We slept pretty well considering our room has the noisiest heater in Utah. The loud drone wouldn’t be too bad if it stayed on constantly, but it turns on and off regularly. Each time it starts up, it sounds like a small plane winding up for take-off. We slept through the racket until about 4am, then took our chances and turned the heater off. Despite the sub-zero temperatures outside, the room stayed reasonably warm.
We started the day with a hearty hotel breakfast. The kids were delighted to discover there were make-your-own waffle machines at the hotel breakfast buffet, along with bacon and lots of other goodies. It makes a real difference to get a good feed before hitting the National Parks.
The forecast clouds were delivered as promised. We are still getting used to such reliable weather forecasts… There are two main National Parks close to Moab – Arches and Canyonlands. We decided to visit the less popular Canyonlands park today. Canyonlands is a very large park and is divided into three sections by the rivers that run through it – the Colorado and Green Rivers. The section we visited was called “Islands in the Sky”. There is no way we could see it all in one day, but we had worked out a plan of attack to hopefully cover the highlights.
The “Island in the Sky” is a mesa (flat topped hill with steep sides) which is surrounded by huge canyons on three sides. It’s a bit like a long finger of land that sticks out into the most enormous canyon. Our first main stop was Mesa Arch, a short hike from the road. This viewpoint is spectacular as Mesa Arch is perched on the edge of a cliff with a huge canyon below and the La Sal Mountains as a backdrop. Our next stop was Green River overlook, which looked down another enormous canyon on the other side.
After a picnic in the car (too cold to picnic outside today, it never got above freezing due to lack of sun!), we headed to Grandview Point at the end of the “finger”. We did a two mile hike along the edge of the mesa. It is hard to describe how vast and beautiful the views were. Matt is convinced that it was more impressive than Grand Canyon. It was a very difficult place to capture on film, although Andy gave it a pretty good try. The trail was snowy and icy, but we are getting used to that now. We have been surprised how much snow there is here as the elevations are much lower, but I guess we are further north. The snow and ice provides endless entertainment for the kids. I think they could write a book of “101 things to do with snow and ice”! The hike warmed us up and was easily the highlight of Canyonlands.
On the way back to Moab we visited Dead Horse State Park. This little known park with an odd name has one impressive view of a horseshoe bend in the Colorado River. It’s claim to fame is as the film location where Thelma and Louise plunged their ’66 Thunderbird off the cliff (even though they were supposedly at Grand Canyon!). We hung around at the viewpoint for a long time, hoping for a good sunset but there was a bit much cloud. The kids and I did a couple of geocaches while Andy waited patiently with the camera.
We were all pretty chilled by the time we left, but warmed up thoroughly with a pasta and pizza dinner. Three of us had the most delicious lasagna (enormous American sized helpings!) and Matt had a giant pepperoni pizza. Tonight we may be brave and see if we can last the night with no heating in exchange for a peaceful night’s sleep.