A long, hot day in Arches was immediately followed by a slightly-less-long and not-nearly-as-sweltering day in Canyonlands National Park. Forty minutes of driving a virtually empty road, with several hairpin curves along the way, led us to the gate of Canyonlands. Our route took us to Islands in the Sky, the area closest to Moab. After paying our admission fee ($25 per car), we ventured about twelve miles to the end of the road.
Grand Viewpoint Overlook
Grand viewpoint is, well, grand. At an elevation of over 6,000 feet, the views are impressive. We stopped at the overlook to take in the spectacular views of the canyon before heading out for our two-mile, mostly flat hike. The hike afforded us spectacular views at every turn. It was evident from the get-go that this is a far more impressive canyon than that other one that everyone seems to visit. (I’ve been to that one, too. I was fifteen. I had heat exhaustion. It wasn’t pretty.)
White Rim Overlook
From there, we headed back to the car and after a very short drive reached a picnic area and another hike. My friend had forgotten to bring socks, so the first hike did not go particularly well for her. She, and her bloody feet, wisely sat the next one out. The rest of us forged ahead with the White Rim Overlook hike. This is 1.8 miles of natural terrain with incredible views of the Colorado River. The scenery was fantastic. Our reward at the turn around point was outstanding photo ops. After a leisurely stroll back we enjoyed a bountiful picnic lunch of cheeses, fruits, crackers, and even kosher beef jerky. (Hey, I was also surprised – and delighted – that one can find kosher beef jerky in Moab.)
We enjoyed a leisurely lunch for as long as possible and were off to our next stop: Mesa Arch. I know, it’s an arch and we did that park the previous day. But this is a famous one, and it was at the Mesa Arch trail that we found the crowds, selfie sticks, and people that can’t figure out that perhaps other people would like photos, too.
You know, sometimes with all this nature, well, nature calls. Especially when you drink a lot of water (altitude and heat make it easy to get dehydrated). I drink loads of water, having learned my lesson the hard way at the Grand Canyon years ago. So, I have to pee a lot. (What? Too much information?) I saw the bathroom locations on maps for both parks. “Pit toilets”. I bought along wipes. (For sure, TMI.) Here’s the thing: they were fine. Each hole in the ground is in an individual stall, topped with a toilet, and comes complete with toilet paper and hand sanitizer. I could not have hoped for anything more.
Bottom line: A visit to Moab is well worth your while, and no visit is complete without a day at Arches and a day at Canyonlands. Or more.