On the Way to Canyonlands National Park

I had intended to return home through Yellowstone and The Grand Tetons, but the amount of smoke I encountered the week before convinced me I should return through Utah. I’d originally intended to spend a day at Arches and a day at Canyonlands National Park, a park I’d never visited before. I tried to book a campsite in Arches, but discovered there wasn’t a single opening for two weeks. When I got there I found out why: October is peak season in Moab. In fact, there were so many people that I ended up staying my first night in a BLM site ten miles south of Moab, and if I hadn’t stopped early it would have been full.

As it turned out, I was quite pleased with the site, especially since it only cost $6 with my Golden Age Passport, and it reminded me of some of my favorite places in the Mojave Desert.

Ken’s Lake Campground

I went to bed as soon as it got dark and got an early start for the southern part of Canyonlands, so early that it wasn’t quite light when I stopped for this shot of The Eye of the Needle.

Eye of the Needle

It was so dark that only the fact that I was shooting HDR made it possible to make the shot looked like it did to me at 6:00 AM.

Since I was running early I took a detour to Needles Overlook before heading to Canyonlands National Park. I’m glad I did, too. It offered a spectacular view of the southern half of the park, though even a HDR shot doesn’t do justice to the view.

Needles Overlook

This closeup does a little better job of showing just how rugged this country really is.

Needles Overlook

I would have loved to have a four-wheel-drive vehicle so that I could explore more of the backcountry, but that will probably have to wait for the next lifetime.

Though the main appeal of Needles Overlook is the view looking down at the Colorado River and what water, particularly flash floods, has done over time, I probably spent nearly as much time looking at the trees on the site as I did the view.


Anyone who loves bonsai would have to love the rugged trees in the park, hard not to admire the hardiness of trees that seem to grow right out of solid rock.

Although the rocks on the ridge aren’t nearly as impressive as those below, they have the advantage of actually being close enough to take a relative closeup.

Rocks at Overlook

Rocks like this almost make me want to grab a geology textbook and figure out what causes such intriguing shapes and textures.

4 thoughts on “On the Way to Canyonlands National Park”

  1. Super shots Loren – I did spend a holiday in the Canyonlands a few years ago so they brought back memories – good ones too.

    1. You’re going to need a jeep.

      There are some great backpacks, but probably not nearly as ambitious as you’re used to. The hardy individuals head out in 4-wheel-drive convoys.

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