Having to change my initial plans due to the wildfire in Bryce Canyon, I decided to head to Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. These parks are a 400+ km drive from Bryce Canyon, so I had a long days drive ahead of me.
With my car’s top down, the desert sun shined down on me while I drove through valleys and little country towns, and over mountains up to 3km high. By the time I finally reached Canyonlands National Park it was already 4 pm, leaving little time to see the park. So I set out to see the Mesa Arch and enjoy all the views on the way there.
After my swift visit to the Mesa Arch, I headed back out of the park to find a campground near Arches National Park, where I planned to go hiking the next day. This drive was an hour of stunning views on rocks shaped by millions of years of erosion. As I didn’t plan any of this day, driving over the Colorado River was a pleasant surprise. Such a beautiful and iconic river, running for 2,334 km through five American states into Mexico. Sadly, all the Federal campgrounds on the river bank were filled to capacity, forcing me to find a different one.
The next morning I rose early, packed up my stuff and headed into Arches National Park. My goal for the day was to hike the Devil’s Garden trail, a 12 km hike passingly the incredible arches for which the park is named. These creations of Mother Nature are really something special. Complete rocky structures with huge holes in them but keeping their structural integrity. I hiked the trail without my full backpack, which already felt like I missed something, that’s how fast I got used to the extra carried weight.
After I finished the hike, I hopped back in my car and made my way to my last destination of the trip: Monument Valley. A two hour drive brought me to a completely different world. Red desert sand stretching as far as the eye can see, where the randomly placed enormous rocks, which stood tens to hundreds of meters high, made you question how they were formed.
Months before, I had the genius idea of booking a campsite at The View Campground in Monument Valley. When I had done the Valley drive I found out why the campground had been named that way. An unobstructed view on three giant rocks in the East, which meant I was set for an unbelievable sunrise the next morning. During the night I also tried my luck at photographing the night sky and especially the Milky Way, the latter made ever so more difficult due to the Moon’s position.
The next morning I made a short hike in the morning and drove to my hotel close to Las Vegas, where I would fly back home on the day after.
This trip was planned as a nice training for my Pacific Crest Trail adventure of next year, but it turned out to be that and so much more. The sights I’ve seen have made a lasting impression on me and I hope to see much more of these incredible things in my travels starting next year.
This post concludes my trip to Utah and Arizona. Thanks for reading. In the coming weeks I’ll do the promised write up on my gear for the Pacific Crest Trail and a more general post about the my travel plans and the preparation that’s going into making it happen.
Thanks to my friend Man Ko for letting me borrow his Sony Alpha7II, which greatly increased the quality of my pictures taken and made me doubt my initial choice of camera for next year.