We drove some 30 miles from our hotel and crossed the border into Utah. Straight away we were at Monument Valley and set off to drive around the unmade road scenic drive between the vast sandstone ‘buttes’ and ‘mesas’. They were very picturesque in the morning light and the character of the rock surfaces reminded us of our early morning walk around Ayres Rock. Shortly some of friends arrived in their cars and we soon found ourselves jostling for the best position to take that epic photo. We wondered what could follow the Grand Canyon – well... Monument Valley fits the bill quite well.
After two hours of jaw-dropping scenery we set off on the road Moab via a place called Meican Hat after a rock formation just out of town. Shortly after this we diverted from the main road to take a dirt road up an escarpment called ‘Moki Dugway’ built to provide access to a mining area. Approaching the road from the valley we could see no sign of where it went, then just caught a glimpse of a car and a puff of dust zig-zagging its way up this near vertical cliff. The road was fun to drive with a sheer drop to the edge of the road and just enough well graded gravel to give a little slip on the corners. Best of all though was the stunning view that we were rewarded with when we got to the top. Rick apparently found out about this road from the internet and got Stuart to include it in our itinerary.
Enough excitement for one day: so we headed along a quiet and pretty road and continued our way to Moab. We saw our hotel on the left just though the town (which seemed rather more affluent than Kayenta) and headed straight for the Arches National Park. We arrived not long after 3p.m. but did not leave until 8 having driven the length of the scenic drive and done two walks – one quite long to see the red rock formations and especially the famous stone arches. Sadly you are not allowed to walk under Landscape Arch any more, since a 180 ton piece of rock fell off the underside in 1991. It is now impressively thin and it is incredible to believe that it is still standing. On the way back to the park entrance, we diverted to see the famous double arch and found Nikki, Paul, John and Denise there already sitting on a rock and having a beer (probably not allowed in Utah!) We stayed with them and climbed up to see the sun starting to come down before returning to town to use a car wash and have supper. We arrived at our hotel at 10 p.m. tired and happy. Utah has certainly made a big first impression.