|SATURDAY, AUGUST 12 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 13
Our Arches NP visit started with a 9:30 AM Ranger Talk at the Courthouse Towers formation. Our leader was Martin, a member of SCA, Student Conservation Association. This is similar to a Peace Corp program. HS grads, college students and grads volunteer to help with conservation projects throughout the United States. They are given a housing and food allowance. Martin graduated college with an environmental science degree. He is hoping to become a National Park Ranger. Martin pointed out many of the formations in the area and spoke about the many plants and how they have adapted to the harsh weather conditions. We found a daisy blooming in the middle of a patch of grass. No other daisies in the vicinity. Apparently a seed landed in the middle of the small patch courtesy of the wind or a bird and it took hold.
Entering the Arches you go through five short switchbacks to start the trip. It is neat to watch from the road below as vehicles make the climb. When we arrived at Courthouse Towers three tour buses were in the parking lot. Later two more buses arrived. One bus carried European tourists, the others had Asian passengers.
The Windows area and the Campground of Arches NP are closed indefinitely for major road repairs and renovations. We traveled back to the many pullouts to get better views of the formations. During the 1 mile hike for our view of Delicate Arch we ascended 400 ft. The hike to the base of Delicate Arch was 3-4 hrs. round trip. Our view was quite nice, no need for heat stroke! The sight of Balanced Rock was amazing. The base of Balanced Rock is softer than the rock it holds. One day the Rock will be balanced or in pieces on the ground.
By 1 PM the temp was over 90 and we were ready for a break. We headed back to camp to do laundry, get showers and some housekeeping in the RV. We attended 5 PM Mass at St. Pious X Church. It was another church with a small but active congregation.
We had dinner at McStiffs and walked around downtown. At the Coffee & Cream Café they served Cryo-Cream. Same as the Rocket ice cream we had in Nappanee, IN that is frozen with nitrogen as they mix it from liquid. It was yummy! Moab was very busy with tourist traffic.
Sunday morning we checked out of ACT and headed a bit north to Canyonland NP and Dead Horse State Park. The first formations we sighted were the Monitor & the Merrimac, named as such because they resemble the two ships from the Civil War. We drove the Island in the Sky route. This area is populated by many mesas that form spectacular canyons. We did the 1 mile Mesa Arch Trail. Well worth the hot walk. When we returned to the RV the outside temp was 92, inside it was 104! The Green River Viewpoint showed us bends in the Colorado River far below. We drove through the Willow Campground. It was very nice with cement pads for the picnic table with a pergola overhead.
We drove on to Dead Horse SP. It is so named for the peninsula at the end of the drive. Legend is that cowboys drove wild horses out to the peninsula and cut off their return by blocking off their return with brush and fencing. After many years the herd dwindled and after the last roundup the cowboys chose the choicest horses and blocked the rest on the peninsula to die, thus the name of the park. We found great views of the surrounding area at the last viewpoint.
We made it back to our campsite at Horse Thief CG in time for a spectacular sunset. This is a BLM camp and with our Senior NP Pass it was $7.50. Enjoyed wine and cheese at our picnic table watching the last of the sunset. It is designated a dark sky area. The night sky glistened.