Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Into Utah Moab, UT, Wednesday, 12 September 2012 11:53pm

I fully expected to get soaked today. The weather reports were projecting thunderstorms along much of my intended route, so I geared up for cool and wet conditions (four layers on the torso and five on the legs).

I set out to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The canyon is impressively steep, and there are a lot of interesting patterns along its faces where the river cut through various strata of rock. While I was there, it was generally foggy, but with occasional cloud breaks. I got some good views of the canyon, but I'm sure only a shadow of its full glory. The last view point, "High Point" was so fogged in that I didn't bother stopping. For most of the others, I walked in 200-700 yards. In full kit, that was rather warm. Though it kept threatening to, it didn't rain while I was in the park.

I stopped back in Montrose for lunch and then headed towards Utah. The route I took (CO-62/CO-145/CO-90/UT-46) was great. Fast, twisty roads, with excellent scenery. On the Colorado side it was initially alpine, slowly giving way to high plains, and in Utah, there were some great weird shapes of red rock. This is really the landscape that I took this leg of the trip to see. To make the trip even better, though it drizzled on me a little in Colorado, the weather cleared fairly early. There were enough clouds in the sky to be picturesque, but not enough to dim the brilliant sunlight.

My research suggested that by the time I'd arrive the campgrounds were likely to be full at both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, so I decided to stop at the KOA just south of Moab, drop off most of my luggage, shed a bunch of layers, and head over to Canyonlands to catch sunset.

I was a little suspicious when the GPS told me to turn off onto a state highway that was not marked as leading to Canyonlands, but the road was labeled as a Scenic Byway, so maybe it was just a less direct alternate route? It ran along the base of the canyon, next to a calm river, and provided awesome view after awesome view. The base of the canyon thing should have been a warning sign, though, since the pictures I'd seen from Canyonlands all focused on looking down from the top of the canyon. Sure enough, after about half an hour, I came to a "Pavement Ends" sign. I turned around, and headed back to the main highway, and followed the signs for Canyonlands, ignoring the GPS, and arrived in time to catch some of the sunset colors. All in all, one of the best mistakes the GPS has made.