Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Off-Roading to Canyonlands, Part I

Moab is home to some of the most radical and difficult 4-wheel-drive Jeep trails in the U.S.  With trail names such as Cliff Hanger, Hell’s Revenge, and Metal Masher, it’s no wonder the trails provoke a rush of testosterone from every young male with a comically-oversized Jeep who reads about them, and more rational “forgeddaboutit” decision-making from everyone else. 

It had been over a year since my little yellow Tracker had done some off-roading, so I was eager to find a few easier (sane) trails to explore.  There looked to be a few around Canyonlands National Park, and since this was Suzanne’s next park to check off her bucket list, we decided to take a few trips to the park via dirt backroads rather than the paved highway.

First up was Gemini Bridges Trail, an easy 13 1/2 mile 4WD road that connects Moab’s main Hwy 191 to scenic Hwy 313 running through Canyonlands’ Island in the Sky district.

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The trail climbs up the side of the massive red cliffs that parallel Hwy 191 just north of town, and guide books recommended it best to do this road from east to west so that you’ll be climbing most of the time rather than sliding downward.  Smart advice.

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At the top of the climb, the road turned into a lovely canyon bathed in lovely morning light.

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A quick photo stop at Gooney Bird Rock--

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Then on to the trail’s main attraction, the Gemini (twin) bridges.

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These bridges connect one side of a narrow deep canyon to the other, and are quite impressive from the side views!

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As we walked back to the trailhead, I had to laugh at this person’s idea of a handicapped accessible vehicle—honestly???

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We arrived to the Island In the Sky district’s Visitor’s Center midday.  Not the best for picture-taking, but a good opportunity to get a sense of this park and take a short hike on the Grand View Point trail to see both the Colorado River side--

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and the Green River side:

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Fun to watch tourists take their photos from some of these perches too!

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Finally, we reached the very end of the trail to look at the final Island In The Sky mesa-top above the confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers.

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A great introduction to the park, but this view across from the Visitor’s Center had me chomping at the bit for another off-road adventure to get us actually down into the canyon.  Stay tuned for Part 2!

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11 comments:

  1. I visited this park in 2009, I was very impressed with these roads!! We didn't drive them we saw large commercial trucks coming down those narrow switchbacks it was quite a sight.

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    1. oh my-- glad I didn't have to encounter anything like that on our drive-- just a few Jeeps & bikes!

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  2. Wonderful photos! Visiting the Utah National parks is firmly on my bucket list - maybe next fall! I'm your newest follower. :)

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    1. Welcome Linda! Nice to have you along for the ride!

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  3. As always, I adore your great photos!

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  4. Gorgeous and I love reading your version and your passengers! LOL Such lovely country and I'd be out doing the same darned thing - love the back roads and do it all the time around here!

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