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National Parks - 2010 Trip - Day 10

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Start Location: Cortez, CO
Ending Location: Moab, UT
Miles Today: 259
Trip Miles: 3108
States Visited: 8
National Parks Visited: 7
Low Temp: 59.1° F
High Temp: 102.5° F
Min Elevation: 3964'
Max Elevation: 7093'

Route Map:


We left Cortez this morning headed for Canyonlands National Park.  There are two entrances to the park.  When we visited the park in 2006 we went in the north entrance and were going to use the north entrance again simply because it has more roads within the park.  After considering this, we decided instead to go in the south entrance simply because we had not been there before.  Then we turned onto the small side road that led to the south entrance and encountered a sign that said it would be 34 miles just to the park and wondered if we're making a mistake.  We went ahead anyway and it was definitely the right decision.  The ride in to get to the park was as spectacular as many of the parks we have been to.

Canyonlands was formed over millions of years by the Green and Colorado rivers and their many streams and tributaries.  They still flow through the park today and divide it into three distinct sections - Island in the Sky in the north which we visited in 2006, the Needles to the southeast which is where we were today, and the Maze to the southwest which is very difficult to reach and only available for primitive hiking and camping.  We viewed a video at the visitor center which explained much of the history of the park and its unique characteristics.  Then we road through the park, took pictures, and did several short hikes.

After leaving the park, we headed for Moab, UT and Arches National Park.  We also visited Arches during our 2006 trip and decided it deserved an encore.  Arches contains more than 2000 natural sandstone arches including Landscape Arch which is the longest natural stone arch in the world.  Again we road through the park stopping to take numerous pictures and doing several short hikes.

These were both amazing sites but, by the end of a 10 hour day, we were really dragging.  We decided that some day, when we are too old to travel by motorcycle, we should come back to many of these parks and do some extensive hiking.  There are many great hikes in all of these parks which are not especially long or strenuous but just not cut out for motorcycle touring.  Hiking in jeans, leather chaps, and boots just doesn't make it.

For more information on both of these parks, Wikipedia has good articles on both Canyonlands and Arches.  

Not sure where we head from here but probably Capitol Reef and then on to Bryce and Zion.