As it turns out – cars need gas to run. It also turns out Canyonlands National Park is 527 square miles.
Our third day in Moab didn’t go quite as planned. We set off from camp with about a quarter tank of gas and expecting to drive about 40 miles to do a bit of hiking. Little did I know that the trail I was hoping to do was nearly three hours from the park entrance. Can we chalk that up to a blonde moment? Fortunately we were at the park in the early morning and were able to check out some of the sights nearer to the entrance in relative solitude.
I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, nor really seen an entire landscape carved from water. It blew me away (almost literally). I’ve always wanted to float above the valleys below the 14er summits and this was the closest I’ve ever been to feeling like I was flying. Paragliding is near the top of my list for next summer season.
The Trails (Island in the Sky area of Canyonlands)
Mesa Arch: This trail is about 6 – 7miles from the visitor center. Its a flat, half-mile loop and the views are spectacular. There were a few stairs, but they were easy to navigate, and there weren’t many of them. This is an arch you can actually walk across. We were there around 8:30 AM. When we passed it again around 11:30 AM, it was totally packed, so I would recommend getting there early.
Murphy Point: This trail is about 8 – 9 miles from the visitor center. It also doesn’t have much elevation gain and is essentially a flat and well marked trail out to a jutting peninsula of rock. From this point, “Island in the Sky” really lives up to its name. When I perched on the rocks at the edge of the lookout, I really felt as if I was floating above this almost martian landscape. Definitely worth the walk and the trail is about 2.6 miles RT.
Negro Bill Canyon Trail: This was a trail near where we camped. We did it toward the end of the day, and caught the majority of the scenery during the golden glow of sunset. This trail follows a creek and stays generally toward the bottom of the canyon. The creek is crystal clear and refreshing after a hot day in the sun. The trail also offers plentiful opportunities to rest in the shade or among wild flowers as well. The best part of this trail is that it ends at a massive arch/bridge called Morning Glory. We were lucky enough to see people repelling from the bridge, which is apparently the sixth largest in the US. This trail has a bit more elevation to it than the other two mentioned above, but still very little.