Canyonlands National Park has three sections. The other day we were at the Island in the Sky section, named because it is a high mesa looking down on the canyons. Another section is called The Maze and is only accessible if you are willing to hike to it. The section we went to today is called The Needles for all the spires that sprout up. To get there we had to drive 30 miles south on the highway and then 35 miles on a smaller highway to get to the park.
The Chesler Park Trail goes to a lookout over a wide meadow surrounded by needles. It is rated at strenuous and is the first trail this year that, due to several factors, beat us. We didn’t finish it.
We don’t get up early and by the time we did the 1.5 hour drive to the park, stopped at the visitor’s center and then drove the dirt road to the trailhead is was 11:30 and it was already hot. The high today for Moab as 32C and it felt hotter here. The trail is very exposed to the sun, there was no wind and there was a lot of climbing.
Just outside of town we saw an example of how not to drive a rental RV. I don’t know anything about the condition of the people but it looked pretty bad.
The drive down the highway was nice.
Then we turned off onto the park highway to more wide open sagebrush country.
Then we drove beside some high mesas. I will include some pictures from morning and afternoon depending on which light was better. The afternoon light was quite amazing.
Once we got in the park there was a viewpoint for Wooden Shoe Arch.
After the visitors center we headed down the very twisty dirt road to the trailhead.
The parking lot was very busy but this trailhead serves for a bunch of quite long trails. We didn’t see nearly as many people as I thought we would on the trail.
We first had to climb out out of the valley from the road. These steps were the first of several interesting narrow spots.
Then out to bake in the sun.
This section had lots of huge mushroom shaped stones.
The one below was massive. I am sure twenty people could have sat around the bottom in the shade.
We thought these stones were laughing at us.
And this one was giving us the evil eye.
We stopped at this great, shady and cool overhang for lunch.
The first of several panoramas for our lunchtime view.
Back out in the open to eventually cross that next wall of spires.
First up a narrow slot they had cut in the rock.
Out into another open area and another panorama. Scroll right
And on the far side a really narrow slot to go through.
On the way back the light was more overhead.
We then climbed down steeply, most via stones set a steps, to a wash.
We then had to climb up the other side.
A really giant mushroom.
Part way up, Jennie decided she had had enough. By now we had gone around 4 of the 5 km to the viewpoint. Jennie found a nice cool spot and and I went on to see what was over the top of the current hill.
I got to the middle of another wide open area and stood where these two people are to take a panorama.
Because of the varying height of the horizon it zigzags a bit but it looked even weirder if I tried to fill it in with photoshop.
I stopped here partly because I stupidly left the water back with Jennie and mainly because I was tired. The couple in the previous picture made it to the viewpoint which is at the top of the middle notch below.
I checked out some other people’s blogs tonight and I don’t think the view was much better than what we had already seen, at least that is what I tell myself.
So back I went to Jennie. After I rested a bit, we continued back. We had a lot of rest stops and a very long one in that nice cool spot where we had had lunch.
We got back to car about 3:45 pm so it took us about 4 1/2 hours to do 9 km.
We had taken about 2 litres of water with us but that was not enough. We had more water in the car and drank a lot of it.
We then drove to the end of the park road to a scenic overlook but first we could see the Island In the Sky section off in the distance.
The overlook had more weirdly shaped rocks.
Then we headed home.
It was a tough day but the hike did have many interesting things to see so it was worth it.