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  • Writer's picturePaul Depperschmidt

Canyonlands National Park

The great thing about staying in Moab, Utah is its proximity to some of the best National Parks the US has to offer. It is possible to see Arches National Park and then stop in to see some of Canyonlands on the same day.

Canyonlands NP is really two different parks in one. There is the easily accessible area of Island in the Sky and the very remote areas in the rest of the park. The remote area is 4x4 country and is not easily accessible. It covers a large part of Utah and is 2-3 times the size of Arches. While there is one arch to see in Canyonlands the real attraction is the.... Canyons!

The white road is the only easily accessible area of Canyonlands

From the east crossing the Colorado River that will ultimately go through the Grand Canyon, the Mesas that create the Island in the Sky start to show.

The Island in the Sky part of the National Park is well named. There is a small road area that makes the Mesas accessible. The island is bordered by high cliffs. This made for a great grazing area for cattle as ranchers simply had to block off the road and the cattle were contained.

Block this road and the Island in the Sky area is cut off.
End of the road can be seen in the center of the picture.

One of the key attractions for Canyonlands is the Mesa Arch. As it turns out, while we were in Moab there was a flurry of excitement about a mysterious object found near the park. In the middle of nowhere a monolith was found in the desert. At the time the exact location was not well known.

But as it turns out, we took pictures that had the monolith in it. Who knows, the motivation for planting it could have been to see it from Mesa Arch. But it would require a bigger zoom that I had.

Location of the Monolith as seen through Mesa Arch.

A little further in to the park were the overlooks of the Maze. This is the desolate part of the park for those who truly want to get away from everything. In this area a traveler is completely on their own. No cell service to call for help.

Near the end of the road in to the park were some spectacular overlooks. The setting sun turned them in to some amazing panoramas.

Now that we have walked through the pictures it is time to confess that the entire trip driving and flying in Canyonlands we likely spent only 3 hours. We were focused on Arches but on our last day made a mad driving dash in to Canyonlands to see it. They are two very different parks. Arches is really a place to go see specific things where Canyonlands is all about the scenic vistas.

And we made it out of Moab just in time to run in to a serious snow storm heading south through Utah and western Colorado. This was not expected and a little interesting to drive through with the Circus. But we made it out OK and headed south to New Mexico.

Our posts are going to slow down for a while as we head to the Austin area for rest and refit. Karen requires knee surgery to repair her torn ACL and the physical therapy will have us staying put for 6-8 weeks. At the end of this we will be deciding what to see in the East. Destinations will continue to have beautiful areas to see, but in the East things turn more to what Man has created vs. Nature.

This is a planning map with the top 10 must see things in each state. Green means we have seen it. Yellow means we still have many things to see. Stay tuned!

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