Moab’s Soaring Island District
Our next two days in Moab, we focused on the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. We have been to Island in the Sky many times. Its sandstone cliffs, which hover 1,000 feet above the adjacent landscape, are a spectacular spot from which to appreciate the immensity of the wild sea of chasms that envelops the Colorado and Green Rivers, a sea that has been carved out by water and wind over eons.
Speaking of water and wind, our first day in Canyonlands that disorderly duo was eager to carve what it could out of us. But we didn’t let the 20-25 MPH drafts and downpour gambles stop us from exploring and enjoying.
We first trekked out to the White Rim Overlook, just a 1.8-mile ramble on pretty level ground. The payoff for that small bit of effort was huge. This viewpoint looked down on nearly 360 degrees of canyon splendor topped with a radiant crown of salty white, the White Rim. Salt is quite flavorsome but not usually enthralling.
Next, we made the 3.6-mile journey out to Murphy Point and back. Murphy Point, which faces Candlestick Tower and sections of the Green River and White Rim Road, had a remarkable backdrop of its own but both Jason and I agree that the White Rim Overlook overlooked better scenery.
Our last hike of the day was a 2-mile jaunt to the top of Aztec Butte with a detour to an adjacent butte to see two Anasazi granaries. Aztec Butte, from its base, looks like an insurmountable wall of warped stone but we, like many before us, successfully scrambled up its sharp 200-foot slope in order to partake of the uninterrupted panorama at its flat top. The other points of interest on this route, the Anasazi granaries, have been preserved in the alcoves of a sandstone rim for almost a thousand years, tangible echoes of a voice that has been silent a millennium. Great hike!
The next day, we stopped at a new dinosaur tracks museum, Moab Giants, before heading to Canyonlands again. The area around Moab is covered with an unusual amount of dinosaur tracks so it is a very fitting place for the only tracks museum in the world. We spent a couple hours learning about tracks and wandering among 100 life-size ancient beasts on Giants’ half-mile trail. Who wouldn’t fancy running from a T. rex? (Dang it, why didn’t I remember to bring my high heels?) It was awesome.
The last trail we hit in Canyonlands before returning home was Neck Spring, a 5.8-mile loop that curled through ever-changing terrain and cattle ranching remnants. We didn’t see a single soul while we were on this path. Most excellent! Plus, the mix of extreme drops, decaying troughs, and meandering springs made the journey pleasantly distracting.
We had a great time in Moab but we always do. If we didn’t, it would be our own dumb fault.