We left Lake Walcott in Rupert, ID, and started to amble eastward. We were heading back east because we will be wintering in Florida again. We know winter is still a long way off, but we want to have plenty of time to enjoy more one and two-week stops along the way. We also have a few specific places in mind we would like to visit.
One of those specific stops was Moab, UT, and Arches National Park. We were there last year, and we decided we both like Moab in general and Arches National Park specifically. There is such a variety to the rock formations - sharp, jagged rocks; big, blocky rock walls; smooth, rounded rocks; tall spires; balanced rocks; red rocks; gray rocks; and tan rocks.
Moab is about 8 or 9 hours from Rupert, ID, so we found a little city park in Spanish Fork, UT south of Salt Lake City where we would stay 3 days. We planned to stop at the nearby Wal-Mart to stock up before heading to Moab, which has no Wal-Mart. We knew Canyon View RV Park was nothing fancy, but they had a very reasonable rate of $12 a night. It would be a nice boost to our camping budget since we are spending a lot of time in high-priced tourist areas this summer.
Canyon View Campground is a parking lot adjacent to Canyon View Park that has had water and electric hookups added. The spaces are a little short and a little narrow, but the campground was almost empty when we were there so crowding wasn't an issue. There are picnic tables in little clearings carved out of the trees behind the sites, so we had a little grass for Molly.
The temperature was 92 degrees when we arrived in Spanish Fork and there wasn't a breath of air. Being on black asphalt when it was that hot wasn't a good idea, because the campground only has 30 amp electric, which meant we could only run one air conditioner. Molly doesn't seem to do as well in the heat now that she is 14. Although it was hot in the rig during the day, at least having the AC running constantly pulled the humidity out of the air so it was bearable.
Since there was hardly a breath of air when we arrived, we were curious about the small wind farm in the valley just beyond the intersection of the main highway and the road that runs past the campground. There was so little wind, only two or three of the generators were turning when we first drove by, and those few were turning very slowly.
Well, after the sun set, we found out why they had the wind farm. When we went to bed, it was a little breezy so we rolled up the awning. By 2:00 AM, the wind was so strong it woke us. We put down our internet dish so it wouldn't be damaged by the gusts. Apparently, after the sun goes down, the cooler air begins to blow down out of the mountains. The wind blew 30 to 40 mph (with higher gusts) two of the three nights we were there. The last night was a little calmer, but it was still pretty windy.
Although we were happy Canyon View Campground had a dump station, it isn't very conveniently located. It is at the end of the parking lot so you can't pull straight through. You have to sort of parallel park at the end of the lot to get lined up. Also, the curb at the end of the lot is curved making it hard to get close without scraping your tires. On top of all that, the parking lot isn't level at the dump station so we had to use our jacks to level the motor home so the tanks would drain. However, Paul's experiences made the whole dumping exercise seamless. After dumping, we hooked up the car and were on our way to Moab.
Of all the places we visited, Margery felt more "cheated" at Arches because of her bad knees than anywhere else. Although you can certainly hike in places like the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce; you can also see most of the major sights within a few hundred feet of a vehicle. You can also see many of the features of Arches a short distance from the road, but there was something different about Arches that seemed to call us into the landscape.
By the time we got there last July, Margery's knees had deteriorated to the point where walking through Wal-Mart was difficult so anything more than about a quarter mile or anything on uneven terrain was pretty much out of the question. Now that she had her knee surgery and can walk so much better, we planned for our route to go through Moab so we could hike to a few of the special places in Arches we missed last year.
At Moab, we stayed at Moab Rim RV Campark. Moab Rim is a member of Passport America and has no restrictions on your stay during July and August. Moab Rim is a nice RV park with wide, gravel roads, gravel pads, paved patios, decent space between sites, and some sites have 50 amp electric. The last item was important after our stay at Canyon View with only 30 amp electric since we knew Moab can be very hot in July and August (hence no restrictions on Passport America in those months). As you can see by the photo of our site below, there were rugged, red rock walls behind the campground.
