Westward We Go: Canyonlands – Island-In-The-Sky & Capitol Reef
(This is part 6 of a 9 part series. Click here to go back to Day 1)
Another early rise on this Sunday morning allowed us to leave Moab and spend some time in Canyonlands – Island- In-The-Sky, the northernmost section of the park, before heading west to Capitol Reef NP. The road leading into Canyonlands – Islands is just a few miles north of the entrance to Arches NP. After a stop in the visitor’s center to ask the Rangers for their recommendations, we went directly to the Murphy Point trail and hiked the 2 miles to its end.
Here on the top of this plateau you can look across the vastness of the entire Canyonlands park. Both the Colorado and Green rivers can be viewed, making their circuitous trip south. Because the day was clear and bright we could see The Maze in the west and The Needles in the east. What a grand sight. We could see a land area from this vantage point greater than the square mile area of Rhode Island.
Following the Murphy Point hike we drove to the Grand View Point Overlook and walked along the rim trail viewing the Monument Basin, a couple thousand feet below. From this viewpoint you can also see the perimeter trail, a 4×4 vehicle dirt road, winding along the canyon edge below as it makes its 100 mile journey around the park.
We chose one more short mileage uphill trail to a destination called Upheaval Dome, which is a formation that looks like an ancient volcano caldron. However, the geologists think this is either an ancient meteor impact or a vast salt dome that collapsed. Having tasted the best of Canyonlands we were on our way after lunch to Capitol Reef NP.
The drive to Capitol Reef was about three hours long, a short dash compared to some of our previous legs. This NP is somewhat unique in the fact that a good amount of the hiking trails and destinations are located right off the highway that runs right through the park. Since we arrived pretty early in the afternoon, we stopped at a few lookouts and short trails to get a preview for Day 7.
A little further down the road, while we were admiring one of the brilliant panoramas from Panorama Point, we saw a man ride up to the parking area on his bicycle. Intrigued, we approached him to ask where he came from and where he was heading. To our amazement he replied that he started his journey in Patagonia, Argentina and was heading to Alaska. He had been on the road for 2 years and 4 months! When we warned him that it might be too late to head north to Alaska at this time of year he just ‘matter of fact’ said, “I’m pedaling back to Mexico to spend the winter and will resume my journey north in the Spring.” What an extraordinary gentleman.
By now it was later afternoon and we wanted to check in to our campground. Here again we chose the ‘softer’ option of staying in a cabin. Thank goodness, since later that evening it got quite chilly and started to rain pretty hard. We would have been miserable in the tent!Continue to Day 7 here.