The east of Utah’s desert with its famous parks – Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches. The west of Colorado with the Rocky Mountains. A change from early summer to late winter within an hour or 2. A mix of heat’n’dust and cold’n’snow.
Torrey, 25th April
Well, we’ve seen beautiful Bryce National Park. Time to move on. To Escalante Village, situated next to the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument. Just a few km to drive.
We plan to visit another 1 of these slot canyons. Now 1 in the middle of nowhere, without hordes of tourists, without elevators or escalators to enter. So we head for the Peek-a-Boo Canyon on the Hole-in-the-Rock Road. The road: rather bumpy, washboard at its best. Prado thinks it’s back to Tanzania’s Serengeti or Mongolia’s Gobi. Thus it starts showing its discomfort by mentioning a serious problem with the diesel filter. After priming Prado returns to normal – at least for the time being.
After some 40km we arrive. A few km walk to the canyon.
Then we’re at its entrance. Looks great – only slightly disturbing: a 4m high wall in front of us. Some guys try to climb it, some succeed, most do not. Monika knows immediately that the bypass is the better solution.
Some 15’ later we’re at the back side of the canyon; ready to explore it.
We drive back to Escalante village. Go to a workshop to ask for what reason Prado’s diesel filter felt slightly uneasy. As the guys have no clue, they give us an address of a mechanic in another village – a nice job for tomorrow.
Whatever, we have to celebrate the traverse of Peek-a-Boo Canyon with a pitcher of Pale Ale.
Next are Torrey and the Capitol Reef National Park. Some 150km, nice landscape.
On the way a short visit to the recommended mechanic: He diagnoses that supposedly Prado sucked some air out of the nearly empty 1st diesel tank when it got shaken on the Hole-in-the-Rock Road. So probably no problem with Prado, only with the ruthless driver.
In the evening a visit to Capitol Reef National Park, …
… a short hike to some inscriptions of the old pioneers (vortrekkers for those more oriented to South-African English), …
… some potholes without water …
… and finally to the sunset point.
And then it’s time for an Amber Ale at the Rim Rock Restaurant. A wonderful place.
The next morning the need for a hike: the Rim Overlook. A path leading up high above the cliffs with a fantastic view.
In the evening we plan the next days. Of course we need to do so because another weekend is not too far away – the time when everything fills up quickly and accommodation prizes double, triple or simply explode to infinity. As we intend to visit Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, their only center with some infrastructure – Moab – may be 1 of these sky rocketing prized places.
And indeed, it is. So we have to slightly reschedule our next destinations to avoid the weekend. No national parks, but 1st going to the Southern Rockies and then back to Moab. A short break from the desert.
Ouray, 28th April
There’s a scenic byway from Capitol Reef National Park to Lake Powell and on to southern Colorado. Some 300km to Monticello. Monticello – even if it sounds somehow like Montepulciano in Tuscany it is slightly different. Later more about that.
On the way to this Italian inspired place we cross Capitol Reef to the east, …
… then through a moonlike landscape.
Later southwards to the upper end of Lake Powell. After some 100km we’re there.
From the famous Lake Powell Viewpoint we expect to see the lake. Well, reality is a bit different. Nowadays the lake is pretty far away. The former marina of the village of Hite is clearly visible in the dry landscape with some rivers nearby. As well as a few decaying houses: A very visible impact of the extremely low level of the lake.
We’re still wondering how this can happen. We have learned that in the US climate change does currently not exist – at least until the next elections will take place. Thus, there must be other reasons for this low water level. Of course it could be unfair rainy pattern giving all benefit to the Chinese, it could be a fake viewpoint not showing the real extent of the lake or maybe an alternative water level of the lake.
Whatever, none of these theories seem to be too conclusive. Remains only the assumption that climate change in America does not exist because it has already taken place. That means all we experience here at Lake Powell is the final result after the climate has changed. And that also means that America is again very advanced compared to any other country in the world. Thus it’s really 1st. And so GREAT!!! Isn’t that a wonderful assumption?
Ok. Enough theories. We move on. A visit to the Natural Bridges National Monument. A pretty small and rather unknown place with some stone bridges. Good for some short hikes.
In the evening we arrive in Monticello. Despite its beautiful Italian name – immediately you dream of ruccola, bresaola, gorgonzola or Berlusconi – it’s just a cluster of houses, some motels’n’ugly RV sites and next to no eateries. So no Chianti and Risotto con merione assciuto. No, just hamburgers or cheeseburgers.
If in Monticello, then take the chance to visit the southernmost part of the Canyonlands National Park – The Needles. At least for half a day. It’s just a few km away.
1st stop: the Newspaper Rock. A rock full of petroglyphs telling the latest news.
Of course we check immediately where the hell all these news are coming from. We learn that all these inscriptions were made some 2000 years ago by different local tribes.
So all ok, looks very interesting.
