This episode is going to be all about the National Parks in Utah.
Before I left my motel in Moab, Utah I went to do a bit more grocery shopping and filled up my car with petrol. Oh and I bought a hat too. All preparation to go and see an amazing National Park: Arches. At the entrance I bought a National Parks Pass (the official name: America The Beautiful), since I’m going to see more national parks and this will save me some money. After a few short photo stops and a little walk around the Balanced Rock (I can’t believe it doesn’t fall off!), I went to do the trail to the Delicate Arch. The hike was in total about 5 km to the Arch and back. The walk was up over paths and slick rock and in the sun shine quite hot, but very much worth it! It was great to see the famous arch that looks like it is about to break in two. And of course stand underneath it! There were not too many tourists hanging around, so there was time and space to take a photo underneath the Arch without any other people in it. Great! On the walk back I noticed a couple standing a little higher up and looking through a hole in the rock to the Delicate Arch. I walked up there as well and got to chat with them for a bit. Christa and Keith from Salt Lake City were in the South of Utah to celebrate their 28th wedding anniversary, so I congratulated them. They were of course curious where my accent was from, so I told them about this trip I am making. They wanted to continue the walk to the car, so we wished each other a good day. But of course I had to walk in same direction to my car, so I walked a little behind them while taking photos left and right. Then they turn around and offered me a place to stay in Salt Lake City, for when I’m there. So nice of them! I then still had to introduce myself. Haha! I got their phone number and may take them up on that offer if I decide to go to Salt Lake City. As we got to the cars we really said goodbye. Then I drove over to Devils Garden Trail Head for the long walking trail there, about 12 km long in total. Some parts were absolutely stunning, others a bit scary since I had to walk over a ‘fin’ (a long ridge without anything to stop you from falling off either side).The last part, after coming down through the valley of the fins I didn’t see anyone, so I started to worry a little bit that I had taken a wrong turn somewhere. But then a blue bird ‘showed’ me the way by flying in front of me, stopping here and there. I felt that I was on the right path. It’s beautiful to feel so one with nature. After the Devils Garden I drove back towards the entrance with a short stop at the Windows. Totally tired after the whole day of hiking I came back at my motel room.
Dead Horse Point and Canyonlands
The following day I went from Moab to Dead Horse Point. A stunning piece of canyon in the shape of a peninsula with the Colorado wrapped around it. The place was named like that because the cowboys used it to keep catched wild horses, closing off the narrow piece of land and picked out the horses they wanted to have. For an unknown reason they left the other horses there without any water, only a few hundred meter above the river, and the horses died there. After that view I went on to Canyonlands, another interesting landscape called Island in the Sky. This land is only connected to the rest of the land with a road-wide strip. Nature will keep on taking rock away from the sides, so over time, it really will be an Island, cut off from the land. Driving on the top of the Island you don’t really see that much, it is all flat. But when you get to the view points on the sides, you see the mighty canyons surrounding it. Then I drove back to Moab and got a coffee to go at a very nice place (Moab Coffee Roasters), run by an older, hippie-couple. They were maybe not the fastest, but very friendly and had delicious coffee and a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie for me. I kept on driving south after that to go to Natural Bridges National Monument. I wished I had more time for it, since there are some beautiful hikes to do between the three main bridges of the park. But… I had to get going, it was still a long way to my motel for the night, the Aquarius Inn in Bicknell. And what I didn’t realize is that there is so much ‘Open Range’ in Utah… Which means that cows can graze pretty much everywhere… And of course also want to check on that greener grass on the other side of the road… Also after the sun has come down… I had to slow down once for a cow who was crossing the road, not very impressed with my hooting at her. And once I had to slam on the brakes and make a full stop 1 meter away from a group of cows crossing the road… OMG, I never was more relieved to be in my motel room!
Capitol Reef National Park
After the stressful drive of the night before I decided to take it easy the following day. I only had one National Park to see, Capitol Reef, which was very close to Bicknell, so no need to rush. I first drove through the park on the highway to get to the Natural Bridge point and went for a little hike there. It was very beautiful and the hike was uphill, but not too long. Then I made my way over to the visitor center, with short stops at petroglyphs (rock art from Native Americans) and an old settler’s school. Then I had some coffee and delicious apple pie at a home stead in the park, which I enjoyed in the sun shine. The weather was great that day, sunny and a little bit of a fresh breeze. I hiked at the Grand Wash and a path to Pioneers Register and Tanks, both through beautiful narrow canyons. After all that hiking I went back to the motel, where I had to do some laundry. As I walked from the laundry room back to my room, I twisted my ankle slightly and got a bad scrape on the side of my foot… Funny actually! After all that walking on loose rocks and slippery slick stone I twist my ankle doing the laundry… Me so klutzy!
From Bicknell I drove to Escalante to Maria and Steve, the aunt and uncle of my brother-in-law, who live and work in the States. They were both at ‘home’: their trailer, that is going to be parked in Escalante for at least this summer and maybe longer. I catched up with them and had a cup of coffee and a sandwich for lunch. Then Steve had to go to a work meeting, and Maria and I went for a hike in Devil’s Garden in Grand Staircase – Escalante National Park. Maria works in this kind of parks so we just wandered around over the huge stones and carvings. It was beautiful and again so amazing to see how nature created all of this. Like why do those rocks stay, while the rest around it is all sand? Just stunning. Then we went back to the trailer for a wine a relaxed in the sun, waiting for Steve, and then we left with the three of us to friends of them, Amy and Dean and their 2 daughters Marly and Hailey. It was a bit of a drive to get to their house and not easy to find. They are building a new house in the mountains near Boulder, Utah. When we found it, the BBQ was on and there was a fire going on in the outdoors fireplace (the house isn’t finished yet). The girls wanted to show us their favorite place: the roof, so we all went up to see the amazing views. The house was also wonderfully designed with all sustainable materials and based on the sunlight in winter and summer they try to make the most out of heating and cooling. It was a bit windy on the roof though and also next to the BBQ, so we decided to go sit inside to eat the grilled beef and fish. It was a fun evening.
After sleeping in the trailer I left the following day to Bryce Canyon and did the scenic road there. I stopped at a couple of lookouts and took some photos. In Bryce the valleys are covered with so called hoodoo’s, large pillars of stone that remained after the rest of the rock has eroded. Unfortunately there was still quite a bit of snow, so I couldn’t hike much at the park, but the views from the lookout points, were also very spectacular. It did smell amazing in the park, with all the fresh pine trees. Then I drove on for about 2,5 hours to get to Zion National Park and found a motel in Springdale, just outside of Zion.
Zion National Park
I had a breakfast at the motel and then went into the park. Funnily enough it was the same guy at the entrance as the day before and he recognized me. ‘I never forget a beautiful woman…’ Hihi! Then I drove to Weeping Rock, where I started the Observation Point trail, a 4 mile-walk to the top and then same way back again. First a steady climb, then through some amazingly colored canyons, followed by another climb, and then over the east rim walk and finally I arrived at Observation Point. From there I had great views over the canyon of Zion. I had lunch there, before I turned around and walked back down again. After drinking another bottle of water in the car I went to the end of the park, to the Temple of Sinawava, where a river-walk starts, from where you can continue into the amazing Narrows. Unfortunately the water was way too cold to walk through without a drysuit, so I couldn’t continue all the way to the Narrows. I finished this great day with another short walk to the Lower Emerald Pools, with some small waterfalls.
And after all those beautiful National Parks in Utah I went to Lake Tahoe and right now I am enjoying a great road trip in California with my friend Laura. Those stories will follow soon!
Lots of love,