The Great West Trip 2023: Part 6

 This is a cross-post from Flyin' the Coop
Our next destination is definitely a hidden gem, so get ready for a huge photo dump. I had trouble deciding which pictures to include in this post.

CH's brother told us about this place. What he didn't tell us about was the washboard roads getting to the destination. The road was pretty desolate; we kept checking to make sure we were going the right way. There are only dirt roads with very few signs along the way.
Where is this place? The Little Grand Canyon, just north of Arches National Park in Utah. This area is part of the San Rafael Swell. I'm a little surprised this isn't considered a National Park, but it is BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Land. Which means you can camp wherever you want as long as there are no signs contradicting that. 

It seems like it took hours to get to the top. In reality, it probably only took less than 2 hours. But, when you're driving on washboard roads, listening to everything in the van rattling, it seems a lot longer. When we made it to the top, I couldn't believe what I saw. I haven't been to the Grand Canyon yet. I don't know if this would have made such a big impression on me if I had been there.
There are no words to describe this beauty so I'll just let the pictures do the talking:
We were a little disappointed that we couldn't camp right at the top. 
We were the only ones there. We didn't see anyone else until later in the day as we were driving out of the canyon. It was over 100 degrees, so that may have had something to do with it.
As you can see in the pictures/video, rain was starting to come in. There are some designated camp areas in the canyon but not knowing how long it was going to rain or how much rain there was going to be, we decided it would be smart to get out of the canyon and find another place to spend the night. The drive out of the canyon was stunning:
We came across a couple of vehicles with what appeared to be college students at the pictograph panel. It was kind of a relief to finally see people. 
Human and Snake
Rain Angels? It was determined that the lines were drawn on purpose and weren't a product of dripping paint
Maeve parked in front of the pictographs
Since it was raining, I did a quick "jump out and take pictures" but didn't linger long. We didn't want to get caught at the bottom of the canyon in the rain...just in case.
The San Rafael Bridge is right beside one of the designated campgrounds. It was built by the Civilian Conversation Corps between 1935-1937. It used to be the only bridge across the Green River until the 1990's. It is now only open for pedestrian use. It is listed on the National Register of Historical Places.
A quick word about the campgrounds in the area: They are equipped with vault toilets and picnic tables, but that's it. We thought about staying at one but, since it was at the bottom of the canyon and we weren't sure about the weather (plus there was no cell service) we decided to try to find a place to boondock. There were no people at any of the campgrounds, probably because (as mentioned earlier) it was over 100 degrees with no shade. 
The rain cooled things down rather nicely. We found a spot just outside of the canyon and about a 20 minute drive to the interstate to stay for the night.
We slept incredibly well. As I said in a previous post, even though our cabin air conditioner wasn't working, we kept cool by closing all of the doors/windows except for the one over the bed and turning on the MaxxAir Fan.  We headed out the next morning before the temperatures started rising too much.
View on the way to the highway as we said started heading more south
Our next stop was Arches National Park, just under 2 hours away. More beautiful views as we drove:
Arches was, in a word: HOT. It wasn't as crowded as I expected. We had to make a reservation to enter the park and it was very easy to do. I was concerned that we weren't going to be able to get in when we got there, but we had plenty of times to choose from. No worries at all. I think there may have been 2 cars ahead of us at the gate. We were given a window of time to enter. As with the other parks we visited, there are times when a reservation is not needed...early in the morning and in the evening. We arrived around 11:00 a.m., drove around a bit before we headed out. 
The iconic arch. I was surprised it was so far away from the trail. And up a hill. So I viewed from a distance.
The green rock was from a time when this area was underwater. Volcanic ash landed and where it landed, it's lack of iron in the water turned the rock green instead of red.
Fiery Furnace
The formations were really cool to see. All you could do is stand in wonder at what nature has done to the landscape over time. 

To be perfectly honest, we kind of rushed through Arches because of the heat. July is definitely not the time to go if you want to get out and really explore. Plus, with the lack of humidity, it was rather hard to gauge our dehydration. So we stayed in the air-conditioned van and drank plenty of water. Then we decided to not go into Moab but head toward cooler weather in Colorado. 
Maeve in front of the Fiery Furnace
Until next time...

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