Once we left Salt Lake City, our road trip took us to Moab, pronounced Mo-ab which I kept saying Mo-hab. The city has a population of less than 7,000 and primary source of income is tourism. Moab averages about one million tourists annually with the summer being their busiest months. The city economy is booming with numerous chain hotels and local-owned restaurants. Also, they just expanded the runaway and now you can fly into Moab rather than doing the 4-hour drive. Lastly, the city is close to two of five National Parks in Utah – Arches and Canyonlands.
Did you know that there are 58 National Parks?
So on our first full day in Moab, our itinerary included exploring the Canyonlands in a 4×4 jeep and rafting down the Colorado River.
Mimi Wanders found a great local guide – Navtec Expeditionsfor our excursions.
Our tour guide, Doug, picked us at 7:30 PM and we are on our private tour of the Canyonlands.
Canyonlands is the largest national park in Utah, and it is known for its dramatic desert landscape carved by the Colorado River.
Distance from Moab
32 miles (51.5km)
Directions from Moab
Take Highway 191 10 miles (16 km) north to Highway 313, and then drive southwest 22 miles (35 km). Driving time to the visitor center from Moab is roughly 40 minutes.
Open year-round, 24 hours/day
$30/vehicle – Good for 7 days
Tour of Canyonlands
The first stop was to see the petroglyphs on the mountain walls. I will be honest, I didn’t see what they were seeing, but the guide told us lots of history.
Let me know if you can see the hieroglyphics.
While there we were introduced to a psychedelic flower – moonflower also known as morning glory. We were told once you ingest it, there is no coming back.
It was time to head to our next lookout point.
We then stopped at Jug Handle Arch. It is located along the Colorado River just off of Highway 279, the Potash Road, and is viewable from the road. You can hike up to it but I opted to point at it.
Back in the jeep to our next stop
Within the Canyonlands are train tracks for the freight trains
We then stopped at the “Balanced Rock”. Impressive!
Mimi tried to move it to no avail.
On the road again
Then it was the canyons that look like a Pyramids.
We were trying to figure it out
Oh well, let’s take a picture.
We then stopped where they filmed the famous scene of Thelma and Louise driving off the cliff. They had to shoot the shot twice as the dummy heads were decapitated when the car went off the cliff. In the second shot, they taped the dummy heads and that is why Thelma and Louise were wearing scarves to hide the tape.
Along the way, the beauty of the Canyonlands just left us breathless.
Our final stop was Musselman Arch. It is technically a bridge, its popular name today is after a local resident well-known for exploring the region around the bridge. It’s five feet thick, six feet wide, 187 feet long and 300 feet down.
At one time, people were allowed to walk/drive over it until there was an incident. Now, you get to admire and take some pictures.
Time to go
It wouldn’t be fair not warn you. The drive through the Canyonlands is like “living on the edge”. The roads are narrow and you are overlooking several cliffs. The elevation is no joke.
To give you an idea, this was our road up.
However, during and after the tour, you know that this is the best way to see one of our national treasures.