Our last day in Moab we set out very early to try to beat the heat. The red rock walls surrounding our campsite were beautiful in the early morning light and at sunset as the sun lit up the walls to a bright red. We had early morning guests to greet us as we were getting in the car.
Canyonlands National Park, established in 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson, has canyons, mesas and buttes carved by the Colorado and Green Rivers and their tributaries. There are four areas of the park with “Island In The Sky” being the most accessible, hike-able and favorite of tourists. Island in the Sky sits atop a massive 1,500 foot mesa with beautiful views and a twenty mile scenic drive, making it truly feel like an island in the sky.
Once again we used Gypsy Guide as our tour guide as we drove the scenic drive through the park. We were able to get in two hikes before the heat became unbearable by starting early. First we did a short hike to Mesa Arch.
A much longer hike took us to the Grand View Point Overlook with amazing views. We had to climb at times over “slickrock” which is the name the early settlers gave the rock because their horses’ metal shoes couldn’t grip the rocks’ surface.
Here is a video of the view: https://youtu.be/smzHZQlX49s
On the way home we stopped by Dead Horse Point State Park. The overlook, 2,000 feet above the Colorado River, provides breathtaking views of Canyonlands National Park in the distance. From the viewpoint we could look across the canyon and see the cliff where Thelma and Louise drove their car off the edge at the end of their movie. Legend says that around the turn of the century cowboys herded wild mustangs roaming the mesa top, surrounded by sheer cliffs on all sides, across the narrow neck of land only 40 yards wide and onto the point. The neck was then fenced off with branches and brush to make a corral. However one time, for some unknown reason the horses were left corralled on the water-less point where they died of thirst with the Colorado River within view below them.
Movies filmed in Dead Horse State Park include “The Lone Ranger (2013), Mission Impossible II, Thelma and Louise”.
Here is a video of the view: https://youtu.be/cdQ6LFRX88w
Colorado River Trivia:
- The Colorado River supplies water to the states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, California, Nevada and New Mexico. It starts as a small trickle of snowmelt high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and begins a 1,450 mile journey through mountain canyons and three deserts.
- More water is exported from the Colorado River’s 250,000 square mile basin than any other river basin in the world.
- Seventy percent or more of its water is siphoned off to irrigate 3.5 million acres of crops.
- At one time every drop of water was pumped or diverted to cities and farms in the U.S. and Mexico before it had a chance to reach the end of its 1,450 mile journey to the ocean.
- Today that has been changed due to federal laws, court decisions, contracts and regulatory guidelines, including agreements between the U.S. and Mexico which allows Mexico to store water in U.S. reservoirs.