaughlin, AZ, a road trip of over 600 miles, there are only seven places where pavedroads reach river level. Canyonlands starts just north of Moab, only 12 miles across US Rt 191 from Arches NationalPark. Canyonlands is immense,-- 527 sq. miles– a rough rectangle about 20 mileseast to west and 30 miles north to south. Three paved roads penetrate the parkbounders: 1] Island in the Sky, via US 91 and UT Rt 313, is 30 miles north of Moab; 2]the Needles Overlook road turns off US 191 is about 30 miles south of Moab, the firstpaved road on the left after La Sal Jct., then 22 miles to the overlook; 3] UT Rt 211, 42miles south of Moab, then 20 miles to the end of the road.ISLAND IN THE SKY is the most popular spot with visitors because of its proximity toMoab and Arches National Park. Here the canyon rim reaches the highest point in thepark. From the viewpoints, we could see five mountain ranges, as far as 72 miles away, and the seemingly endless expanse of Canyonlands reaching to the far horizon. If youlook south from Grand View Point and locate the brightest spot of green below, you seethe Colorado River, 2,200 ft. below. The Green River is easily seen from Green RiverViewpoint.Mesa Arch is our favorite place on Island in the Sky. The view through the arch, about10 minutes from the parking lot is incredible– cliffs, canyons, pillars, pinnacles, andbehind all, the snow capped La Sal Mountains. Just beyond Mesa Arch, the road splits,with the left branch ending at Grand View Overlook and the right going to WhaleRock, and odd shaped rock, and Upheaval Dome. There are pullovers and overlooksalong both roads. The first view of Upheaval Dome tells you it does not belong here. Whatever it is, it isout of place. Upheaval Dome is out place anywhere on this planet. To begin, it isneither an upheaval or a dome, it is a pit, almost circular, four miles across, and 1,000ft. deep. Upheaval Dome puzzles geologists, who aren’t sure what it is. The originaltheory, which accounts for the name, is that an underground salt dome was uplifted asan anticline and then dissolved and was carried away by ground water, causing thesurface to collapse into the hole left behind when the salt was removed. However, recent research suggests Upheaval Dome is a meteor impact crater, like the craters onthe Moon. Also like the craters on the Moon, there is a small mountain in the bottom of Upheaval Dome. Unlike the Moon, Upheaval Dome comes in Technicolor. There aren’tmany places in the USA where meteor craters are so easily and clearly seen, so plan tomake the short walk to Upheaval Dome. The 0.3 mile one way trial climbs about 120ft. from the parking lot road to the rim of the crater and continues along the rim forfurther views. Looking down into the crater, we saw, unlike the orderly stacking ofrocks of different colors in the surrounding canyon walls, a crazy jumble of coloredrocks, jumbled by some vast and mysterious force. Truly an otherworldly view,probably a gift from a visitor from space and a scene not to be missed.The White Rim Trail, the relatively flat step at the bottom of the first of a series of cliffsdropping down to the rivers is a popular mountain biking and 4-wheeler trail.At one point, the road crossing the ridge connecting Island in the Sky to the "mainland" is only about 15 ft. wider than the road, with shear cliffs dropping off 1,000 ft. on eachside. There is a visitors center before the end of the road.NEEDLES OVERLOOK is our favorite view point, an immense panorama of canyonsspreading as far as the eye can see and almost beyond comprehension. Not that anyplace in Canyonlands is crowded, but Needles Overlook is the least visited of the park’seasily accessible areas. About half the space of the overlook is occupied by an odd pileof rocks, an easy and fun spot to climb around on. On our first visit, we stayed 90 minutes and had the place to ourselves for all but 15minutes when two other people showed up, took their pictures, and left. Don’t do that. Hang for awhile. It grows on you. RT. 211. Canyonlands descends from the surface of Colorado Plateau to river level inseries of steps– shear cliffs, then a broad flat spot. Rt 211 goes down to the first flatarea. The road ends about 20 miles away from where 1,100 ft. the drop starts. There isa visitor’s center. Summers here are very hot, well over 100°, and dry, with humidityas low as 2%. Carrying water with you is a must, and if you buy a cowboy hat, you willunderstand why they have wide brims-- shade on your face and neck all the time. There are several scenic trails of varying length, some are signed nature trailsexplaining the geology and plant life of the park. All are about equally interesting, withmore variety than you would first think. There is a trail to the confluence of the Green andColorado Rivers. The view down here looks like the setting for any classic Hollywood western you ever saw. Be sure to stop at Newspaper Rock State Park on the way down. Newspaper Rock is a shallowcave in the side of the cliff whose walls are covered with a fine collection of prehistoricIndian petroglyphs. Accessible only by 4-wheel drive vehicles from UT Rt 95 or Rt-24, the Maze District lieswest of the Green River. This is one of the most remote spots in the country, abewilderment of weird rock shapes. You can rent 4-wheelers or take guided tours fromnearby towns, nearby being a very relative term because there is nowhere that isnearby.In addition to visiting everything reachable by car and taking all the shorter hikes in thepark, we also enjoyed the jet boat trip into Canyonlands on the Colorado River whichstarts just outside Moab where US 191 crosses the Colorado, and a small plane sightingtrip over Canyonlands from the Monticello, UT airport. There are also helicopter sightseeing flights from the airport(?) north of Moab on US 191.There are both day and night jet boat rides. During the summer, the Moab MusicFestival features dinner and concerts set in a natural amphitheater on the banks of theColorado with transportation by jet boat. Other amusements popular with those who like such things are, back country hiking, mountain biking, and 4-wheeler adventures. Dedicated 4-wheelers know Canyonlandsas home of the Elephant Hill Climb.One of the remarkable features of the canyons carved by the Green River is that each is sodifferent from the others that if you have seen one of them, you haven’t seen them all, or even thenext one in line. We can’t explain it, but we like Canyonlands better than the very differentGrand Canyon.It is tough to visit Canyonlands without a car (or 4-wheel drive vehicle). There are fairly regularbus tours that visit Canyonlands as part of a trip from Denver to Las Vegas, but these tours spendmost of their time around Moab at Arches National Park. Some skip Canyonlands altogether,others only visit the Island in the Sky. An easy quick visit to Canyonlands, using only the pavedroads, will take 2-3 days because of the distances involved, and there is more to do in theneighborhood. Arches National Park is just across the street. Ut Rt 126 running along the banksof the Colorado River at the foot of great red stone cliffs is a very scenic drive, as is the La SalMountain Loop road. Monument Valley is 2-3 hours south on scenic US 191, and MesaVerde National Park about 2 hours away. The $25 per car entrance fee includes both Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. There is aseparate $10 fee for Dead horse Point State Park.
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