My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Visit to Canyonlands, Part I: Getting There

I suffered either a blond fart or a senior moment, which cost me a visit to one part of what turned out to be my favorite stop on the way home, Canyonlands.

Canyonlands is divided into four sections by the Green and Colorado Rivers. The two most visited sections are Island in the Sky and The Needles. I saw signs for Canyonlands on the way to my BLM campsite on Hwy 313.  I was probably less than ten miles away when I decided to follow the directions on my GPS, even though they took me in the opposite direction for more than two hours, finally taking me south and west of Moab.  So I'll have to go back to see Island in the Sky.

But the Needles turned out to be my favorite stop of the places I visited in Utah: Dinosaur NP, Arches NP and Canyonlands. The only problem I had was that I really wanted an off road vehicle to be able to visit even more of it.  I was limited to a 5 mile auto tour and some hikes.

But I accidently gave myself a lovely treat when I missed the first road to the park and ended up taking a much more indirect and interesting route through  part of the  Manti-La Sal National Forest.  As soon as I left the town of Monticello, I started a rapid climb. The road was so steep, I set my GPS to tell me the altitude. My altimeter told me I was climbing about four feet per second from an altitude of about 6000 feet to almost 9000 feet.  The trees and shrubs were turning colors in great swatches of golds and reds, within a matrix of dark green conifers. I had to stop a lot just to take the magnificent views in.

Then I came through a pass and started back down.  I stopped at an overlook and saw Canyonlands below me with awesome rock formations (small mountains) of various shapes and colors below me.  I wound back down another twisting road that gave me closer and closer views of Canyonlands.

Then I turned onto a smaller road that went  through an awesome canyon with gorgeous slick rock and magnificent trees in bright fall colors. The road was narrow with few places to pull off.  I was reduced to taking pictures through the windshield,  a very bad practice taught to me my friend, Bob.

When I got to the entrance to Canyonlands, I asked the Ranger if there were any campsites left. She told me I could have the handicapped site since I would be the last camper.

To be continued.