Wednesday 22nd June
We left the campground in the forest quite early to drive to Cortez to try to get a good internet connection so we could phone Steve’s Mum at a reasonable time in the UK, on her 91st Birthday. We succeeded and had a really good chat. Unfortunately it was raining there while we were sweltering in Southern Colorado.
After uploading a few more photo’s to the album (don’t forget to take a look regularly). We continued our journey to “The Needles” which is the southern part of Canyonlands National Park. We stopped at the information center in Monticello just outside the park and spoke to the very helpful gentleman there who told us the best way to see the Needles. He also said we were welcome to fill up with water there because there were no facilities in the park. Apologizing profusely that they had no dumping facilities because when they built the center last year they ran out of money before they could build the “Dump”.
We arrived at “Squaw Flats Campground” and luckily took the last spot. Just settling down to prepare dinner and a Lady Ranger came by to invite us to her talk at 8pm. A bit of a rush but we just made it on time. It was very interesting all about Scorpions, Mountain Lions and all the other dangerous animals in the park. It turned out that as usual “Man” was the most dangerous.
Thursday 23rd June
We started quite early to drive along a very tight and windy dirt road which was supposed to be only for vehicles less than 21ft, but we are Europeans and only talk metric so couldn’t work that one out could we (grin), we started on our hike only to find that Steve’s Achilles Tendon was causing him trouble again. He didn’t need the crutches but it limited us to only a mile each way which was a shame. When we got back to the trail-head we found that we had taken the 4×4 trail instead of the hiking one. But it was fun as we had the opportunity of watching a couple of German guys in a hired 4×4 go over the most impossible terrain with 2 to 3 foot boulders. But the Hiking trail was five miles each way so we couldn’t have done it anyway. But we got a good view of Elephant rock and the needles in the distance and the snow on the mountains behind us. We decided as hiking was out we would make our way out of the park stopping at all the sights on the way which only involved fairly short walks which Steve could manage. One amazing point which we had heard about was “Newspaper Rock” which was a large flat rock in an overhang which was covered with a coating of “Desert Varnish” the dark staining which is caused by moisture running down the sand stone. Here over many millenia people had chipped away to produce drawings some very detailed and precise except the modern graffiti which some morons had defaced the mural with. It gave the impression of a giant notice board where messages were left perhaps about good hunting or whatever. The strangest was one which looked like a “Space Man” it was very dull so perhaps one of the first but it was about twenty feet up from the ground.
Onwards eventually to Moab visitor center where we found that the Arches campground was about twenty miles into the park and probably wouldn’t have any spaces, but along the Green River nearby the ureau of Land Management ground had about twenty campgrounds so as it was late we headed there and found the last pitch on the second one we passed. It was very nice but we discovered that we had no change to be able to put the correct amount into the envelope so had to walk round the site scrounging for change and finally found somebody who had $19 change in exchange for our $20 note so we could stay. Steve then spent the whole evening with ice packs and Voltorol trying to sort his heel out for walking the next day.
Friday 24th June
The Arches National Park was only about 15 minutes from our campground in the morning but the visitor center again said there was no room at the campground but we decided to drive the twenty miles in then if there was no room we could work our way out visiting the sites and go back to our campground the next day. But there were a couple of spaces so we paid our dues with the campground host and headed out to try a fairly strenuous hike but if Steve’s heel couldn’t take it, it was possible to shorten it. But amazingly the ice etc. had worked and he and Judy managed a very strenuous ten miles to see some of the most amazing sandstone arches which involved walking on the top of sandstone “Fins” just a couple of yards wide. The temperature was over 100deg F an both Judy and Steve ran out of water in their Camel-Bak’s about 500 yards from the end where thankfully there were water taps to fill up again. So a restful afternoon with more ice treatment and another very interesting Ranger talk this time about venomous creatures in the park, “the kids love it”.
Saturday 25th June
A leasurely start then some more very strenuous hiking to see first “Delicate Arch” the most photographed and the one that appears an most brochures and on the Utah car License Plates. The day was even hotter and to get to the arch required climbing up a 45deg slick rock slope over a mile long with no cover at all. The heat was coming from the sun and being reflected straight up again by the rock so the combined heat I am sure was well over the 100 degF, sorry to talk in Imperial measurement but we have had to get used to it here as the Americans do not do Metric. But we have bought an In-Out thermometer so we can see what the max and min is each day. Last night the low was 31degC (88F) and the max today was 44 degC (111F).
After that we worked our way out of the park stopping at many of the overlooks and hiking to see the “Window Arches” which is a collection of about twenty arches in one area. Some quite photogenic ones but many quite hidden with rocks behind them masking the view.
We visited the “Fiery Furnace” a rock formation which appears to glow in a certain light but we were not there at the best time so will just have to believe the brochure.
So after stopping at the visitor center to fill up everything we could with drinking water as we are consuming about a gallon each a day we left the park to camp by the river again. First remembering to get change for the envelope.
Sunday 26th June
There is a canyon walk across the road from the campground so we decided to get up at 6am to walk into “Negro Bill’s Canyon” to see the 6th biggest arch in the USA “Morning Glory Arch” The sign said 2½ miles each way and it was a really nice walk beside a cool bubbling river and having to ford the river back and forth on stepping stones about five times. But the arch when we reached it at the end of the canyon was enormous, over 200ft wide and about 90ft high. We arrived back at the campground at 10am so a quick drink and away for a long scenic drive to Dinosaur National Monument. We have decided to skip the 600 mile round trip to Denver and the Rocky Mountain National Monument because we are getting short of time and do not want to miss any of Yellowstone National Park. So another time perhaps.
After a beautiful drive along the Green River then over the mountains we arrived at the town of Dinosaur Colorado and found the Colorado welcome center at about 4:30, we were getting desperate for a “Dump Station” because the last few campgrounds have had no facilities and the nice ladies in the welcome center said there was one provided by the town just across the road, so we sorted out our tanks and took advantage of the free showers also provided for visitors use. The Welcome Center also has wifi which I am using now to send this so a really nice town who welcome visitors. Don’t forget to look at the picture gallery to see the pictures of the amazing rock formations in Arches National Park.