Rock Stars

Sunday, December 16, 2012 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Moab, UT
After the incredible scenery we saw in Utah yesterday, we were looking forward to visiting two of Utah's five national parks.  To put that number in perspective, only 27 states have national parks within their boundaries.  Just two states have more national parks than Utah:  Alaska (eight times the size of Utah) has 8 national parks, and California (twice as big as Utah) also has 8.  We marveled that some of the places we saw yesterday driving across I-70 were not declared national parks.  Today we visited two places that were obvious choices, within a few miles of each other but vastly different.

Our first stop was at Arches National Park, which preserves an area with more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches.  The park lies on top of a salt bed, which is the primary designer in creating the sculptured rock scenery within its boundaries.  In addition to the arches, which give the park its name, the area is rife with other rock formations— spires, balanced rocks, sandstone fins, and eroded monoliths.  Between Arches and Canyonlands parks, we took about 450 photos today.  Arches needs no additional words from us; the park's incredible beauty can speak for itself.  (pictured above:  The Organ)

North Arch and South Arch, Arches National Park

Delicate Arch (L), Arches NP's most famous formation, is featured on the Utah license plate.

Fiery Furnace, a collection of narrow maze-like passages and tall rock columns
Canyonlands National Park preserves a landscape characterized by countless canyons carved over thousands of years by the Colorado and Green Rivers and their tributaries.  The park is divided into three sections by the rivers.  Today we visited the Island in the Sky section, the one closest to Moab.  Like Arches, Canyonlands is quite capable of speaking for itself, so the photos have the floor.
Shafer Canyon

Orange Cliffs Overlook
Grandview Point
We were truly in awe of the scenery at both these parks today.  Seeing them, as well as the areas around them, has solidified our determination to return to this area to spend a lot more time.  Scenic wonders abound and we are quite willing to succumb to their allure.

Tomorrow we'll reluctantly be leaving Utah, heading southeast to Cortez, Colorado, which will be our base for visiting Mesa Verde National Park.