From the campground, there is a nice view of the La Sal Mountains to the east and of some slickrock (slickrock is smooth sandstone) across the valley on the other side of the road. Unfortunately, Moab Rim is just far enough outside town to be in a somewhat commercial/industrial area with repair, rental, and construction businesses along the road. The view of the slickrock was marred by a storage lot across the road where there were a couple of old RVs, several cars, an old pontoon boat, and where truckers would drop off trailers for a few days. The road that runs in front of the campground is U. S . Route 191, which is a major north-south route through Moab so there was a fair amount of traffic noise even inside the rig with the air conditioner running.
Moab Rim is still a nice campground, especially for the half-price Passport America price of $14 (plus $2 for 50 amp) plus tax, and the owners seem to be investing in improvements. The concrete patios look new, there are newly-planted trees between the sites, and they were installing an irrigation system for the new trees when we were there.
The Colorado River crosses the valley where Moab lies just to the north of town. To the northeast (upstream), the river flows from Colorado. To the southwest, it flows through Canyonlands National Park. Scenic Route 128 follows the Colorado upstream. It is along this stretch of the river that local outfitters lead rafting and float trips. The water is swift in spots, but you wouldn't really call it white water rafting. The river flows through a deep canyon with a beautiful variety of rocks along the walls.
A few miles up the Colorado is Red Cliffs Lodge. The lodge looks like a nice facility with its own restaurant, a winery, horseback riding, meeting rooms, and plenty of outdoor activities. The photo below is a view of some of the guest rooms from the porch of the office.
The reason we stopped at Red Cliffs Lodge is they have a free Movie History Museum. Hundreds of movies, TV commercials, print ads, and music videos have been made in the Moab area; and the museum has posters, photos, and props from many of these plus a history of some of the ranchers and local residents. John Ford, who directed many John Wayne movies, made so many movies around Moab it came to be known as John Ford country. In the photo below, Margery is reading about the history of some of the local ranchers.
A little way past Red Cliffs Lodge is a turn off toward the La Sal Mountains. A few miles down that road are rock formations known as (from left to right) the Priest and Nuns, the Rectory, and Castle Rock. Castle Rock was once used for a Chevrolet commercial where a car was lifted to the top of the tall spire by a helicopter.
Below is a closer view of the Priest and Nuns (left) and the Rectory. With a little imagination, you can see the priest and at least one of the nuns.
From these rock formations, the road begins to climb into the La Sal Mountains.
We stopped at an pull-off to look back down Castle Valley where we could still see Castle Rock and the Rectory.
The La Sal Loop Road travels through the northern edge of the La Sal Mountains then returns to the highway to the south of the campground where we were staying. As we approached the highway, we could see the rock wall that runs behind the campground.
Since we had driven along the Colorado upstream both this year and during our visit last year, we decided another thing we wanted to do was to take a drive along the Colorado River downstream from Moab. The river enters a canyon shortly beyond the turnoff from the main highway just like it does upstream of Moab.
Along the way, the road passes several hiking and primitive camping areas and several rocks containing Indian petroglyphs. Unfortunately, most of the petroglyphs in this area have been exposed to the weather and are pretty faded. There is also a very unusual vertical arch called Jug Handle arch.
After about 17 miles, we arrived at a potash plant where various salts are extracted with water from deep beneath the earth and refined for use in fertilizer. A little beyond the potash plant, we could see the red cliffs of Dead Horse Point State Park.
The paved roads ends about 1.5 miles beyond the potash plant and joins the unpaved 4 x 4 White Rim Trail and Shafer Trail in Canyonlands National Park. Our Vue doesn't have very high ground clearance, so we decided against trying it and returned to the cool motor home instead.
With the Colorado River, interesting rock formations, and the La Sal Mountains, there is a lot of beautiful scenery in the Moab area. But it was Arches National Park that drew us back to Moab so Arches will be our next adventure.