The Needles District of Canyonlands NP; Newspaper Rock; Natural Bridges National Monument.
Campground: Site #21; W/E/S; adequate wifi; CATV (we had a poor connection); adequate Verizon cell coverage; Elevation around 7,000'.
Perched on the northeastern slope of the Abajo Mountains, this campground has a few trees and some views of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and a peek of the La Sals to the north.
Our campsite with the Abajo Mountains in the background
Rocky Mountains Colorado from Mountain View RV Park
Lone Cone in Colorado
A Cold front hit the state on our second day and the temps here were a good 10 degrees cooler than Moab. We experienced mid 20's on the second too nights with a blast of snow coming down horizontally on Monday the 30th.
Canyonlands National Park Needles District: is a nice, 50 mile one way road trip from Monticello, or 75 miles from Moab. As a bonus, Newspaper Rock (one of the best pictograph sites in Utah) is along the way. In addition, the scenery along AZ 211 is spectacular with towering red cliffs to the north side of the road that are dotted with rock climbers.
Church Rock is on US 191 opposite the turn off to AZ 211
The La Sal Mountains from the Needles District
From a small campground in the Needles. Note this is not the Hamburger Rocks Campground which is nearly across the road.
Newspaper Rock: Is a rock panel carved with one of the largest known collections of petroglyphs dating back from 2,000 years ago. Pictographs were added over hundreds of years by the Archaic, Anasazi, Fremont, Navajo, Anglo, and Pueblo cultures. We were fascinated as were the few other couples who came and went while we were there snapping pictures and pointing out our favorites to each other. See seems from the hunt, antelope, buffalo and gods.
After talking to a woman at the visitor center we opted to a portion of the Chester Park Trail. After a ver short but very steep start, the hike is very reasonable for a couple miles and has great views.
A steep set of stairs to start the hike. The rest was much easier.
Eventually we got to a good turn-around spot due to the time/distance as well as the knowledge of the increasing difficulty ahead. As we stopped for a short break, I noticed a climbable slickrock and Sandy humored me by waiting as I scrambled up.
From the top, I had really fantastic views.
This elevated view gave a cool perspective of the rocks above the canyon.
Hiking back we were still amazed at the variety of rock formations and the different textures.
I'm calling this one The Fedora.
Natural Bridges National Monument:The Monument is about 40 miles west of Blanding Utah on UT 95. The park has a 9 mile scenic loop road with viewpoints and short trails to other viewpoints or to get up close to the bridges. The loop road is on flat tableland and the bridges are seen below in a canyon. There are 3 bridges and one Puebloan ruin to see. Each bridge is unique visually and structurally. Sipapu and Owachomo rival anything at Arches in grand beauty.
You can see Sipapu Bridge from a roadside viewpoint, but you can get a better view by walking down a trail that hugs the canyon wall. The trail includes some even steps, a set of metal stairs and a ladder constructed of tree limbs bolted together. I thoroughly checked the ladder out before climbing down.
Sipapu Bridge from the rim
The ladder didn't look too secure as I approached it
The top was bolted to the rock so it was pretty stable.
One steep set of stairs
About half-way down a ledge provides a nice viewpoint to Sipapu Bridge, which is the second largest in the country (behind Rainbow Bridge on Lake Powell). It is 220 feet high and spans 268 feet. The trail continues to the bottom of the cavern but I didn't take it as the view I had was pretty good and Sandy was waiting in the car.
The view of the bridges from a large ledge on the canyon wall.
Without a substantial hike, Kachina Bridge can only bee seen from a distance. Horse Collar Ruin is pretty interesting with a good set of binoculars. A couple Kivas could be identified.
A moderate walk into the canyon brings you to Owachomo Bridge. This was my favorite and was really cool to look at from the bottom. A natural bridge is created from water flow and it was neat to see the worn rocks beneath the bridge showing the flow of the bridge carving river. This brige is only 9 feet thick and has what the park brochure describes as a “fatal crack” that could fail any time or last for centuries more. See it while it lasts! I took some photos of what appeared to me as the crack.
Owachomo Bridge from the trail
Owachomo Bridge from the other side.
Lookout at Comb Ridge on UT 95:
Returning to Monticello from Natural Bridges, we passed over comb ridge and an exceptional lookout.
From the top of the Ridge we had views of the Navajo sacred Shiprock Butte in New Mexico, the Colorado Mountains of Telluride and Ouray 80 miles to the East, Navajo Mountain south of Lake Powell in Arizona, The Abajo mountains just to the north and beyond them the peaks of the La Sals. I could make out buttes of Monument Valley directly to the south.
Shiprock Butte is almost invisible on the horizon
West of the ridge there is a turn out on the east bound lane with an incredible view of the green floored valley of Comb Wash sprinkled liberally with the yellow of cottonwoods in full Fall regalia. The west side of the Comb Ridge is as majestic as any view we've seen. Tall red cliffs extend northward for miles contrasting sharply with the green valley.
UT 95 and Comb Ridge
Comb Ridge and Comb Wash
Cold. Snow. Wind. On arrival (Monday) it was about 70 in Moab and 60 here. Still nice. Highs dropped 20 degrees over the next two days. Night temps were in the mid and then high 20's. We fill our fresh water tank and disconnect the fresh water hose from the CG faucet, then store the hose in the front compartment which is under our bed – to keep the hose and especially the water filter from freezing.
Tuesday the winds picked up as the front came in and we had blowing snow that didn't stick but made walking outside miserable. We decided to have a down day and I went through hundreds of photos and we both got to read our books. Wednesday the sun came out but the intermittent gusts of wind would add a little bite to the ears on an otherwise nice day.
Dining and Entertainment:
Not much going on. Monticello is the epitome of a sleepy town. Four lanes of empty roads most of the day with an occasional pick up truck going to the market or a semi truck, both strictly obeying the 30 mph limits. We found a really good barbecue joint on our first night and while we were chomping down feverishly, having just finished a long day of hiking with only a energy bar for lunch, we were already planning on coming pack for the pulled pork nachos. Unfortunately they are closed Tuesday and Wednesday. There is also a Peach Tree Cafe (one in Moab too), that we opted for on Wednesday night after another long day and drive (too tired to cook), but they were closed. A trip through the town while looking at Yelp produced no other results that we could find except two modest looking pizza joints. We opted for the defrosted chicken at the trailer in the end.