Moab, Utah

June 27-28, 2006

Three National Parks in 36 hours: after Mesa Verde, we motored northwest to Moab, Utah, and the next day, took in Arches and Canyonlands. Moab is HOT. A mecca for outdoorsy types who like being hot: bicycling, hiking, climbing, canyoneering, rafting, horsing, extreme sporting, and so on. Highly recommend the motel in Moab, the Big Horn Lodge. Very comfortable rooms with walls of warm knotty pine - the only problem is that the rooms are very dark, due to black tinted windows, but after a day in Moab's heat, I came to appreciate the wisdom of this.

There are so many scenery pictures that I fear my powers of captioning will be strained. So many of these will have no caption ... just imagine you are meandering through the two national parks. Arches is about 10 minutes north of Moab, and Canyonlands is about a half hour or forty minutes from Moab, along a twisty road that takes you into the mysterious canyons.

  1. A monolith on the road to Moab.

  2. The men consult the map in our motel.

  3. We drove 12 miles up a road along the Colorado river to have dinner at a lodge stuck way out there - the Red Cliffs Lodge,

  4. It was another beautifully clear day - generally, we had fabulous luck with the weather the whole two weeks.

  5. I am really not sure what the teepees are doing there.

  6. The view from the porch at Red Cliffs Lodge is stunning (as you'll see from the next interminable batch of pictures ...)

  7. That is the Colorado River. Rafting looks tame this year - there's been a drought for a few years.

  8. Take it from me, the light and the views were much better than in these pictures.

  9. We had dinner at a table on the porch. It wasn't crowded, and dinner was a hearty buffet (surprisingly good). This place is also a winery, and their house wines are great. The big event of the day was the "Primal Quest", an unreal extreme sport contest that brings athletes from all over the world and has a $100,000 purse for 1st prize. The contestants are unleashed on the wildnerness, where they go on horseback, mountain bike, do some canyoneering and climbing, then struggle on foot, then raft, then ... and so on for 10 days or so, day and night. They group in teams of four, two women and two men, (or maybe you can get away with only one member of the weaker sex), and the entire team has to finish to qualify. I thought this was all fascinating, but, learned over the course of the next day that it was also controversial with the locals, due to the environmental impacts that the race organizers and participants are not sensitive to. Anyway, for info on Primal Quest, see They put in that "eco" on purpose ... and claim they are working with the "Leave No Trace" people ... but I got the distinct impression this did not impress the locals, who basically ignored the whole thing, or snubbed it.

  10. Many shots of sunset over the river follow ...

  11. I warned you it was many shots of sunset.

  12. The next day dawned bright hot and sunny, and we headed out to Arches National Park. These next few pictures might be scenery on the way to Arches - I couldn't swear to it now.

  13. Panorama

  14. Definitely in Arches now!

  15. "Tower of Babel" (left half) and "The Organ" (right half). Don't ask me why that's an organ.

  16. Crisp cool and dust-free, early in the day!

  17. These rocks are huge

  18. The Three Gossips

  19. Like extraterrestrials, littering the landscape, towering over the tiny cars

  20. Those rocks perched above look like they could topple over any minute - and in fact, periodically, rocks do move and shift in this park. The arches themselves are continually forming, a product of wind and water. See for info on the weathering and erosion and also human history of this part of the earth.

  21. These natural monuments are often too huge to capture in any single picture.

  22. A bit of green in the desert

  23. This is a famous one - named Balanced Rock, for obvious reasons. You do sort of wonder if it's going to choose THIS SECOND to fall over.

  24. This is probably the one they call Double Arches.

    And here's some info from a Park Service sign:

    How Arches Are Formed: 1) A series of uplifts and collapses caused severe cracking in the 300-foot (91-meter) layer of buried Entrada Sandstone.

    2) When overlying rock layers eroded away, the Entrada was exposed to weathering. Cracks slowly widened and parallel rock walls, called fins, were formed.

    3) Rainwater continually dissolves the natural cement that holds sandstone together. This process combines with the pressure from water freezing in tiny cracks and causes the sandstone to flake and crumble. Eventualy, enough rock falls out of a fins that an opening is formed.

    4)These holes continue to erode, and in time, the same forces of weathering that created arches will destroy them.

  25. There are literally thousands of arches - the big ones are noticeable, but once you know what to look for, you can spot the smaller ones all over the place.

  26. Gerhard, Dad and I set out to climb towards Delicate Arch, perhaps one of the most famous landmarks. If you've seen pictures of Arches, chances are you've seen a picture of Delicate Arch. It wasn't a long walk up to the Delicate Arch lookout, but it was a hot day ...

  27. ... so Dad and I sensibly decided to take up a post on an inviting-looking slab of rock, and let Gerhard do the scrambling (off-trail, as it turned out).

  28. The Delicate Arch environs.

  29. That's Gerhard, off the right - look for the white shirt

  30. Later in the afternoon, we drove to Canyonlands, It's very different from Arches. For starters, you climb to a pretty good elevation, and peer down into enormous canyons. Arches feels like the same level as the land around. Canyonlands is also eerily deserted and quiet, as late in the day, there aren't many people up there (I think they said this national park is one of the least visited, partly due to its isolation, and partly due to how imposing it is, perhaps).

  31. It looks impossibly dry and rugged, and it's hard to believe they ranched cattle here until not that long ago.

  32. It was still hot, although the late afternoon shadows were lengthening

  33. Our motel was smack dab against a huge red rock mountain.

  34. I went jogging the morning we left, and stumbled across "Marianne's Bakery", so of course I suggested we have breakfast there on our way out of town! Monster cinnamon rolls were enjoyed by Dad and Gerhard. I think I had the croissant-with-egg-and-cheese, and probably Mom had that too. Great bakery - if you're in Moab, check it out! It's on a side street off the main drag. A good cafe that is also an internet cafe on the main drag: Red Rock Bakery & Net Cafe.

Marianne Mueller
Last modified: July 15, 2006