Southwest Trip, Part III--Dead Horse Point, Canyonlands, and Arches

posted Jun 25, 2018, 7:54 PM by Paul Wagner

Day 16:  We started with a free breakfast at the hotel, followed by a drive to Moab’s airport to pick up Liz.  All according to plan. The Moab airport is so small that the parking lot is gravel.  We drove into Moab to buy groceries, and then went out to the campsite we had reserved at Dead Horse Point State Park.  Really nice place, with short hiking trails along the rim, decent campsites, and a nice visitors center.  But it did cost $35 a night, and no senior discount.  That made some of the other places we’d stayed in seem pretty great.  The weather was perfect today---we were about to get a heat wave—and in the afternoon I hiked out to Bighorn Point from the campground.  After dinner, we hiked part of the Rim Trail to an overlook and then drove to the end of DH Point to see the sunset.  This was a good first day with Liz.

Day 17:  Today our final destination was Arches NP, but we wanted to visit the Islands in the Sky part of Canyonlands first.  We stopped in the visitors center, and then took their advice to hike the Mesa Arch Trail, which was nice, and the Aztec Butte Trail, which was really cool.  They had described it as “a bit of a scramble at the end” and it was---M decided that she didn’t want to climb those last 100 yards on steep slickrock.  Liz and I got up the rock, and took a tour of the Butte---with views in all directions.  From there we stopped in to see the Ancient Puebloan granaries off the same trail, and then ate lunch out at the end of the road at the viewpoint.

In the afternoon we drove back into Moab for more ice and groceries, and then loved the drive in to Arches NP—our reserved campsite was in the Devil’s Garden at the end of the road.  Totally cool—except that it was getting very hot.  Oh well.  In the evening we drove out to the Delicate Arch viewpoint and eventually hiked up to see it about sunset.  Lovely.

Day 8:  Up at dawn (Liz was on East Coast time, so this suited her JUST fine) and after breakfast started with a visit to the Windows area of the park, where we hiked the short trails to Turret Arch, Double Arch, and the loop around the Windows themselves.  Legs doing fine—but lots and lots of people on this hike. 

 We went back to the campground and took a shot at the hike to Tapestry and Broken Arches---the trail leaves the campground and makes a loop.  We loved it.  Almost no people, and wonderful views.  Liz wanted to take us to lunch, and we liked the idea of air conditioned, so we went back into Moab for that.  We found a place to do laundry, and the local aquatic center offered showers as well.  Great! 

On the way back to camp we stopped and hiked the Sand Dune Arch Trail (really lovely, shady, and quiet) and then ate dinner in the campground.  After dinner, we hiked the Skyline Arch from the South side, and then drove to Fiery Furnace to take in the sunset—which turned out to be spectacular.  And today we hiked almost seven miles….hmmm.

Day 19: We were up at dawn again today, to hike the Devil’s Garden Trail.  We took the side trips to see Navajo and Partition Arch on the way in, and then loved Landscape Arch with its massive span and elegance.  From here the trail gets more ambitious, with some steep slickrock sections. 

M immediately decided after the first one that it wasn’t for her, but she encouraged Liz and me to continue, which we did.  And loved it.  The weather was spitting a bit of rain, and on top of the ridge it was blowing like stink, but we still loved it.  Hang on to your hat! At the end, we got a bit mixed up and hiked part of the trail beyond Double O Arch, but finally found our way back via the main trail.  I was not ready to tackle the primitive trail at that point.  On the way out, we also hiked to Pine Tree and Tunnel Arches…and then made out way over to the shady picnic area for lunch.  There was no shade at our nearby campsite.

After lunch M wanted to see Wolfe Ranch, so we drove there, and then to the visitors center to see the movie and chill in the AC.  It was really hot. After going into town for a late lunch we drove out along the Colorado River for a really spectacular drive---including stopping on the way back to town to chill our toes (and more) in the river.  That helped with the heat a lot. 

Day 20:  We didn’t have a campsite reserved for tonight, so we suggested heading over to our favorite spot, and camped in the Dixie Forest above Capitol Reef.  We got there at noon, then drove back into Capitol Reef to explore the goosenecks, and show Liz the scenic drive and Capitol Gorge.  And we also drove down Grand Wash as well.  We were thinking of hiking up Sulfur Creek, but my knee was really sore from the big miles of the previous day, and M wasn’t doing great either, so we passed on it. 

Instead, we drove up to our campsite and chilled in the cool forest weather. 

Day 21: Today we need to deliver Liz to the Moab airport in the afternoon.  We went out to breakfast in Torrey at the Capitol Inn Café---really good---and then drove down through Capitol Reef to visit Goblin Valley State Park.  The goblins were fun, but even more fun was hearing the kids in the park laughing as they played and explored this area.  You don’t generally hear kids having this much fun in a state park.  The campground here would do in a pinch, but there isn’t any shade---just desert, tables, and pit toilets. 

On the way back to Moab we decided to check out the petroglyphs at Sego Canyon, as recommended by our guide book:  The Grand Circle Tour.  What a treat.  These are not marked or signed in any way (unless you count the arrow on the side of the school building halfway through town) but they are remarkable!  Lots and lots of them, from different eras, and all in a really great state of conservation. 

Sadly we also noticed plenty of what we hoped was rather old graffiti on some of the walls—although one idiot not only scratched his name on the wall; he also pointed out that he was the son of another idiot who had scratched HIS name in the wall 30 years before.  So apparently they reproduce successfully.  Ugh.  We still had time to take Liz for a late lunch in Moab, stock up the fridge while she took a shower, and drop her off at the airport before we drove to Mesa Verde.  The drive was through a driving rainstorm for at least an hour, and the scenery was so beautiful.  Even though it rained pretty steadily throughout the night, we were really looking forward to tomorrow.

The full file of photos from this part are here;