After hiking the Grand Canyon, George and I continued venturing east, but this time northeast to Utah’s Moab region. We heard great things about the off-road trails, mountain biking, and national parks (Arches and Canyonlands), and wanted to explore them all. When we arrived in Moab it was packed with 4×4 vehicles (jeeps, trucks, and vans like ours) because of some kind of Utah holiday weekend. We eventually found a spot to camp about 12 miles down a dirt road towards the BLM land campgrounds. We were handsomely rewarded with incredible canyon views and great mountain biking trails for George.
Arches National Park
Arches is essentially in the backyard of Moab. You can drive through it in a day, and they have two defined day hikes that take you through gorgeous scenery and some of the most famous arches. Definitely worth a stop if you are in the area.
We learned from an arch-hunter in Moab (yes, you read that correctly, there are self-described arch-hunters) that there are actually over 2,500 arches in the park, and you have to go off the defined roads and trails to get to most of them. If you discover a new arch, you are immortalized by being able to name it! Sadly, we discovered no new arches on our hikes.
On day two, George did some amazing mountain biking on some black diamond trails (I don’t even want to know!), and I got the last permit to hike the Fiery Furnace trail with a guide in Arches (due to someone cancelling last minute). The Fiery Furnace takes you through a winding maze of wall-like rock formations that have you scrambling over crevices and cracks. Unfortunately since I needed both hands in many instances and was by myself, I didn’t get any great photo-ops, but the hike was great.
The White Rim Trail – Canyonlands National Park
The White Rim Trail is a 100 mile 4×4 (or mountain biking) road in Canyonlands National Park that winds through the canyons around the Colorado and Green rivers. Very few people a day are allowed on the trail, and people often book months in advance. For mountain biking and 4×4 enthusiasts, its a big bucket-list item.
Prior to hiking the Grand Canyon, George was able to get on the Sportsmobile forum and hooked up with a guy we came to know as Don, who had permits to drive the White Rim Trail. Don wanted another vehicle to accompany him on the trail (a smart thing to do when driving remote jeep roads), and we desperately wanted to drive/ride the trail, so it was a perfect match. I cannot describe enough how incredible Canyonlands and the White Rim Trail was. It’s like taking the most impressive parts of the Grand Canyon and Death Valley and mashing them together, but adding these white marble-looking chess pieces in the center (monuments). And to top it off, with these permits, you basically have the whole park to yourself; we saw very few people.
We also had an incredible time camping and getting to know Don and Ed on this trip, our White Rim Trail compadres. They have experiences and knowledge far beyond ours, and we enjoyed hearing about their adventures, as well as learning so many things about the inner workings of our Sportsmobile, and 4×4 driving tips.
Speaking of 4×4 driving, I ended up driving a majority of the trail while George mountain biked. This was an intermediate 4×4 trail with many steep, rocky, and hilly parts that really tested your 4wd low gear. The white rim trail should be called the white knuckle trail. But following Don and Ed on the trail, we were able to make it through no problem and also learned a great deal about airing down tires, what gear to be in when, etc. It turned out to be such a blast and I truly feel confident in Titus’s ability to handle any road conditions we’ll encounter on our trip.
Up next we’ll be doing some hikes in Bryce Canyon, and are in search of some hot springs, possibly in Saline Valley.
What we are listening to:
– Leonard Cohen – Slow
More photos from Arches and Canyonlands: