On my last day in Moab, in August 2016, I went on a couple of hikes outside of the National Parks. My first stop was to Grandstaff Canyon (which at the time had been called Negro Bill Canyon, but has recently been renamed), home of Morning Glory Arch.
From the parking area on Utah Scenic Byway 128, I hiked up the canyon to Morning Glory Arch and followed the same route back. The trail was sandy and crossed a stream many times. There was also plenty of vegetation and shade. The hike was 4.5 miles with very little elevation and took me 2:15 to complete.
After breaking down my weekend campsite I made the short drive to the Grandstaff Canyon trailhead, arriving at 9:00 am. The temperature was in the 70s and the skies were finally clear. I could tell Grandstaff Canyon was a popular spot as there were already a half a dozen cars in the lot.
On the second day of the National Parks Centennial weekend I drove from my campground in Moab to Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. Again my goal was to hike a long, primitive trail, so I headed across the park to Upheaval Dome.
Syncline Loop Trail was a 8.5 mile hike around Upheaval Dome. I followed it counter-clock-wise until I reached the junction with Upheaval Dome Spur Trail. I followed the spur trail toward the center of Upheaval Dome, but stopped short and turned around. Back at Syncline Loop Trail I continued around to the parking lot. Before finishing, I hiked to the First Overlook to look down into the crater. The complete hike was about 10.5 miles and took 6 hours to finish. The terrain was mostly desert, but there was varying vegetation in Syncline Valley, and steep descents and ascents over large boulders into Upheaval Canyon.
The drive from Moab to Island in the Sky was a beautiful drive. The road switchbacked up the mesa’s wall where the horizon fell away and provided spectacular views in most directions. Rain clouds were threatening, but that resulted in cooler temperatures.
In August 2016 I travelled to Salt Lake City, Utah, for a conference. The following weekend was the National Park Service’s centennial and the entrance fees to all parks in the country were free. I rented a car and drove down to Moab for the weekend to visit Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.
I didn’t want to do the most popular spots as I would be visiting the parks in 2017 with my family. l also wanted to target the more primitive and long trails. So, when I arrived in Arches I enjoyed the amazing drive to the far end of the park to Devil’s Garden.
For this hike I took the main trail toward Landscape Arch and followed the primitive trail loop from there. I also took side trails to Private Arch and Dark Angel. The hike was about 6.5 miles with little elevation change. The terrain was loose sand through desert and washes with a few scrambles over slick rock and over sandstone fins (future arches, they say). The hike took me 3.5 hours and was very hot and dry.
After enjoying the gorgeous drive through Arches National Park, one of my favorite drives, I arrived at Devil’s Garden parking lot late in the morning.