Friday, October 7, 2011

Canyonlands yesterday, Natural Bridges today

At Canyonlands NP we began our trek at the Visitors Center, then heading out for the "Island in the Sky" area and beyond.  We always like to mix hikes/walks in with the sightseeing, and we weren't disappointed as we did the 40-50 mile park route.  There was Washer Woman Arch, Whale Rock and Potato Bottom.  Every view as one of my friends noted, is gorgeous...

  But best of all for us was the walk into Upheaval Dome, which is spectacular no matter what you think was the source of the crater--whether meteor or not, it's really beautiful to view!  We had hail, rain and pretty good wind as we hiked to the crater and arches in the area.   So many arches, so little time!

There are many ways to enjoy this area around's a HUGE  ATV/ORV/Hummer/mountain bike area...just driving through town you see sooo many tourists in one camp or the other, with the majority of the employment centering around the hotel/restaurant/touring businesses.  This was a particularly busy time for the area, as there is a 24-hour bike ride this weekend, a bike show just concluded in Las Vegas and the folks are headed here after and of course the bus-load of Japanese tourists. 

In keeping with the wild west image, there is also a homage to the old western movie--many a western was filmed in this area with the wonderful canyons and buttes in the background.  Lots of John Wayne movies were filmed here, with the usual claim to fame of "John Wayne stayed here"...prominent among the claims is the Apache Motel..still their most attractive feature!

We continued on to Natural Bridges National Monument Friday.  We were on Hwy 95 from Blanding to the NP-note:  this is a "scenic byway"...code:  narrow, winding and hilly, sometimes impassable roadway...not bad here but oh, what we had to look forward to!  We had snow skiffs on the side of the road and deer herds crossing, but we (okay, I was only the passenger-seat driver!) navigated it successfully.  Hail and rain pelted us periodically, but 45-ish degrees prevailed and we saw 3 beautiful arch-bridges as we went around the 9-mile loop.

On our way to our destination of Monument Valley, UT (just north of the AZ border), we (okay, I don't take any credit here!) decided to take the "shorter route" and went down 261 to Mexican his favor, it looked like an ok road on the trucker atlas we have...but after 6 or 7 miles we came up to a sign that said "in 23 miles, 10% downgrade, 5 mph switchbacks and gravel roads"...okay now I'm more concerned!  No problem my husband when we get to the area where this is indeed the situation, we unhook the car and I'm in the car with Casey Noodle and Jeff is in the beast as we head down this road....

Needless to say, we made it okay and not the worse for wear, except 2 or 3 years off my life!  I'm well past my demise at this rate! 

We're getting so excited to see Bill and Marcy and the g-kidlets in Tucson...won't be long now.  Off to Flagstaff tomorrow, but only after we spend a couple hours in the morning exploring the Navajo Reservation we're on now, at the Goudling's Park.

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