RV Trip 2015 - Wyoming & Utah - Part 3 of 4

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Day 16, Wednesday, 09/23/15

We got an early start today (for us) to visit Dinosaur National Monument before a long drive to Moab. We watched a short film in the Visitor Center that depicted the history of the fossil finds in the area. (Look up Earl Douglass if you want to read all about his work here.)

And then we made the short drive over to the Quarry Exhibit Hall, located over the world-famous Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry, where you can view a wall of approximately 1,500 dinosaur bones. Even though we couldn’t always make out the fossils in the wall with the aid of the accompanying sign, it was still very cool. They have lots of educational exhibits and there are places where you get to touch some of the fossils!

On the road again, we crossed into Colorado for a few hours, then back into Utah, and headed for Moab, home of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

We drove a brief stretch on I-70 (we almost entirely avoided the Interstates, in favor of more scenic roads), and encountered our first-ever 80 MPH speed limit sign!

Today was a long drive, but it was definitely “up there” in terms of scenic drives (after we got off the interstate and headed towards Moab along the Colorado River). We agreed that this stretch of road, and Logan Canyon in northern Utah, were our favorites so far (that is, in terms of scenery while driving).

Took about a million pictures, so the final set of pics represents a monumental culling effort. (Really, really gorgeous scenery, so it was really, really lots of photos to sift through and whittle down.)

We stopped at Castle Creek Winery (about 14 miles from downtown Moab) for a free tasting, and bought a Cabernet and a Merlot, very reasonably priced at around $15 each.

When we hit town, we were pretty much ‘running on fumes’ and so we stopped to fill up before heading to our chosen campground. While Chris filled up the coach (with the SLOWEST gas pump ever, about 50 minutes to fill our 80-gallon tank!), I called to see if we could get in at our chosen resort. We had hoped to stay at Riverside Oasis in Moab, but they were full. (I guess I haven’t mentioned it before, but while Chris chose lots of places (and some alternates) during his route planning efforts, we never made reservations since we were never sure when we might spend an extra day somewhere.) So we ended up with a spot at Archview RV Resort & Campground about 10 miles north of town.

We settled in our spot and made cocktails, and then I noticed that our neighbors (two spots over) had some very cool grape-cluster patio lights strung from their awning. After cocktails (and my first glass of wine), I screwed up the courage to go over and ask them where they bought them. They were very friendly--Pam & John. I stayed there chatting for so long that eventually Chris joined me and the four of us chatted away as though we were longtime friends. They were traveling with 3 cats. (I met them too.) After chatting for a few hours, we said goodnight--we still needed to have (a now rather late) dinner.

Day 17, Thursday, 09/24/15

This was our day for seeing both Arches and Canyonlands. We got to Arches fairly early. Chris had read that it can get really busy, with the line for the entrance backing up to the highway, at which point they won’t let anyone else in. The line wasn’t too bad when we got there, but it did indeed grow quickly.

By the time we were heading up the initial switchbacks and looked back down, the line extended all the way back to the highway.

We did a whirlwind tour of each park, starting with Arches.

We checked out the ‘Double Arch’ (walked a short trail from the parking lot).

and walked part way to ‘Windows.’ Saw one of the pair of windows (North).

Took lots of pictures from the RV ‘cause there was so much beautiful scenery and not always a pull-out large enough for an RV.

The road into Canyonlands (20-30 miles in from the highway) was scenic in and of itself, and we stopped in the shade of a cliff for lunch.

First stop on our tour, we hiked out to Mesa Arch. The trail was a loop, though the sign didn’t provide any recommendation for which direction you should start with. (I would have gone clockwise, but we went ‘straight’ ahead from the sign, like most people seemed to be doing (both coming and going). There was a small crowd at the arch when we got there. People (as in strangers) were taking each other’s pictures sitting under the arch (ah, the instant camaraderie of tourists!). There were probably 20 people there by the time we decided to leave. We returned the other way (making a loop) and had the trail to ourselves.

Back at the coach, we headed next to the overview for Green River Valley. (The Green River is the chief tributary of the Colorado River.)

There wasn’t a lot of water, but what there was, was definitely green (as was what we’d seen of the Colorado in the area). Some of the empty canyons it carved out were quite ‘snaky.’ It reminded us of the Snake River we’d seen earlier in the trip (which was also green).

One more stop on this tour: Schaeffer Canyon Trail lookout. We had caught a glimpse of the canyon on our way to Green River and decided we would definitely pull over for a picture there on the way back. I didn’t like the lighting quite as well as earlier, but when I got out and walked up a very short trail to a secondary overlook, it was well worth it. There was a very large rock on the cliff wall that looked like it had been scooped out with an ice cream scoop, and a very snaky dirt trail far below with intrepid bike riders on it (and an occasional truck). It was a short, but very nice tour, and then back to the same campground (Archview) as the previous night.