Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Canyonlands with the kids

This weekend we made another trip to Moab.  We stayed at the same awesome place, and added another day to the itinerary so that we'd have more time to explore.

Tops on the list was to get into Canyonlands National Park, a massive and spectacular place with two entrances an hour or less from Moab.  I was struck by a couple of things before we even got there.  First, that the entrances are for parts of the park that cannot be accessed from one another.  There are places in Canyonlands that are only for the seriously hard-core hikers: you bring in your gear, and your water, and your compass, and you can see some of the most amazing petroglyphs in the country.... but you've gotta find your own way out.

The White Rim, seen from Green River Overlook
Anyway, with four kids ages six and under, that was clearly not for us.  But with the help of another amazing visitors center, we not only got our National Parks passports stamped, but we also had some Junior Ranger materials (and a backpack) in hand, and we were off to explore.

We spent our day in the Island in the Sky section of the park, which has the closest entry to the town of Moab.  First we did the half-mile loop to Mesa Arch, where we got some serious vertigo along with sweeping views of the landscape.  Even the Bunny did great on this, although she did stop to point out every flower along the way. 
Peeking through Mesa Arch

Next, we eschewed the cliff-grazing hike to Grand View Point, instead scrambling up the formation known as Whale Rock.  The 2-mile round trip felt so much shorter since it was all rock hopping.  And I learned that I have a serious fear of heights when my kids are on the same planet as me.  I might even have gotten chewed out by the Bug for freaking out unnecessarily.
Looking west from atop Whale Rock

The kids were wiped after our hikes, but we did stop to take a look at the White Rim.  Roughly 1,200 feet below where we stood was the next "ledge", with another 1,000 foot drop to the river below.  The distances are vast, the formations are stunning, and if nothing else you feel like a tiny drop in the bucket of time.  I could have just looked for hours, and hope to someday hike down into this moonscape.

Aztec Butte
We only got the tiniest glimpse of Canyonlands, and all (including the kids) came away thinking we've seen the parklands to beat.  We collectively cannot wait to come back and check out more of this incredible place.

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