"Finding Nirvana is like Locating Silence" Jack Kerouac- Dharma Bums
We have been talking about a trip to Canyonlands for what seems like forever. It was the only National Park we skipped when we camped across Utah two summers ago. This was mostly because we didn't have a 4WD capable of our ambitious plans. When we realized we both had off the last week of December it seemed like the perfect road trip destination. Unfortunately, with highs around 16-20 and lows hovering around 9 we would have to put off a multi day trip around White Rim Road. This wouldn't stop us from checking off a few of the other places around the park that had made our list.
It's 10 degrees when our alarm goes off at 5am. We fill thermoses with coffee, bundle up and head towards the Island in the Sky district.
Countless times I had read that watching the sun rise at Mesa Arch was something that you had to experience to fully understand. I tend to be cautious if not skeptical when anything is described in such a supernal way. Much in the same way that I've had too many burritos that were promised to change my life. We've been let down before. This was not one of those times. Mesa Arch lives up to every ounce of hype.
Upheaval Dome is a 3 mile wide crater that is ~170 million years old. They are not sure how it was made, but they have two guesses! One is that it's a salt dome and the other being a meteor impact crater. Here is the wiki page for it.
Unmarked trails are the best trails. You won't find this trail on a park service map, but if you find it it is well marked with cairns. This hike gives you solitude and an unreal vantage point of the landscape.
The Needles District is about an hour and a half south of Moab. On average Needles sees about 1/5 as many visitors as Island in the Sky. You know you're in a remote area when there is a map of hospitals near the trail maps.
Every exposed inch of my face is being wind burnt as we do a couple of the very short hikes around this area. I wouldn't advise this part in the winter. There is very little that is accessible. Below you can see Jenni enduring the elements to read about shrimp life cycles in the completely frozen puddles she is standing on.