Red Rocks of Utah
What a difference 500 miles make, from the incredible alpine mountains of Grand Teton to the red rock canyons, hoodoos and cliffs of Utah. I love the contrasting colours here, the red earth and rocks of the cliffs and canyons, the bright green river valleys and the white rock all colliding below an unbroken blue sky.
The warm sun isn't unwelcome either nor the swimming holes and plunge pools. Our initial idea of donning a rucksack and hiking off into the wilderness for a few days didn't seem very appealing given the 35 degree temperatures, so another activity was required.
Moab is famous for it's slick rock, we'd cycled here years ago, but again the temperatures put us off that idea. Lets rock climb, we haven’t done that for years we said, so an area called Ice Cream Parlour was researched and off we headed down a narrow, winding, dusty track, nearly colliding with weekend ATVers speeding around the corners. The area was great, nice easy bolted routes to get our toes and fingers re-accustomed to picking our way up the cliff face. We only had a couple of hours before the sun came around the corner and turned the routes into a fiery furnace that burnt our fingers and melted our rock shoes.
Next up, canyoneering, this was something we had only done with a guide years ago, so given our small budget we decided to go it alone. Armed with a roughly sketched map, directions from a website, a rope, harnesses and helmets, lots of water and a snack, we headed into Arches National Park, our destination The Petrified Sand Dunes and Dragonfly Canyon. What fun this was, following the passage made by flood waters through this canyon; squeezing through narrow gaps, leaping into potholes and shrieking at how cold the water was, abseiling down dried up waterfalls and gazing in awe at the beautiful shapes and curves carved into the rock by the flood waters.
A couple of hours south from Moab is Escalante and Grand Staircase where we headed out on another very dusty, windy, bumpy road into the desert. Here we camped and after reassuring ourselves that the rattlesnake we saw earlier under our truck had gone, we sat out watching the Milky Way make it's way across the sky.
After a morning red sky that matched the earth we headed out to explore a couple of slot canyons. These were dry canyons, so no squealing at the cold water, nor were they as deep as Dragonfly, so no rope required. But a hundred photos, seven miles of clambering, squeezing and crawling, countless jaw dropping and OMGing at the beauty, we emerged back into the bright sunlight and flat desert scenery.
We have a sticker on Red that says Utah Rocks, it truly does.