Posted on November 20th, 2014 by Brenda
OK, so I teased you a little bit on our last blog post about Moab and all the fun we had.
Let me just say this, WOW! Moab has a lot of activities to do and two weeks was really not nearly enough time to do it all.
This will just give us an excuse to go back there. Oh darn.
Moab is a town of just over 5,000 people however it hosts millions of people every year.
People from all over the world, yes I said world, come here to explore, hike, rock climb, raft, off-road, mountain bike and so much more. Known for it’s rock formations and off-roading trails, Moab hosts several worldwide competitions throughout the year. It also has some of the most beautiful scenic byways in America. It truly is a unique place and we cannot wait to go back.
One of the things really we wanted to do was some off-roading with a Razor. There are so many different trails to choose from, one cannot possibly do them all in one visit. Without having ever driven a Razor, we felt it was prudent to take a tour and see the area before we rented one and went out on our own. This was a good way to get used to the machine and what it is capable of.
We took a sunset tour with Moab Cowboy and they were great. They had no issue with us hooking all our GoPro’s up onto the machines and David even took along the quadcopter. The tour took us on the Hell’s Revenge Trail. The name in itself can be daunting but they assured us that they take people on this all the time. Once you hit the Sand Flat’s Recreation Area just a couple miles out of town, you come across Hell’s Revenge and the first obstacle is a hill climb with long drop offs on either side of you. If that doesn’t scare you off than you should be ok for the rest of the trail. One of the best pieces of advice the guide said was “trust the machine” and that we did. It’s amazing what these machines are capable of.
The tour was great! It was just us, the guide and one other Razor. We were able to stop a few places, found some dinosaur tracks and had some breathe taking views.
After that, we were hooked. We were excited for our next adventure, to rent a Razor from the Moab Tour Company for the day and go out on our own.
But going out on your own is not as fun unless you bring along some friends. In the park that we were staying at, Portal RV Resort, we met some others, Carol & Barry, Kristi & Jim and Kurt & Cricket and we hit it off so well we all decided to go out on the trails together. Our new found friends Carol and Barry own their own Razor and had been to Moab several times before. So they knew of all the best places to go that may not be on the tourist map for off-roading.
One of the places they took us, which happens to be on BLM land and is plentiful out there, was Sevenmile Rim Trail. This is a 20-mile loop trail that has some difficult spots to it. We found it challenging but fun. And being with friends made it even more fun.
Our lunch stop was Tusher Tunnel where at the other end had some spectacular views. It is super dark and narrow though. So when walking through, you must keep your hands up and out so you don’t bump your head.
When we left Sevenmile Rim Trail we ended up traveling through some dried up river washes and across some more BLM land before we made it back to the park just before dinnertime. It was a great day and you could not wipe the smile off of our faces nor the dirt. If you wind up going off-roading be prepared to get dirty. Here’s a picture of David at our lunch stop. Note the seatbelt mark from the dirt.
After dinner we still had a couple hours of light left, so we set off on our own to hit another trail. We decided on one closer to town. Back to the Sand Flats Recreation Area we headed and attempted Fins and Things Trail. This was a challenging trail but we felt confident that we could do it, or we wouldn’t have tried it.
As the trail went on, the sun got lower and the shadows got longer. Our Razor did have headlights but we did not want to be out there in the dark trying to attempt this. So about half way through there is a turn off back to the main road. We opted to take that and go back in the morning.
Finishing up Fins and Things Trail in the morning was a good move. We still had the Razor rental until noon so we had plenty of time to finish without feeling rushed. It was a cold morning, just mid 40′s but it was beautiful. We finished the trail without issue and much to our dismay, returned the Razor.
So enough about off-roading. Another fun thing we did was to hire a guide for a private horseback riding tour around the red cliffs. MHCowboy, aka Matt, took us around the red cliffs and much to my dismay, up the cliffs. Now I am not, shall I say, a strong horseback rider but Matt really took care of me. David is very comfortable on a horse as he grew up riding thanks to his big/little sister Linda (inside joke). Yes, in upstate NY we have horses too. I took what I learned about off-roading and applied it to the “original” off-roading machine, the horse. I kept saying over and over again in my head was, “trust the horse”. I figure he’s not going to want to fall off the side of a cliff, so just relax.
It was a dreary start to the day but it cleared up nicely for a great ride. We were out about 3 hours and yes; my butt was sore for days afterwards. It was totally worth the soreness afterwards.
Matt was a great guide showing us some petroglyphs along the rock faces and talking about the area.
When we got back we kept laughing about how my horse realized how inexperienced I was and took advantage of my nice nature to stop and eat every chance he got.
Oh well, it was still a good time and we’re glad we did it.
We had so much fun in Moab that this is one place that we can see ourselves coming back to time and time again without getting bored. And sorry about the long blog post, we just can’t say enough about how much fun we had in Moab.
David took the quadcopter and several GoPro’s on our adventures and shot some great footage that he mixed together. So if Moab is not on your radar for places to visit, hopefully this will change your mind. (It’s on the longer side being just over 4 minutes, but it pounding music keeps it moving.)
