A Great Trip through Utah's Canyon Country -- June 2009!

Appreciating Red Rock Canyons

We decided we needed a Mini vacation so motored to Moab and set up the tent next to the Colorado River. Sun-up we headed to Canyonlands NP 'Island In the Sky' and snagged a first come first serve campsite as people were leaving. Then headed to a ranger talk/walk on native plants - he even had some Pinon nuts for us to taste while explaining how to peel them. Next we headed to the overlook at the end of the road for a geology talk while contemplating the enormity of the Canyonlands. An afternoon hike with a little rain shower, a good dinner at camp, and a picturesque sunset wrapped up the day.

We started the day with sunrise at Mesa Arch but were rewarded with only butt shots of a camera club. There was no sunrise anyways and we drove over to Arches NP to have breakfast at Balance Rock. We found the rest of the camera convention at the next arches, inspiring us to look for interesting pictures. We then did a long hike where we managed to get away from the crowds and find some solitude. We couldn't leave without seeing Delicate Arch (other than on the Utah license plates) even though we weren't sure we had another 3 mile hike in us but we were glad we bucked up and made the climb. Twelve miles of hiking deserved an ice-cream break at Milts in Moab before we went back to our camp, dinner and sunset at Canyonlands.

Another early morning had us on the road to the south side of the park, taking pictures of Newspaper Rock before the Needles Visitor Center was even open at 8:00 AM. We snagged a campsite at 8:30 AM as someone left and had breakfast before setting up the tent. We headed off for an 11-mile hike to the slot canyons - very rewarding. Saw a rattlesnake in a slot canyon - glad he had room to slither under a rock - Pam went by fast and Henry lingered to take a close-up photo. We enjoyed the sunset from our private rock balcony as well as our coffee there again in the morning - fabulous view of the Needles - love having the little chairs to make yourself comfortable where-ever. Our second full day here we did some shorter hikes - much more leisurely day.

We broke camp early and headed to Natural Bridges NM - we were too tired to hike much but went down several trails to get closer views of the bridges. We hung out waiting for the big puffy clouds to be framed just so with the bridge. Interesting the difference between the geology of the arches (primarily sandstone, formed by water seeping/wind erosion) and the bridges (formed by rivers eroding through the rock). We had planned to spend the night and do some stargazing but finished our loop by lunch so had a picnic and drove on to Hovenweep NM. This is such a fascinating place. We also toured the Lowry Pueblo, which is part of the Canyon of the Ancients NM in BLM land. We decided to have dinner in Cortez and camp at Mesa Verde NP, since sites were still available. We enjoyed a ranger talk but the campground was packed - they had less than 200 SF per tent so only thing separating us from our neighbors was a bush. It was quiet so we were glad for that - we broke camp early and had breakfast in the picnic area near the visitor center where we could have some solitude. Just nice to reconnect with the park, see some of our favorite sights again, and enjoy the far views.

We headed for Great Sand Dune NP and were disappointed the campsites were full when we got there. We couldn't get up the Zapata Falls road to another campground...We drove on to Walsenburg and were debating to stay in the state park but went for a spicy Mexican dinner before motoring north on I-25 to our bed and a hot shower - we realized we had reached our limit!

Awesome trip but book ahead for campsites or be there ready to get them by 9 AM.

Utah's Canyon CountryUtah's Canyon Country
The Narrows - Canyonlands NP (Needles)
Utah's Canyon Country Area Images - Click on an image to view large version

'Island in the Sky' Canyonlands NP

'Island in the Sky' Canyonlands NP

Pam Enjoying Rim Hike - 'Island in the Sky' Canyonlands NP

Sunset Green River Overlook - 'Island in the Sky' Canyonlands NP

Landscape Arch - Arches NP

Delicate Arch - Arches NP

Balance Rock - Arches NP

Devils Garden Trail - Arches NP

Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs

Fresh Coffee - Squaw Flat Campground - 'Needles' Canyonlands NP

Hiking the Joint Trail - 'Needles' Canyonlands NP

Rattlesnake on Joint Trail Hike - 'Needles' Canyonlands NP

Sipapu Bridge - Bridges NM

Owachomo Bridge - Bridges NM

Owachomo Bridge - Bridges NM

Hovenweep Castle Ruins - Hovenweep NM


Itinerary Highlights.

Fun things to do.

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
7 June 2009 8 9 10 11 12 13
Pick-Up Rental Car

Denver, CO

Lunch Grand Junction

Arches NP Visitor Center

Moab, UT

Camp Granstaff Campground on Colorado River

Canyonlands NP (Island In The Sky)

8-am Canyonlands Island In The Sky Visitor Center

10:30 Ranger Talk On Plants

11:30 Ranger Talk On Geology

Afternoon Hikes

Canyonlands NP, UT

Willow Flat Campground Site #8

Canyonlands NP (Island In The Sky)

Sunrise (Not) Mesa Arch

Arches NP Hikes:Windows

Double O

Devils Garden

Delicate Arch

Malt & Shake @ Milt's Stop and Eat

Canyonlands NP, UT

Willow Flat Campground Site #8

Canyonlands NP (Needles)

2 ½ Hour Drive to 'Needles'

Visitor Center @ 8-am, setup camp

Hike 11 mile Joint Trail

Canyonlands NP, UT

Campground Site #9

Canyonlands NP (Needles)

Explore All Overlooks

Shorter Hikes

Canyonlands NP, UT

Campground Site #9

14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Natural Bridges NM

Hovenweep NM

Lowry Pueblo NM

Mesa Verde NP

Mesa Verde NP, CO


Mesa Verde NP:Chapin Mesa

Farview Site


Dinner @ Corine's Mexican Food—Walsenburg

Home @ 11-pm

Denver, CO

Happy Travels,

Pam and Henry