Thursday, October 16, 2014

Moab Behind the Scenes

Even if you’ve never been to Utah or have hiked Arches National Park, you likely have seen one of its most-famous destinations—Delicate Arch.  It’s image even adorns the Utah state license plate!

Romain Guy_Flickr_Delicate Arch 
(courtesy: Flickr.com – Romaine Guy)

After leaving Colorado, I had Moab, Utah in my sights.  Warm, sunny days in the upper 70s, pleasant nights in the low 50s, two amazing national parks (Arches & Canyonlands) to re-explore, and lots of brilliant red and orange Colorado River valley rocks to hike and photograph.  What’s not to love?

But as I neared the Utah border, the magnitude of the last week’s hurried cross-country travels, as well as the last few months of non-stop house moving began to catch up with me.  I pulled off the highway to boondock at a great little area called Rabbit Valley BLM.

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Amazing how just one night of stillness in the wilds can recalibrate one’s priorities! 

I craved to reconnect with nature, to find something new and enchanting to photograph (rather than race the mob of other photographers to capture the 1-billionth image of Delicate Arch), and most importantly, to slow down and begin to savor each destination more—looking beyond the popular attractions for those less-obvious gems lurking beneath.

So, for my first week in Moab, I specifically avoided re-visiting the National Parks (just yet), and began exploring Moab’s less-obvious locations.  One tourist pamphlet mentioned a 60-mile drive called the  “La Sal Mountain Loop Road.”   Ah, yes! Those mountains always seen in the background of every photo of Delicate Arch! Perfect!

Even though it was a rare gray and overcast afternoon in Moab, I loaded Millie and my camera gear in the Tracker and headed out to drive the Loop, following, of all things, a FedEx truck!

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The mountains ahead of us were showing large swaths of yellow and orange unlike anything I’d ever seen.  As we climbed up from Moab’s elevation of 4400 feet to La Sal’s elevations above 8,000 feet, the mountains revealed flowing strands of aspen trees amidst brilliantly colored shrub-covered mountains.

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Around almost every turn, was a brilliance of color that is difficult to convey in mere photographs (especially on an overcast day!).

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But these glorious aspens had me hooked!

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As I came down the backside of the La Sal Loop towards the Colorado River canyon along Hwy 128, the Fisher Towers and Colorado River canyon came into view--

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I recalled photographing this canyon from the more common opposite direction (from the valley below) back in 2006 during a trip to Moab with my T@B trailer--

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But seeing it now from this opposite new direction energized me so much that I decided to repeat the entire Loop drive again the very next day!

For the second trip, it was a “bluebird” sunny afternoon.  What a difference a day makes!

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This time, I drove a few of the unpaved Forest Service roads that climb above the Loop Road (up to around 10,000 feet) where I could get a closer look at the aspen groves.

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The brilliant gold strands along the mountainsides were simply mesmerizing!

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Higher up, the aspens were finally joined by their more-expected companions—evergreen pine and spruce:

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Is there any water near Moab besides the muddy Colorado river?  You bet there is!  Another Forest Service road lead me up to Warner Campground where I encountered this scene that literally took my breath away! (be sure to click any of these photos to view them larger!)

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Alas, the afternoon sun was fading fast and we needed to head back down to the Loop road and head back toward the Fisher Towers and the Colorado River.

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Another spectacular descent into the valley…

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finished off by the last glimmers of light along the bottom of the canyon.  Truly, a remarkable drive and a totally unexpected gem!

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22 comments:

  1. This post was surely loaded with eye candy!

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  2. Majestic! Exquisite! Beautiful. and a million other adjectives come to mind. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Thank you for the La Sal tour. Every year we drive past the turnoff as we hurry to Moab for our dose of Canyonlands via the Green River, and every year we say we need to spend more time exploring the area. Maybe next year!

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  4. Hurray! I've been waiting for your beautiful western states photos, and today's photos were worth the wait. I lived in Provo for a few years back in the eighties, and you are in Utah at just the right time to enjoy the beautiful, striped mountain colors. And as usual, your photography skills are impressive. Thank you for taking the time to share, Lynne.

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  5. Jaw Dropping photos!! And what a great lesson on opening the possibilities of exploring and taking your time...
    Thanks

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  6. Thanks for the relaxing exploration of the beauty that surrounds Moab NP. I found your blog this summer while researching RVs. While you were busy selling your home, I have been waiting patiently for you to get back into your relaxing travel groove- a worthwhile wait. The Aspens are stunning. Peaceful travels!

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  7. Your first photo of the reflection in the lake is just spectacular. You need to enter it in a photo contest. Great drive. I always wondered what the La Salle Mtn. loop was like. Thanks for the tour.

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  8. Those views took my breath away too.....and they were pictures! The colors and the reflections on the water and the vastness of the valley, well it all makes me want to go RVing more than ever. Fall is my favorite season, hands down. Thanks Lynne for letting me (and all of us who aren't out there) travel vicariously through your stories and photos.
    Jane

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  9. I'm glad you're back on the road but you keep making me stick more pins in my map and I don't know that I'll ever be able to get to all of them!!

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  10. Absolutely freaking STUNNING! Glad you got some quiet restful time as well.

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  11. I would buy a calendar with those pictures anytime! Beautiful!

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  12. Oh, those are glorious pictures.. so very, very beautiful!!

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  13. Magnificent photos. Love the reflections and the beautiful colors.

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  14. These photos are just stunning. Thank you for sharing them

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  15. I'm so happy you decided to take the time to really explore. I often wonder why full timers just drive for hours on end and then park over night and move on again. Thank you so much for sharing these magnificent photos with us.

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  16. I know what you mean about the crowds at the national parks. I worked the North Rim (quiet and peaceful) until the 15th, I spent the 16th at Lees Ferry Campground, also quiet and peaceful. Decided to drive to the South Rim to see that side of the canyon. Desert View was beautiful, more crowded than the North Rim but tolerable, but when I got into the middle of the South Rim it was too much, too many people, too crowded, too much traffic so tonight I am in Williams, AZ trying to figure out where to camp, away from the crowds, on my way to San Antonio.

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  17. Great photos and nice to see what else is around Moab.

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  18. Really stunning photos! We hope to do this trip next year. Thanks for posting information.

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  19. Excellent shots. I for one am happy to see you on the road and doing what you like to do. Yours is a really well laid out Blog, well written and laid out, a pleasure to follow.

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  20. All of the above comments and more!! Thanks

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