We got to Castle Valley, UT down the super scenic Highway 128. We LOVE this drive as it follows the Colorado and is filled with red rock walls and formations. We stayed at the 2nd home of a friend of Doug’s. This is the same kind gentlemen who lent us his apartment on weekends while we were in Austin, after Doug’s surgery in March. Thanks so much again, Clint! His in-laws have this small 3 bedroom vacation house in Castle Valley (less than 20 miles from Moab). It is in a beautiful setting and has all the mod cons including Wi-Fi, laundry and air conditioning.
We stayed here three nights and enjoyed some off roading, some hiking and some scenery. We took the back roads into Gateway, Colorado, checked out the La Sal Mountains roads and walked along the shore of the Colorado. The river is rather low and looks more like mud than water!
We then spent a night at our fave camping spot on Long Canyon (remember this Sandra? Christine? And Pat and Therese?). The Long Canyon road itself was closed but we did spend the next day in Canyonlands (our favourite US National Park) where we did two great hikes we’d never done before and drove the Shafer Trail down to the Potash Road and back to Moab.
We moseyed on south of Moab and spent a night at Looking Glass Arch on the BLM lands before continuing southwest to Natural Bridges National Monument. We have been to this park before but had been unaware it was rated a Gold Tier Dark Sky location at the time. We tried twice after our first time to head down there but we never had clear skies until today! We checked out the Monument’s loop trail, did a couple of hikes down to the bridges and then enjoyed the magnificent night sky. The Milky Way put on a great show in the cloudless sky. We own one of those glows in the dark star charts and spent about an hour trying to find constellations. Great fun.
Wednesday we headed along another scenic road: Highway 95 that crosses the north end of Lake Powell. We had intended to stop at the Lake and try out our inflatable kayaks but, sadly, the lack of rainfall has resulted in an extremely low lake level and you wouldn’t be able to launch a boat of any sort there. The red rocks were magnificent though and we carried on to Escalante in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and spent a night at the Escalante Petrified Forest State park so we could plug in, top up our water supply, have hot showers and use the Sani dump. We got the last campsite so we were very lucky. We hiked through the Petrified Forest before showering and it was interesting but we’d seen better specimens elsewhere. We so love travelling in southern Utah and the Four Corners – the scenery is never tiring and there always seems to be some new place to explore and/or revisit.
As we have to be in Las Vegas by Sunday night because Doug has to fly to New Jersey on Monday for a week’s work and Fran flies up to Vancouver on the 12th to help her Mom move to Ontario, we had a bit longer of a driving day than we’d like (almost 200 miles) and made it to St. George, Utah in the south west corner. It was very hot here – over 100◦F and so we decided on a hotel for a couple of nights as Friday’s weather did not look good, Doug had some work to do before flying on Monday and Tigger was due for an oil change and some maintenance.