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High Adventure with My Sons in Arches, the La Sal Moutains & Canyonlands

High Adventure with My Sons in Arches, the La Sal Moutains & Canyonlands

Old Jul 7th, 2012, 08:11 PM
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High Adventure with My Sons in Arches, the La Sal Moutains & Canyonlands

As each of our children have graduated from high school or college, we’ve established a family tradition of taking them on an outdoor adventure trip. In June, my two sons and I went to Moab/Arches/Canyonlands to celebrate the older son’s college graduation in May. Tip of the hat to Dayle, spirobulldog, and others for their pre-trip suggestions:

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...ab-experts.cfm

What follows is a brief description of our trip.
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Old Jul 7th, 2012, 08:24 PM
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We rent a nicely furnished condo in South Moab through vrbo.com that serves as our based of operations for the next three days:

• Sunday afternoon — Fly in to Salt Lake City and drive to Moab, arriving about 10 p.m.

• Monday morning — Hike the 7+ mile Devil’s Garden Trail (including the Primitive Loop) in Arches National Park, viewing all seven major arches — Landscape, Partition, Navajo, Double O, Private, Tunnel, and Pine Tree — on the trail. Fortunately, in view of the temperatures that approach 100º later in the day, we get a 6:00 a.m. start (fortified by some coffee and breakfast burritos from the drivethru at McDonald’s), take our time on the hike and side trails, and finish by 11:30 a.m. On our way out of the park, we take the short hike under spectacular Double Arch (not to be confused with the Double O we saw earlier in the morning).

• Monday afternoon — After a break out of the sun at our condo and a late afternoon lunch at the Moab Brewery, we drive to Dead Horse Point State Park to take in the sweeping views of the orange rock country in the setting sunlight.

• Tuesday morning and afternoon — An early full breakfast at Moab Diner fuels us for our rappelling excursion with Herb, a guide with Desert Highlights. My wife and I had a great day hiking and rappelling with Herb in Arches’s Firey Furnace a few years ago:

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...s-and-moab.cfm

where I’d gained tremendous respect for his attention to detail and commitment to safety. This time, we drive to the nearby La Sal Mountains that overlook Moab and don drysuits to rope down the seven icy cold waterfalls in Pleiades Canyon. The giant boulders that have wedged at the top of the narrow walls give the canyon a cavern-like feel, and large ice chunks left over from winter hadn’t yet melted. This all-day trip is a welcome respite from the sweltering heat of the desert.

• Tuesday evening — We scarf Mexican food and margaritas at Miguel’s Baja Grill on North Main Street and tarry just a bit too long to catch the setting sun on Delicate Arch, the national symbol of Utah, back in Arches National Park. Nevertheless, we hike up to the arch in the twilight and miss most of the sunset crowd so that we have the arch almost to ourselves as night falls. Luckily, we remember to bring flashlights that make the hike back to the car less treacherous than it might have been.

• Wednesday morning — We sleep in and then eat a delicious mid-morning breakfast at the local institution known as Eklecticafe. We then take the 30 minute drive up to the magnificent high desert plateau that is the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park. We hike short trails to the mysterious Upheaval Dome (is it a volcano? is it a meteor crater?), to Green River overlook, and along the dizzing edge of the 2,000 foot plateau wall to the Grandview point overlook. The 360º at Grandview is flat out one of the most spectacular views we’ve ever seen (and that includes the Grand Canyon and Yosemite).

• Wednesday afternoon — As we gawk over the precipice, staring down at the famous Shafer (jeep) Trail, a lively debate ensues whether we should take this or the safer main highway back to Moab. It’s a 2-1 vote to take the Shafer’s thrilling hairpin switchbacks down the canyon palisade to the White Rim, then continue to pick our way over and around large rocks for a two hour, 25 mile trip to Moab. “Trail” is a generous description of this goat path, which should absolutely not be attempted in anything other than a high clearance four wheel drive vehicle.

• Wednesday evening — We make it back to Moab, but to catch our early morning flight home, we have to return to Salt Lake City this evening. We decide to cap our trip off by taking the longer route — Utah highway 138, the “River Road” that winds alongside the broad Colorado River canyon past the Fisher Tower stone spires — back to Interstate 70 then on to Green River, Price, Provo, and Salt Lake City.

There's so much more to do in the Moab area -- three full days really do not do it justice. Hopefully, we will return, often.
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Old Jul 8th, 2012, 03:17 AM
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Always love reading trip reports. Thanks.
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Old Jul 8th, 2012, 03:27 AM
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I'm Jealous. Plieades certainly looks interesting. I did do a waterfall expedition with Matt and Herb in Oregon that was awesome. If I ever go back to Moab, I'm going to do Granary or Pleasiades. I bet it was super cold though???
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Old Jul 8th, 2012, 08:56 AM
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MRand,

How exciting for you! I'm jealous that you did the Pleiades Canyon trip. The La Sals are fabulous.

I'm also very glad you did the Schafer Trail. Interesting drive. Did you see any bike groups heading up? Did you notice the potash evaporation ponds?

Come back soon!
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Old Jul 9th, 2012, 04:52 PM
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spiro -- the temperature wasn't too cold at Pleiades. We were sweltering trying on the layers of fleece and the drysuits that Matt and Herb at Desert Highlights insist that everyone wear and then again suiting up when we reached the top of the first of the falls at the top of the canyon. But ten minutes later when we were in the thick of the spray and torrent of the first rappel, we cooled off quickly and remained comfortably cool for the next few hours. A great way to beat the heat in June in Moab.

Dayle -- we didn't see any bike groups headed up Shafer Trail and encountered only about a half dozen jeeps or SUVs that were headed up as we were descending. We did see the potash evaporation ponds (there's no avoiding them, right)? That's an eeire, otherworldly hue of blue I don't think I've seen anywhere else in nature.

We will be back -- there's nothing like the Utah backcountry for spectacular scenery and good times.
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Old Jul 12th, 2012, 08:14 AM
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Enjoyed your report! We'll be in the Moab area soon.
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Old Jul 12th, 2012, 09:50 AM
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I always look forward to your trip reports MRand. Thank you!
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Old Jul 13th, 2012, 08:03 PM
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Thanks for the nice words kansasmom and MichelleY. Our first trip to the Moab a few years ago was almost an afterthought, based primarily on the good things we'd read about it here. Little did we know what we'd been missing. I highly recommend anyone interested in the outdoors to take time to visit this spectacular destination.
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Old Jul 16th, 2012, 06:52 AM
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As if anyone would need more incentive to visit Arches, Moab, or the La Sal Mountains, check out the Bing home page photo today (Mon. July 16, 2012):

www.bing.com
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