This morning Jamey woke up sick. The altitude, desert heat and long day yesterday finally caught up with him. I wasn’t feeling well either, but he was really sick. I thought we should just stay at the camper and rest in hopes that by doing that now, we could just pick back up tomorrow with our plans. He insisted we go on and try, so he took some sinus medicine and off we went.
I let my brother know that we would probably end up going back to the campground early and they could just go on without us. Steve and Teresa were planning to join us at the park later. So we split up planning to just each see what we could for the day.
Jamey ended up feeling better, thanks to the sinus medicine. Right around the time he was feeling better, Steve and Teresa made it to the park wanting to meet up with everyone for our picnic lunch. We continued on from there, exploring as much of the park as we could. We still had one more day planned for Arches National Park so we were saving the hikes for day two.
Parker with a double arch behind him
Candi and Parker
Jonathan and Parker
An Arch through an arch
Jonathan and Parker
Trying to scale the boulder…
Parker and Cole
Arches National Park lives up to its name! Here is more information about the park:
There are lots of hikes to choose from here! My favorite place to explore was this area where you walked through a narrow place between the rocks. The area had an arch, places for kids to easily climb rocks and a shady place to play in the sand. Lots of families were there with picnic blankets, sand pails, and shovels. It would be a great place to spend a whole day if you had time!
Candi walking through the narrow path
Entrance to the sandy area
Boys climbing and exploring
Arch in the sandy area
I believe Arches National Park is one of those places you could visit multiple times and still not see everything. Most of the places we went today were easily accessible. The sheer number of arches and rock formations made this an experience of a lifetime!
Our group of 9 crawled out of bed around 4am to head to the iconic Mesa Arch so we could attempt to capture the sunrise. This is a very popular place to capture sunrise through an arch! When we arrived, the parking lot was almost full. We headed down the little trail toward Mesa Arch with lots of other people. There was a hushed silence among the nearly 100 people gathered to get a photo that morning. We were really amazed at how many people were there! It was a little sad to me that everyone was crammed all along the arch because it made it so difficult to actually get a photo of the sunrise THROUGH the arch.
The Mesa Arch trail
Mesa Arch Trail is marked with Cairns- stacks of rocks
The crowd of people waiting for sunrise in the arch
Mesa Arch Sunrise 2019
It’s really something else, isn’t it!
We continued on to see some of the other view points in Canyonlands, before heading to Dead Horse Point State Park. We planned to go check out that park and then head back to Canyonlands to have a picnic.
The legend of Dead Horse Point tells that cowboys used the point to corral wild Mustangs, blocking the only exit with brush they gathered. They would choose the horses they wanted and let the others go. Legend has it that one time, for an unknown reason, the horses were left there, where they died of thirst overlooking the Colorado River in the valley just below the point.
Ya’ll, to me this place rivals the Grand Canyon! The views are striking- the Colorado River carved into the valley below. You can see forever. I was incredibly impressed with the views here!
Dead Horse Point
Colorado River at Dead Horse Point
The overlook area
Another overlook area
One crazy group of adventurers!
View from Dead Horse Point State Park
Please take note of the dirt roads in the valley. Do you see those tiny dirt roads in the pictures? Those are the roads in Shafer Canyon. We didn’t know what kind of crazy adventure we were getting ready to embark on, or that it was even a possibility to drive those roads in Shafer Canyon. The road that winds around the base of Dead Horse Point? Just take a closer look at the pictures above. What happened next was the highlight of the trip according to my husband. I think it’s probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever agreed to do.
Back at Canyonlands National Park
When you start the day at 4 am, you have lots of time to explore! Since we wanted to see more of Canyonlands, and it is just a few miles from Dead Horse State Park, we headed back to the informations center and picnic area to enjoy a delicious lunch with our group.
Teresa, Candi, Cole, Parker, Jonathan and Steve!
Noah, Jamey and me.
While we were at the visitors center, the guys talked with a park ranger who told them about the Shafer Canyon Road. He insisted that you must have a four wheel drive vehicle, plenty of fuel, and good brakes to attempt driving this dirt road. There is an overlook at Canyonlands NP called Island in the Sky. It is sheer drop offs around three sides of the “island” and directly below these sheer drop offs is the Shafer Canyon Road. This is the road I mentioned earlier from the pictures at Dead Horse Point State Park. Here is a link with more information about the Shafer Canyon Road:
We went to the head of the Shafer Canyon road to look at the map and decide if we wanted to attempt it. I was terrified, but willing to do it if the whole group wanted to go. We had the biggest, heaviest vehicle so we led the way. We drive a Chevy 3500 dually. Apparently everyone thought if we could make it then they would make it too. I didn’t take any pictures as we traveled down the very narrow, winding road along the bluffs. There was no place to turn around. We were committed once we began, unless something happened in which case we would need a rescue vehicle to help us. We passed a couple of other vehicles. They all stopped us to ask if we were sure we wanted to try it. They were coming up. Their comments made me even more nervous. Another family followed us down so we had a caravan of 4 four wheel drive vehicles.
I’ve never been so scared. I prayed and sang hymns all the way down as I clung to my door handle. At a couple of turns, Jamey had to make a six point turn just to get through the hairpin curves. There was one hairpin curve where neither of us could even see the road. Noah and I were both ecstatic to reach the canyon basin.
I took this video as we neared the bottom of the canyon. The scariest part of the drive was over:
Here are some pictures as we entered the basin and as we drove through the Shafer Canyon basin along the dirt road. We took the shorter route, turning onto Potash Road. The total drive of 17 miles took us a little over two hours. I would do the drive through the canyon again, only starting from Potash Road and turn around before driving up the canyon wall. The drive through the basin was really cool, especially since we could reference where we were based on what we had seen from Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point State Park.
Shafer Canyon Road
Shafer Canyon Road
Passing another vehicle on the narrow road.
Shafer Canyon Road
Colorado River in the distance
Lovely views on the drive
Views in the Shafer Basin
Staying on the correct road in the canyon is crucial!
Shafer Canyon Road
Salt mines on Potash Road
Potash Road ends near Moab. We drove along the Colorado River where we saw more Petroglyphs and trails to explore but we continued driving because we were pretty exhausted! A delicious dinner of Easy Tuscan Chicken Pasta (https://sanctuary-ridge.com/?s=pasta&orderby=relevance&order=DESC) back at The Portal RV Resort completed our day. Tomorrow we head to Arches National Park!