Adventures in Utah: Canyonlands National Park

‘Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.’ —Rachel Carson

Of the all the ‘Mighty Five,’ Canyonlands was my favorite. Located outside of Moab, it is usually paired with Arches National Park. I went in the afternoon and it was quite crowded! You want to park at the Visitor’s Center. It’s most famous arch, Mesa Arch, is directly across the street. The perk is there are also picnic tables and bathrooms! But it fills up quickly. I was fortunate to find a spot immediately but just be warned and pay attention to reverse lights!

The park is a long road and then view points. There are hiking spots and it’s known for stargazing! Make sure you take the offshoots. The Island in the Sky was spectacular! There is a haze over much of the park, it’s a combination of sand and agricultural soil brought up by wind. The views are still stunning and the haze provided sort of an etherial quality. While I did not in these photos due to mass distortion of the sky but cranking up the ‘dehaze’ will show the scope of the canyons (one I did dehaze more than I usually would but your able to the area covered). Even with the haze, that wind and a touch of water could create such beauty, there are just no words. There was also no one there. I saw two people in my hour or so in this section. Make sure you explore the rock formations, including The Whale.

Mesa Arch is the most famous and an easy hike. The views are spectacular and, while crowded, everyone is very polite to allow you to get your shots. Be careful, as there is no rail and a straight drop. My selfie is as close as I got but, ironically, the ledge made me feel really close to my mom. We used to go to the Grand Canyon when I was a kid. I have the best memories of our road trips there and my mom trying to get us to take a donkey down to the bottom. As I was walking towards the arch, I recalled a photo my mom made us take. The four of us, sitting on the ledge with our feet dangling. It was an optical illusion as there was a ledge below but Canyonlands reminded me of that moment. I text my dad this and we both laughed. I am not as brave as she was around ledges but maybe one day. That I didn’t hyperventilate was the best I could do. She’s been gone a long time and I have so many incredible memories with my dad, a lifetime’s worth, but it’s nice to have a distinct memory at that moment when she was there too. A family of four.

Canyonlands was stunning and completely different from Arches (my next post). My cousins were going to be driving through and mentioned they were going to do a drive by through Arches. I recommended they do Canyonlands instead. They did and loved it so much, camped there that night! Moab is a great base and about 45 minutes from Canyonlands. Yes, Arches is closer but please, if you listen to me no other time, do not miss coming here. One of my all time favorite spots and I cannot wait to go back!

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