Red Sandstone Deserts

We left the mountains of Colorado and headed west into the deserts of Utah. Even here in the desert there had been a lot of rain the the week before, enough to damage some of the roads as well. Moab is the nearest town to two stunning national parks: Arches and Canyonlands. The town was surrounded by the red sandstone cliffs that the area is famous for. It was atop the steep mesa (flat topped mountains) at Arches that we came across the unbelievable structures that the park is named after. These delicately coloured half hoops are scattered throughout the desert landscape, accompanied by tall spires and buttes of sandstone. In the evening and morning light they constantly change colour from flaming oranges, reds, pinks and purples all within minutes. A photographer’s dream but also quite frustrating as it was hard to capture the exact shade on the camera (Steve will attest to this as he moans constantly about shifting through the hundreds of photos I take).

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Canyonlands National park is made of the canyons formed through the red sandstone by the Colorado and Green rivers and where they converge. The park road took us to the top of the mesa with scrubby desert all around, nothing special so far we thought…until we saw the view down! The canyon stretched out below at least 500 metres at least, in thousands of jewel coloured layers. The different view points strung out across the top of the canyons gave us an unbelievable lesson in geology and how beautiful it can be. This area is aptly named “Islands in the Sky”.

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Our campsite in the park was just the sort of place we love: an amazing view, very few people, with no facilities and surrounded by stunning scenery. An evening under the stars and an almost full moon with a distant thunderstorm lighting up the clouds completed the evening. We had realised again in Moab that RV parks are not really our thing: lots of huge RVs (way bigger than us) squashed into a small lot in a town. The Moab one even had a high school band that practiced every morning at 7am right next door. However we do need something like that once a week or so, to get all the jobs done, so needs must.

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On our second day in Canyonlands we decided to visit the other part of the park and although it was 20km away from where we were the preceding evening because there was a wacking great big canyon between them we had to take a 200km round trip to get there. Also stunning the “Needles” sections had far more sandstone spires and bizarre mushroom shaped sandstone structures than the northern section.

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8 thoughts on “Red Sandstone Deserts

  1. Lovely, Gilly. Looks like a great trip so far. Those photos of SF, seals, GGB, redwoods, Monterey aquarium, Grand Canyon and even Bakersfield bring back my memories of my life in CA – many years ago. You are right – photos cannot do the GC justice nor the Redwood forests. It’s so deeply moving to be there. Good luck on the rest of your trip around the Americas!

  2. Steve, Sasha congratulates you on your photos! Amazing views, excellent disposition, a lot of natural color – all this brings back memories of our travel to the Great Canyon last year. Impressed by your daughters’ success in hiking!

  3. You can never take a bad picture in Arches! Beautiful photos. We are glad to hear you got out of the disaster zone without incident and are in sunshine and good weather. We are enjoying the “ride” from the comfort of our home as you continue on your journey and look forward to your next entry. Safe travels. ‘Hello’ to the girls from Dillon and Lily. Chris and Steve

    • Thanks Kerri and Sydney. We’ve been enjoying your travel posts too. Good to hear your still having a great time too. We’ve been really enjoying your home country and all it has to offer.

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