June 9, 2011 – Canyonlands National Park: We were camped at Green Rivers Campground over off Route 70 because the much nearer Dead Horse Point State Park Campground was full last night, so it was an hour and a half drive to get back to Canyon Lands. This park is a full week visit all by itself – we were only allowing one day and what a full day it was. We were at the “Island in the Sky” end of the Park and rented their “Tour Disk” which we highly recommend – it’s like having a Ranger in the car with you. The “Island” was created by two mighty rivers – the Green River (well upstream from where we’re camping!) and the Colorado River – the same water that carved the Grand Canyon. The Green River carries as much sediment as the Colorado and once it joined the Colorado it’s easy to see how the combined force could carve the Grand Canyon.
We hiked the Rim trail, Grand View trail, Mesa Arch trail & Upheaval Trail – a total of around 5-6 mi which gave us a nice overview of the “Island”. There are no guard rails here and the average cliff drop is somewhere between 500’ and 2000’ and unfortunately our stunt doubles called in sick so the pictures are really us.
Probably the highlight for both of us – if we had to pick one – was at the end of the day when we drove down the Shafer Road Trail. This was originally used for cattle drives, then was “improved” during the Uranium Mining Boom of the 1950’s. It’s one lane in most places with thousands of foot drop offs if you make an error. It connects you with the White Rim road which winds for over 100 miles thorough out the park. It is visible as a thin white line in some of the photos that incorporate long vistas.
Any fan of old west novels – Zane Gray, Louis Lamour, Max Brand, etc, has read of these lands. They were where the bad guys hid out from the law – probably one of the most famous names, recognizable to all, would be Butch Cassidy who looked on the area as a “winter resort” – much warmer than his more northern summer haunts.
We highly recommend reservations to camp in the area after June 1, and bring your bug repellant – the gnats are out and when the wind is calm, they’re voracious. Also, bring water and food if you’re coming to Canyonlands – none is available within the park.