Today was a long 450 mile drive from Moab, Utah to Cheyenne, Wyoming. It took over 10 hours. We ran into road construction and a 60 mile bumper to bumper backup on Interstate 70 outside of Denver that cost us several hours. The drive was mostly desolate and boring interstate but it was interesting to drive through the Rocky Mountain Hotspring towns such as Glenwood Springs, and ski resorts such as Beaver Creek, Vail, and Breckenridge an altitudes on the pass up to 11200 feet!
On the way to Cheyenne we realized we’d have trouble finding a RV Park because the selection is minimal. Most that we found has reviews of 1 or 2 stars (on a scale of 10) and sounded like scary nightmares. We finally found one that had decent reviews and was on a bison ranch: Terry Bison Ranch Resort. It looked like it could be interesting for the kids (Bison, other animals, a train ride, horseback riding, fishing pond, restaurant, etc). So we called them up and they said they were booked but had lots of grass parking if we just wanted to dry camp and park for the night. We said we might. But upon arrival they had an opening for a basic water/electricity hookup for the night. So we took it. We also found out they were so booked because it was Cheyenne’s 117th Annual Frontier Days 10 Day Celebration. Since 1897 its one of the oldest (if not the oldest) an the largest outdoor rodeo in the world.
We arrived a bit late to make the rodeo shows. And we couldn’t visit the Indian Village. The kids just wanted to go on rides and we were hungry so we ate at the Fair to the sounds of Dwight Yoakam playing in the nearby stadium. Its very much like our own Puyallup Fair, but with beer and lots more cowboy boots, cowboy hats, and Wrangler jeans. All-in-all it was a good way to end a rather exhaustingly long day of driving.
Another stormy night. Hot, but windy. Up early to visit Canyonlands National Park. But first we had a side trip to Dead Horse State Park which has a awe-inspiring overlook of Canyonlands. Its a Utah State Park and has an interesting story linked to its namesake. Its Utah’s “Grand Canyon”. At the visitor center we saw several animals. A sizable and colorful lizard, a large hawk, a desert cottontail, and many white tailed antelope squirrels.
Then we headed on to Canyonlands National Park focusing on the Island in the Sky side of the park. Our first stop was a short hike to Mesa Arch, which rivaled any arch in Arches National Park. A sheer drop of hundreds of feet just beyond the arch…like a portal to another world.
Next we went to Green River Overlook which had sweeping views across Canyonlands.
Our next stop was Upheaval Dome which is theorized to be the site of a meteor strike. Unfortunately the nearest view point was a 1 mile hike (in and another mile out) across sand and slickrock. At 101 degrees nobody was willing to make the 1 hour commitment to the walk. So we just took this picture instead and headed to Grand View.
Grandview was just that – A grand view. We decided to have this end our day at Canyonlands. Stellar views. This is a park to visit again on bikes or for hikes in cooler times like spring and fall. Most of the park is back country and only accessible via dirt road, hike/bike trail, or raft. A tour by car was short but sweet and memorable.
The kids had been good and only complained a little (and we only had to tell them to put down their devices and look out the f-bomb window a half dozen times. So we decided to take them to a dinosaur and geode place we had seen just outside of Moab. Here they stocked up on obsidian, geodes, dinosaur “bones”, fossilized dino-poop, and desert roses. Then we spent the afternoon in the pool to escape the 100+ temperatures and run some errands (laundry, clean out RV, make beds, go to store, organize car, etc. Tomorrow and the next day we have LONG drives through Colorado and Nebraska to make our way to Mount Rushmore and Badlands (we hope). We’ll see how far we get tomorrow.
After a cozy night sleep, snuggled into our R-Pod listening to the thunder, lightning, wind and rain, we awoke to blue skies across South Western Colorado. By 9am we left Dolores, Colorado and headed towards Moab, Utah. We were so fond on Dolores we named the female voice of our new Garmin GPS after her so we’d never forget.
We headed across beautiful Colorado high prairie farmlands bobbing up and down between 5500 and 7000 feet. Beautiful area and Dolores has a great little independent radio station that we listed to until we were 27 miles away and could no longer get the signal. We dialed into something else…a classic rock station from Moab that acted as a beacon as we worked our way across Colorado into North-Eastern Utah counting the cute little prairie dogs popping their heads above ground like North American meerkats. We saw a lot of animals on that drive. A few deer, and even a coyote that ran across the road and paused at the edge looking at us before we passed him.
Before Moab we took a side trip to Newspaper Rock (A State Park) about 12 miles off the highway. Its a little understood set of petroglyphs used by Native Americans from about 2000 thousand years ago until 1300. Then used again by early settlers, even until some idiot in 1954 defaced it with his contribution and few other dimwits at other more recent times. But largely the “newspaper” has remained intact.
We knew we were getting close to Moab, Arches, and Canyonlands when we passed our first arch – Wilson’s Arch .
We also stopped at the road-side attraction “Hole in the Rock” which is a 5000 square foot house that was built into the side of a mountain back in the 40s-70s. Its now a memorial to the people who built it and lived there (the husband dying in the mid 50s in the wife in the mid-seventies. They wouldn’t allow photography inside so here are a few shots from around the grounds outside and a link to some shots I found online. We didn’t visit the zoo…I can’t support roadside attraction zoos of exotic animals. Cruel.
We got to Moab about 1:30 pm, checked in to our campground (Canyonlands RV Park). Great location but they have wifi problems and problems with their septic system…very smelly. But there was shade and a pool and clean showers. So we sent the kids off to swim while I made lunch.
After lunch we headed to Arches National Park which is just outside of Moab to capture the afternoon light. It was about 101-104 in the park so we took plenty of water with us so we could walk to a few of the closer arches (it was to hot to walk them all in the afternoon heat).
I had been to Arches on my 17-year-old road trip to Albuquerque with Ross. I remember stopping by Arches in February and it being a pleasant mid-seventies or low eighties. Nobody was there. Ross and I pulled to the side of the road by one of the arches and got out a hibachi grill and cooked up a big rib-eye steak. It was one of my fondest memories of that trip. And I think for Ross as well as the picture I took of him under North Window Arch became the photo he used in his Senior-High School Yearbook Page. I was excited to return and see more of the park, which we did. It didn’t disappoint. This is an otherworldly experience.