The Grand Circle Tour – Day Six – Canyonlands National Park

As we left Moab, our plans for the day were very fluid.  We headed south in the general direction of Blanding, UT and were on the lookout for anything that piqued our interest.  Dawne was busy researching online (when she had cellular coverage) and the rest of the crew were reading road signs and scouring through any brochures we had on hand.  We didn’t have to wait long – only 24 miles into our journey, we spotted our first target.

Wilson Arch

After getting our fill of arches at Arches the day before, Utah added in one more for good measure.  Driving south on UT-191 we came across Wilson Arch, which is visible directly from the road.  It is named for Joe Wilson, who was an early pioneer who had a cabin in nearby Dry Valley.

 

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Wilson Arch
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Close-up of Wilson Arch for some perspective on its size.

 

We were a bit disappointed that we would have to forgo visiting Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands National Park – or so we thought.  We had passed entrances to these sites north of Moab and assumed our chance to visit on this trip was lost.  We were pleasantly surprised when we saw signs for access to Canyonlands and Newspaper Rock via UT-211.

Newspaper Rock

We made a quick stop at Newspaper Rock, which is a collection of petroglyphs dating back over 2,000 years.  We learned that petroglyphs are images created by removing the surface of the rock by carving or engraving.  In this case the rock has a dark exterior coating.  Apparently the locals have been stopping by for thousands of years to catch up on the “latest” news.

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Canyonlands

Canyonlands is a vast National Park covering 527 square miles and is less frequented by visitors than other national parks – probably because its roads are mainly unpaved and its trails are more primitive.  There are two entrances and we were fortunate to stumble upon the southeast entrance.  The confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers is located within the park, but is accessible only by four-wheel drive vehicles.

We made stops at Wooden Shoe Arch Overlook and Pothole Point. The vistas were amazing as we scanned across multiple canyons and intriguing rock formations.

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Wooden Shoe Arch
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Needles District in the background.
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Close-up of the Needles District.

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We were particularly impressed with the variety of colorful plant life.

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Apparently, the park is home to a wide variety of wildlife (bighorn sheep, coyotes, etc.), but we were only lucky enough to spot several lizards and one very friendly raven.

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Utah’s Mighty Five

As an added bonus, we realized that we had now completed the list of Utah’s Mighty Five, comprised of Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.  We were so proud!

4 thoughts on “The Grand Circle Tour – Day Six – Canyonlands National Park”

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