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Moab, Utah

Canyonlands and Arches National Parks

rain 68 °F

Moab was only a short 2 1/2-hour drive from Mesa Verde National Park through rolling desert hills filled with giant red sandstone formations. The transition from green (verde) mesas to "dead" (muerto) mesas was almost immediate once we crossed into Utah. We checked into the Moab KOA mid-afternoon, picked up our rental car, and prepared ourselves for a three-night stay.

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Then we used that rental car to head into Moab for dinner (delicious blackened chicken and pasta in a tomato cream sauce) and a brew (or two!) at the Moab Brewery. Yumm!

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The next morning we headed out to the Needles Section of Canyonlands National Park, about 40 miles south of Moab. I know we keep saying this but, here is another AMAZING park. We hiked the Slickrock and Pothole Point trails and our jaws kept dropping! Then the kind folks at the visitors center recommended we also stop at the Canyon Rims Recreation Area on our way back to Moab to see more amazing views, and if we had any jaws left, they completely disappeared here!. We were so high up over the canyons that it almost felt like we were in a plane. Here are some pics:

Driving to the park

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Slickrock Trail

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Pothole Point Trail

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Canyon Rims

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Then, we realized it had been quite a while since we had Thai food after seeing a couple ads in a local guide so off we went to Arches Thai. The Panang Curry was the best we've ever had!

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On Monday, we hiked the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands and then went over to Arches National Park.

At Island in the Sky, we hiked the Mesa Arch trail, a very popular arch on the edge of a cliff. Then we did the Grand View hike, where we hiked along the canyon edge to end of the Island in the Sky mesa. Amazing panoramic views!

Island in the Sky

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The sole came off the bottom of one of my hiking boots just as we finished the last hike at Canyonlands (great timing!) so we headed back to the RV for a change of shoes, fed and walked the puppy dogs and ventured out again, this time to Arches National Park. We drove to several of the most popular formations: Park Avenue, the Gossips, Courthouse Towers, Balanced Rock, the Windows, Turret Arch, and finally I hiked up to the Upper viewpoint for the Delicate Arch while Maggie took a break at the Lower viewpoint. What a day!

Arches National Park

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We felt like we deserved one more night out after all that we experienced out in the desert. Who wants to cook after that?!? So we consulted the menu guide and chose McStiff's, a bar and grill in the center of Moab's Main St. district. We ordered the flank steak, cowboy beans, salad and local brews. Sounded like something good after a hard day in the wild west. However, we soon saw the waitress deliver an irresistible-looking, brick-oven, homemade pizza to a table near us and decided to change our order but were told it was too late. The beer was very good but the remainder of our order was very mediocre. Should have gotten the pizza. We were "McStiffed!"

Overall, Moab was the perfect place to camp while we visited these national parks, very central to everything, great restaurants (for the most part), and definitely an outdoor enthusiast's paradise. Off-roaders and dirt-cyclists everywhere.

The next morning we were supposed to head to Monument Valley at the border of Utah and Arizona for a night, before traveling to Zion National Park in southwest Utah. But the remnants of Hurricane Rosa from the Pacific Ocean were making their way into that area with flash flood warnings popping up everywhere. So we decided that we had seen enough desert "monuments" to not want to risk being stranded in the middle of nowhere or worse yet, washed away in a torrential flood just because we wanted to see the best monuments of them all. Bummer that one hurricane sent us out of South Carolina one day early only to be derailed by another hurricane in Utah. Yikes!

So we decided to take the northerly route to Zion via I-70 and I-15, stopping overnight at a KOA in Richfield, Utah. Turned out to be a beautiful route through giant desert reefs and many more canyons and "monuments". We stopped at one rest area for lunch right at the entrance to the San Rafael Reef. Very cool!

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Okay, I do have to comment on the speed limit signs on this route. No surprise that the speed limit through the desert of Utah is 80 mph but when I saw a curve approach and read the suggested lower speed limit sign I had to turn to Maggie and say "Hold on Honey, we've got a curve ahead and they're telling me to brake it down to 75! Yeehaw!".

Campground Review

The Moab KOA was in a great location just outside Moab, between Canyonlands south entrance and Arches. Because we had full hookups, we decided this was a great time to rent a car to drive to the two parks and enjoy eating out for a change. We used Arches Repair Center for our rental which turned out great because the owner was easy to get along with, picked us up and delivered us back to the KOA, had the best rate, and the car was new and clean. As has been our experience just about everywhere, the wifi at this KOA was nothing to write home about. But hey, we're camping!

Tomorrow, Zion.

Posted by travelswitz 09:35

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