Canyonlands National Park (CNP) definitely lives up to its name. Peering out over the red sandstone characteristic of this part of Utah, we could see canyons within canyons (and sometimes, within canyons!) as far as the eye could see. Sometimes we'd catch a glimpse of the Colorado or Green rivers, each one responsible for this Triassic spectacle, but often the canyons were just too deep! (Think thousands of feet.)
This particular park is divided into four districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and an annex/rivers district. The majority of visitors spend their time at the Island in the Sky, ourselves included. CNP was park number 13 and sometimes after 6 weeks of travel, you need a vacation from your vacation. (Cue anticipated eye roll...) We spent five nights on the Island in the Sky relaxing happily on a mesa top at the only campground in this part of the park, where we were graced not only with beautiful views, but beautiful company as well - more on this in a second!
While at Canyonlands, we saw some of the must-see sights, and spent time in the fun nearby town of Moab! On the top of our list for Canyonlands, we have:
- Upheaval Dome: This is a geological anomaly wrapped in mystery. Upheaval Dome is a two-mile wide crater what was created either by a meteorite or a salt bubble. While scientists debate its origins, Ryan and I hiked to the two lookouts and were dazzled! The crater looks like primordial potter sculpted a perfectly round, red, clay bowl, but irregularly pinched up the middle, revealing dramatic grew, black and sand-colored strata in the Earth's crust.
- Mesa Arch at sunrise: Ryan woke up early one clear morning and hiked the short trail to Mesa Arch. This is a MUST for all visitors, and i regret not accompanying him. The arch and the reddish orange desert provide the perfect natural frame for this daily light now, and a gentle reminder of the natural world's inspiring beauty. The pictures say it all, really.
- Grand View Point: We went here twice. The second time was the more rewarding experience as we hiked the two-mile (round trip) trail along the canyon's rim. We passed along surreal looking pinnacles reminiscent of the hoodoos at Bryce Canyon, and picnicked at the trail's end enjoying views of canyons within canyons.
While there we also stopped at literally every lookout on the Island in the Sky (too many to count) and hiked the Murphy Point trail. All of which we would recommend just the same.
A few days later, we shared our site again. This time with a very sweet couple from Bern, Switzerland, Frances and Martin, who are on a six-week RV tour of the American West. Seasoned travelers they were, and they happily recounted their adventures living and travelling in Australia (for two years!), visiting Southeast Asia, and told us about their equally adventurous children. Frances and Martin, we hope your first time in the States continues to delight you - and maybe we'll see you in Switzerland!
Our vacation on the Island in the Sky came to a close and we soon were off to Arches National Park. I hope we come back to Canyonlands one day, there is much more to explore!