You could taste the excitement in the air as Mark and I left the Navajo Rest Stop. None of the three of us had ever been to Utah, and Ares is a very well traveled dog! We started toward Monument Valley. It was a great drive through the Reservation, seeing all the amazing natural beauty of the land while we talked about colonialism and how terrible we treated native peoples. As two white cis-gender straight people we have had very privileged lives. We both strive to use that privilege to bring equality and equity to everyone. Simply said- to make the world a better place.
Monument Valley & Canyonlands NP
We stopped for some amazing views of Monument Valley and I met a res dog that I named Reggy and I wanted to take him home with me. After leaving my beloved best friend Reggy behind to beg from other people in the visitors center parking lot we moved forwards to Canyonlands National Park! Mark, Ares and I headed into the Needles District of Canyonlands NP. We chatted with a ranger at the VC about things to do for the afternoon and she told us about the bad weather about to set in.
We took the paved scenic drive and attempted to attend the campfire program, but it was canceled due to weather. So we headed to a private campsite and gas station that was on the way out of the park. They set the price of gas at 10$ a gal so we decided to risk it and drive the 74 miles to town, with 100 miles left in our tank. We made it just fine and paid 4.50$ a gal.
We spent the night at Kane Rest Area, which was stunning! It had amazing views of the rocks and natural beauty. It also had a large and lit up temple right on the way. It was a very windy night, but we did just fine in our metal box on rubber boots.
In the morning we had coffee and breakfast, grabbed all of our winter gear, and headed to the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands NP. It snowed! Our first hike was to the Mesa Arch. We met a nice couple on the hike and took a few photos of each other. It was a really neat arch to see in the snowy weather! The hike was short but very slippery and iced over. After we returned from Mesa Arch we headed towards Upheaval Dome.
Thankfully the Upheaval Dome trail to the 2 overlooks was not nearly as treacherous. We got some amazing views! Then we moved the van to a level spot and made some butternut squash soup for lunch and to warm us up.
Our scenic drive through the park continued with a stop at the Green River Viewpoint. The sun was streaming through the clouds in a magnificent show for us. We enjoyed the view before heading down to the Grand View Point. We looked into the canyons and tried to spot jeeps on the 4×4 trail. Then we headed back up the road and out of the park to find a campsite for the evening and enjoy the town of Moab for a few days.
We spent the next few days in Moab enjoying the library crowded with Digital Nomads in zoom meetings and walking around the downtown area. We got groceries at the Moonflower Community Cooperative, which was a lovely little Co-op with great staff and a great selection of organic food. It was also one of the last places Gabi Petito was seen alive, arguing with her murderer. I took a moment of silence thinking about how our lifestyle can be very dangerous especially if you are battling domestic violence. I also reflected on all the missing native women and other POC who no one searches endlessly for as we all did Gabi. Every missing person is worth the search.
Our first day at Arches we stopped for a short time at the VC to grab a map and our stamp before heading up on the scenic drive. We stopped at the Courthouse Towers Viewpoint and admired the amazing rock formations. Then we went further to the Balanced Rock Trail and hiked around the spectacular sights.
You could see the snow capped mountains behind the red rocks of Arches and it was a spectacular view of the changing landscape that Moab has. Our next stop was the Salt Valley overlook. We gave Ares his dinner and looked over the blue and green salt tinted rocks. Then we did a short hike to see the Skyline Arch up close. At the end of the hike you could even see the rocks that had fallen to cause the Archway! On our way back to the van we could see the sunset turning the clouds red and purple. It was amazing and refreshing.
We spent a few more days in and out of Arches and Moab before finally saying goodbye and driving to a Cracker Barrel in Springville. Home of BYU! Or at least right next door.
Leaving Moab was a bit sad since we had felt very at home with so many nomads in the area. It really is an amazing National Park Gateway city. I would love to return in the summer to do even more of the national parks and meet more amazing locals.
Now we head further northwest!