Canyonlands NP -- Mesa Arch Trail & Driving Tour (4-21-17) - dwhike
Grand View Point Overlook -- 6,080'

Canyonlands National Park, located near the town of Moab, is both Utah's largest and least visited National Park.  Encompassing some 337,000 acres (527 sq. miles) Canyonlands protects a sprawling and majestic landscape of high mesas, deep canyons, rock pinnacles, natural arches, barren peaks, and pristine rivers.  It is quite simply the best of Utah's National Parks all combined into one magnificent natural showcase.  The park itself is divided up into three primary areas...the most visited (and the one shown in this album) is the 'Island in the Sky' district.  This area is comprised of a large, high mesa located in the north of the park between the Green River to the west and the Colorado River to the east.  The Needles and Maze districts are comprise the southeast and southwest portions of the park respectively and are relatively unvisited by the average tourist.  What makes Canyonlands less well-known than its Utah counterparts is a combination its proximity to other more popular attractions as well as the relatively undeveloped and, thus, fairly inaccessible nature of the rest of the park.  The wildly popular Arches and Moab regions lie just to the east drawing millions of tourists a year.  Only about 700,000 of these people, however, manage to make their way down the winding 40-mile road nearby which is the single paved access route into the park.  Its a landscape sprawling in its beauty and all but unspoiled by the hand of man.  To me, that's a combination which equates to as close a definition of paradise as I can imagine.

Our visit to Canyonlands National Park was a bittersweet one.  On one hand it completed our grand tour of Utah's 'fab five' National Parks.  On the other, it was to be the last park visit of our 10-day trip across the southwest.  As it turned out Canyonlands provided the perfect grand finale to a vacation none of us will ever forget.  Our time in the park would be a short one.  After a morning of hikes at nearby Arches National Park we were left with only a few hours to take in, as best we could, what Canyonlands had to offer.  This meant that we would be limited to a drive through the Island in the Sky District and one short hike.  This album  therefore contains a road tour of Canyonlands from the parks north entrance down to the end of pavement at the Green River and Grand View Point Overlooks.  On the way we would take the time to also make the quick 3/4-mile loop hike out to see Mesa Arch, one of Canyonlands signature natural attractions.

So, like our visit, this album is a short one.  Nonetheless, I think you'll see why this particular park left an impression of natural beauty on us that will never be forgotten.  All good things must come to an end...and so this was true for our incredible journey to the desert southwest.  Come along with us then as we make one last walk/drive on the Colorado Plateau and, as always...ENJOY!!!


MESA ARCH HIKE

Trailhead GPS Coordinates:  38.389216, -109.868140

Mileage Hiked:  0.5 miles                    Hike Duration:  0:45

Trailhead Temp:  60'F                          Trail Traffic:  50-100 people

Min. Elevation:  6,100'                           Max. Elevation:  6,180'

Total Vertical Gain:  150'                      Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile:  300'