A Whale of A Time // Canyonlands National Park

Some mornings are harder to get out of bed than others. 

August 4th in Moab, Utah was easy. 

#freecamping

I made my green tea with two splenda and a spoonful of honey and went outside.

An hour or so later, Devon woke up and made our favorite egg scramble breakfast.

We spent the rest of the morning hitting reset on the trailer. 

Sorry, I mean we cleaned up all the messes we had made from cooking throughout the week and our sprawled out hiking things (backpacks, shoes, layers of clothing, etc.) from the three days spent in Arches National Park.

You’d be surprised how dirty a 17’ trailer can get.

After lunch we decided to go for a drive. 

We made a quick stop in town to fill up on gas and dropped some post cards at the post office before heading back to the The Colorado River Scenic Byway just a few miles up the road. And ran into our old friend, Mater…Tow Mater!

The plan for the drive was to get to Cisco, Utah.

Before our route changed in Colorado for how we were coming into Utah, we considered staying at a Harvest Host in Cisco. Unfortunately, when our plans to Telluride, CO didn’t work out, neither did Cisco and we came into Moab from the South instead of the East.

Max, our first Boondockers Welcome Host had also mentioned it to us as a place to stop if we were driving I-70 from Colorado into Utah! 

When we made it to Cisco, I’ll be honest…

we still weren’t sure we had made it or not.

Uhhhhh. 

I’ll be honest again, 

We took two very slow drives around the square that is Cisco, 

And started the drive right back to Moab.

The first lap we were in shock, 

the second we tried to absorb. 

We asked ourselves all sorts of questions…

Do people live here?

Maybe its an art installation?

Where would someone live even if they did live here??

………annnnnnnd where’s the harvest host….?

I immediately got on my phone to do some investigating as to where in the WORLD we had just been.

Long story short, in 2015, Eileen Muza bought Cisco. What was once a ghost-town (but then again, maybe ghosts never leave…), Eileen has worked to turn into a large art project; an artist’s haven.

Check out this article by Emily Cataneo from Roadtrippers.com!

https://roadtrippers.com/magazine/cisco-ghost-town-utah/

I’ll put it on the When We Come Back List for the sake of second chances.

Not quite ready to go home, we put Canyonlands National Park in the GPS to start scoping out what we wanted to do.

From where we were camping in Moab, we had about a 35 minute drive to the Island in the Sky portion of the Park.

I would love to see this place on a clear day!

We stretched our legs at the several overlooks, each one more impressive than the next. Through our own research and recommendations at the visitor center, we decided we would come back for sunrise the next morning. 

As we drove home that night, we were even treated to some views of some dinosaurs!

Set the alarms.

Let’s get up for sunrise.

Of all the things we had heard and read about Canyonlands, the #1 recommendation we noticed was seeing sunrise at Mesa Arch.

When we arrived in the parking lot just after 6AM, snagging one of the last parking spots, it was clear we were not the only ones who were given this recommendation.

Roundtrip, this hike was 0.5 miles; an easy start to the morning.

Unfortunately, the crowd and smoky haze made for a disappointing sunrise.

Instagram….
Reality…

We walked around, took a few pictures, and decided to find another hike instead.

It was well after the time of sunrise and there was no sun in sight 😦

All of a sudden, it appeared.

The first hike we found with no other cars at the trailhead was Whale Rock. It was just under a mile, but still got your heart racing as you hike up the sandstone.

One of my personal favorite parts of hiking is getting to play with the photography of different landscapes.

I’ll give you one of my secrets.

If you find a body of water,

flip your phone upside down so the camera is closest to the water.

You might be surprised by the reflections you capture.

The body of water I used to create these images looks like it could be a lake or pond, when in fact, it was just a little puddle at the top of Whale Rock.

Whale Rock

After Whale Rock, we drove a little bit further down the road to Upheaval Dome.

This trailhead offers a couple different options: the first overlook, the second overlook, and the Syncline Loop.

We weren’t quite ready for a strenuous trail, so we opted to do the 2 miles roundtrip to the first and second overlooks.

The first overlook
The first overlook
almost there…
The second overlook

Canyonlands was a quick treat for us. We can’t wait to come back one day to explore the South side of the park and the nearby Dead Horse Point State Park.

Moab was a major changing point for us. We were in a good location where we could head in any direction we wanted. Truthfully, it was stressful trying to decide. If we went West, we’d be starting a “Utah National Parks” trip. If we went North, we’d be starting a “Grand Tetons and Yellowstone” trip…

hmmmmmmm…

decisions, decisions…

Have you been to any of the Utah National Parks or the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone?!
Let me know in the comments which trip you’d rather be taking and why!

Until next time,

j&d

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