Day 8: Grand Canyon North Rim to Moab, UT
This day was a much longer drive than expected for some reason, bu it started out great! We had a leisurely morning at the Grand Canyon, visiting the coffee shop and looking around the lodge before hiking around the visitor’s center area in search of views of the side canyons.
From there, we sat in the car for probably 8 hours. Much of the driving from Arizona to Moab is on U.S. Highways, which, while scenic, are anything but fast to drive on. We finally reached I-70 for the last run into Moab, but in order to get there we had to cross the longest stretch of any Interstate with no motorist services – 119 miles from Salina to Green River, UT through the San Rafael Swell, a weird landscape of angular rock pushed up millions of years ago. It is so foreign looking that apparently they shot scenes from the Planet Vulcan here for the most recent Star Trek movie.
Moab is a super cool town. I had visited once previously, doing some hiking and canyoneering in the area. Since we had some time to kill in the evening, we headed over to Arches to see the rock formations in the dying light (third National Park sunset in 3 days!)
Day 9: Moab Rafting
I actually have no pictures from today, but it’s for good reason, as we headed out on the Westwater Canyon section of the Colorado River for some whitewater rafting. The most memorable rapid is a nasty one called Skull which runs at Class IV, although it wasn’t nearly as tricky as the guides built it up to be earlier in the day. I had a blast, and the sights in the canyon were really unique.
Evidently some of the oldest rock in the world is exposed in Westwater – a formation called the “Vishnu Schist”. Clearly everyone spend the rest of the day making schist jokes.
Day 10: Moab to Dillon, CO
This was a short day by design, so we took some time in the morning to revisit Arches and see some more of the… well, arches.
The rest of the day consisted of driving out of Utah along I-70 to Frisco, located right in the heart of Colorado ski country. We could start to feel the altitude a bit again here!
The rest of the trip took a more relaxed pace than the more structured tour of the national parks in the Southwest, and we all appreciated the chance to spend a little more time outside the car for once.