Nevertheless, nowhere a sign that Fox News has approved what these guys put on this rock. Without any trustworthy approval we’re pretty sure Newspaper Rock must be full of fake news. Just to manipulate the brave public. How bad, what a shame.
Then on to The Needles. A short hike to admire them.
Finally we drive on to Durango. Formerly an important mining town, nowadays retrieving all its importance from tourism. A stroll thru its historic district – just 1 road, and …
… a splurge in a nice roadside restaurant. And that’s it.
On to the Rockies. To Ouray, this old mining town, nowadays rather concentrating on tourists. Shortly after Durango the landscape changes dramatically. Desert and spring are history. Rough mountains and winter become a reality. The road seems to be pretty dangerous – at least for American standards.
A 1st pass, some 2800m altitude. Snow.
Then a 2nd pass: 2900m. Less snow, but greater view.
We arrive in Silverton. Formerly also a famous mining town, now known as the town with the worst historic house replicas in the region. Mostly pure kitsch. At this time of the year a very quiet place.
On to Ouray. Now on the famous Million Dollar Highway.
Finally, we arrive in Ouray. A rather rural village with some nice historic houses (no fake 1s). Strangely they claim to be America’s Switzerland. Of course that cannot be true. In this case not Uncle Don would waste the Ouranian’s tax money but the ultimate Swizzy political hero HE C. D. Blocher’s baby girl would torture her poor subjects. Nevertheless, we could not observe a single sign of this change of reign.
Whatever, no need for politics in Ouray. Preferably admire the nice historic houses, …
… and enjoy the Outlaw Restaurant with its famous cowboy pianist.
Moab, 2nd May
It’s Sunday – weekend is nearly over. Hopefully, as well as the corresponding hype in Moab. Time to go there.
A few passes to cross; on the way some snow mountains to appreciate.
And then a complete change of the landscape – we’re back to the desert. Even if weather is not very desert like.
In Moab we go to the only watering hole/eatery worth a visit: the Moab Brewery. We still remember it from our last stay some 20 years ago.
In front of the place quite some folk is hanging around. Quickly we discover why they’re all gathering around the entrance – they’re waiting for a table to be available. Dear eaters inside hurry up. If not some poor guys will simply starve next to you. Of course, we’re not too astonished about the strange behaviour of these people. In the meantime we know the tribal ritual of Americans to hang around at the eatery’s entrance before being allowed to munch something.
Finally our little waiting time is well honoured – with some Pale Ale from their brewery.
Of course, most visitors don’t stay in Moab just for the Moab Brewery and the tribal customs of the locals. The real reasons for a visit are 2 national parks: Arches’n’Canyonlands. So are ours.
The 1st 1 accommodates the sensational Delicate Arch. Said to be the most beautiful arch in the world. It’s even on Utah’s number plates. So many reasons to see it.
Arriving at the park we state that we’re definitely not the only 1s.
A little later there are also clear signs that visitors from many different countries are present. To avoid too much cultural diversity, the national park rangers give them clear advises on how to streamline in all situations of life. Clear signs are posted at all important points to avoid incredible mistakes.
Then we’re on the way to Delicate Arch. A stroll together with numerous co-hikers.
Finally, we arrive. Together with some other enthusiastic guys. Many taking the chance of making the pic of their life.
Of course there are more arches in this national park – but none like the Delicate 1 …
… even if the Double Arch also looks quite gorgeous.
Another day, another park. Now Canyonlands National Park. Nomen est Omen – it’s famous for its views into the canyons of Colorado River and its tributaries. And for some famous 4×4 tracks. As there are many canyons in this part of the world, it’s much less crowded.
Mesa Arch is 1 of the highlights.
On to the Grand Viewpoint Overlook in the Island in the Sky, and …
… later the Green River Overlook during a storm.
Finally, we head for the famous Shafer Trail. A pretty good gravel road characterized by the 500m deep drop on the cliffside. A nightmare for the vertigo addict, the highlight for all others driving a 4×4. Whatever – a great journey and a shortcut to drive back to Moab.
As most people insist on how dangerous this road is below a trailer showing that these guys are just telling unbelievably false stories.
After a month of travel thru America’s desert Prado starts crying for a spa – and we slowly begin to feel a little uncomfortable in all this dust and dirt Prado collected during the journey. A situation to improve straightforward: all our stuff out of the car – into the motel room.
A thru’n’thru wash of Prado – inside’n’outside. And a few hours later Prado lost some 100kg of dirt and we’re all ready for new adventures – outside the desert.
Telluride, 3rd May
The next morning we’re on the way back to the Rocky Mountains. To Telluride, another former mining village, at an altitude of 2700m – despite last night’s snowfall in the mountains. Some 3,5h drive.
Late afternoon we arrive. Pretty cold here.
Well. That’s it for today. More and even more interesting stuff (maybe) soon in our next post.
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