Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Canyonlands Overview

Sitting in a reclining chair, overlooking an amazing view while typing this, no internet connection so will have to be posted at a later date.
We drove out to Canyonlands N.P. a little over a week ago.
 We thought we were much further away from the park than we actually were. Canyonlands is divided into 3 districts; The Needles~South, The Maze~West and Island in the Sky~North, but there are only 2 entrances; The Needles and Island in the Sky. When I put Canyonlands into the GPS, four different locations came up, I wasn't sure which one to pick, so I picked the closest one from Moab; 32 miles away which turned out to be Island in the Sky. We were planning on doing much more driving so this was an unexpected surprise. We drove into the park, taking a map at the entrance gate but also stopping in at the Visitor's Center to ask some questions about camping and to buy a sticker for our board. The Visitor's Center has become one of my main favorite stops...the Rangers are super helpful in giving you great information about the park and the surrounding areas. I talked to a ranger for about 20 minutes about camping in the park, primitive camping, points not to miss, etc. The things I learned about this park that stood out to me were; this park is HUGE at 336,000 acres, the road through the park does not go all the way through to the South entrance (The Needles) due to a canyon running through the middle of it, for backcountry/primitive camping they book up about 4 months in advance and requires a permit, and it can take days on most of these 4wd roads to complete 100 miles. After leaving the Visitor's Center, we talked about camping in the campground for a couple of nights, it was only $10 a night and would save us the gas money, coming and going every day, back to wherever we could find BLM camping. We decided to drive through the campground and see if there were any open spots. We were surprised at how small the campground was, due to how big the park is and since it was a Saturday, it was already full...BLM here we come! We stopped back by the Visitor's Center to ask them about BLM camping around the area and I actually got some really good answers. The map that we got from the BLM office was the same map the Ranger gave me, but also accompanied it with a Utah map! Now, we were getting somewhere! He pointed out some places that we just camped at a few nights ago, then some places closer like Gemini Bridges Rd. and Mineral Bottom Rd (About 6-8 miles away from entrance of the park). *Sidenote: We took Gemini Bridges Rd. yesterday on the dirt bike and it is a really rough road with only 6 campsites, it is free but good luck getting up or down that road. It would be a fun 4x4 drive in a Jeep or ATV but I would never bring my Joon van down that road, especially with the trailer on it.* The Ranger had told me where to find Mineral Bottom Rd., which he said was the 1st left out of the park....no it's not. We turned down 2 different roads, that said No Camping, then turned down another road that had a sign that said NO CAMPING in big letters, then in really small print beneath it said, for the next 1/2 mile... gotta read that fine print! We drove down it, calculating how far we were going and found a couple of okay spots but then Jamie wanted to keep on looking further down. I was a bit hesitant due to the looks of the road but I trust him and his handling of the van so, I give in every time. We ended up down this road that turned into mostly rock with some trees and cactus, it was an amazing spot, so we drove down the scary road and are parked here now. 
Our view
We have views of the Canyon that is separating us from the park and we're only 4-5 miles from the entrance, not too shabby! 
 We've been here about a week now and went into the park last night for the first time since arriving here. 
 It was an interesting drive on the dirt bike due to a few things. First off, it rained here for a good 3 days, due to all of the storms around the U.S., but this wasn't your average rain...we had a frickin' deluge, which we saw last night pretty much washed out the scary road we came in on, now making it really scary!
Doesn't look too bad in the picture!
 Jamie is out on the dirt bike right now, as I write this, to see if the sand/mud has packed down hard enough for us to be able to get out. The road that was at a slight angle when we came in, is at an extreme angle now and we just don't want to get stuck sliding down into the muddy ravine. So, he's checking it out and if we have to stay for a few more days, then we will for safety, but the weather is calling for rain for the next 3 days, so we'll have to see! The other interesting thing about that ride last night was, even with what we thought was a couple of hours of sunlight, we pretty much rode into the park, drove about 15 miles and had to turn around due to the sun dropping super quick all of a sudden and it getting pretty darn chilly. We got back to the van and it was dark...so weird! So tonight we plan to go in much earlier than 7 p.m.! 

Making up shit on how Canyons are formed
From what I gather, this part of the park doesn't have many big mile hikes but there are a lot of observation and viewing points. 
We decided we would go back into the park the following day, we geared up around 5 p.m., got on the bike and headed toward the entrance, all the while seeing gigantic rain clouds and black skies forming. Before we even got to the main road, we both decided it would be best to turn around right now, pack up the van and get out of our spot before another storm hit. I had heard on the radio (since we have no wifi) that it was supposed to rain for 3-4 days, meaning that would keep us at that spot for at least another week, so the road could dry out enough for us to drive on and get out. Since we were ready to leave, we went back to the van and packed everything in record time...45 minutes!
We were a little worried about a few spots in the road, due to the last rain washing out half the road....but we were determined to not hurt the van and at least get on more solid ground for the night.
We did it, while I filmed, Jamie drove. We made it past all of the tough and scary spots and stopped to sleep for the night on the same road but much more solid if it did rain that night....which it did (as well as the next 5 days)! 
If you want to see the video of us getting out of that road, click the link here:

 The next day we went into the park for the last time and while the storm was building around us while we were there, we only got a few hard sprinkles. 
Island in the Sky ~ Potash Road
Grand View Point Overlook
The Orange Cliffs
 I'm sure this park has much more to offer than what we saw, but I guess we'll just have to come back to see what we missed at a later date.

If you are interested in seeing what Potash Road is like, Jamie did the ride on his dirt bike and you can see that video here:

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures!!!! It looks like it goes on FOREVER!!!!!! I want to go so bad!!!!! Enjoy!!!