Posted on November 10th, 2014 by Brenda
The first two weeks in October we spent exploring Moab, Utah and the area around it. Let me just say that two weeks was not nearly enough time. There is so much to do in and around Moab and we kept busy doing some of these things, yet I feel we barely touched the surface.
First off, we stayed at Portal RV Resort. Now this place has two different sections you can book. One is an owner’s section and is much more plush. The other section is for non-owners and is more of a campground, although still nice. We chose to stay in the owner’s section even though it was a little more money. We wanted to be parked on cement rather than gravel and have more space between our neighbors and us. I’m glad we did. The campground section was tight for a big rig. Although it could be possible to park there, we would not have been comfortable. You are pretty close to your neighbor. Our Verizon worked well out there and surprisingly enough, their wifi actually worked. So that was a plus.
The resort itself is right off of the main street that travels in and out of Moab, however, it is really quiet. It’s far enough off of the street that road noise is not an issue. We would definitely go back there.
I can’t believe this is the only picture I took of our site. We sat up on a little hill so we looked over the top of other rigs. Our view was of the mesas and red rocks found throughout the region. There was plenty of room to stretch out and our SUV could be parked behind us without issue. Although I am lacking in the picture department, David did a nice video of the resort so check that out here.
So just up the road from Portal, about 5 miles, is Arches National Park. Touring National parks is not high on David’s priority list. He would rather travel off the beaten path where there are no people and explore the unexplored. I would have to agree but I did want to see the park since we were here.
There is a nicely paved road in and out of the park with many overlooks and hiking trails along the route. The one place that was on my radar was Delicate Arch.
The parking lot was full by the time we got there at 9:30 in the morning. So we already were not starting out well. The hike itself is a 3-mile (round trip) strenuous hike. You find yourself on dirt trails, high inclined slick rock and finally hiking around a cliff face. You gain 480 feet in elevation on this hike and seeing that some of that is on a side of a long drop-off, I would not recommend it for someone afraid of heights.
The reward for all that hard work is certainly worth it when you finally reach Delicate Arch. It’s a magnificent view all around. We, along with many others, were sitting around a large alcove catching our breathe and taking in the scenery. Others were hiking that little bit more down to the arch to get the iconic picture of them standing underneath it. You can really get the feel of the shear size of this arch with the people underneath it.
Once back at our car, we headed further down the road to more overlook areas. Being early afternoon now, everywhere we turned was full of people.
We visited the Fiery Furnace, another popular hiking trail that actually requires a permit because you could easily get lost. We did not hike it, just took some pictures at the overlook and moved on.
We were getting tired of all the people so we decided to call it a day. After looking back, I have to say that Arches, while nice in itself, was not my favorite place to visit. Way to many people. It seemed like a free-for-all. Tour buses everywhere with the people just inundating the trails and overlooks. It doesn’t really make for a fun time when it’s so crowded. Maybe that’s just us though.
One place we did enjoy more was the Manti-La Sal National Forest. Now when you think Moab, I’m sure you picture slick rock and red rocks, rock climbing, off-roading and mountain biking adventures. While that is all good and well, what you may not think of is a lush National Forest with lots of trees, cooler temperatures and views of the snow capped mountains.
Being only a few short miles from Moab, we drove the loop road to experience this place for ourselves.
October seemed to be the perfect time of year to visit. With the trees in full-on Fall colors and the cooler temps, it made for a lovely afternoon drive.
When you hit the loop road, you quickly gain altitude and with that, spectacular views. I just cannot say enough about the saturation of colors we saw.
So I’m going to end this post here. We did some other adventures in Moab but I’m going to leave you hanging.
Here’s a teaser…
Until then, enjoy this video David did of all the nature shots around the Moab area. He did a really great job on this one. Enjoy!
Posted on November 3rd, 2014 by Brenda
Moving up the road a whole 23 miles from Bluff, Utah to Blanding, Utah wasn’t terribly interesting. We made this move rather than staying put because it got us closer to some other attractions. There are a few attractions near Blanding that make this a worthwhile stop.
Our first stop was a visit to Natural Bridges National Monument. The drive out there on route 95 was pretty and around every corner there were spectacular views. A real treat we were not expecting was a run in (pun intended) with Team RWB. We did a blog posting on the running team here.
Once we got to Natural Bridges we drove the scenic loop and stopped at many of the overlooks.
There are many hiking trails off of these overlooks where you can take to get up close and personal with the natural bridges. You can even hike down to one bridge and travel the loop trail to all three bridges. Keep in mind that it is a 8.6 mile round trip hike which, based on the terrain, will take you all day.
Now don’t get Natural Bridges confused with Arches. While they look similar they are different based on how they were formed. Air and wind currents that eventually punch a hole in a rock; creating an Arch, form arches. A Natural Bridge is formed by a waterway below it that carves out an opening. That waterway may or may not still be present but it is the main factor for creating the Natural Bridge. More info on these two differences can be found here.
We did end up hiking down to the last natural bridge. It was pretty amazing to see this bridge in all its glory. Walking under it, touching it and sitting underneath it just looking up and seeing the big puffy clouds. It was a nice stop to just breathe. Oh and fly, seeing that we were alone.
Once we were back on route 95, heading back to the motor home from a long day of exploring, we ran into a little bit of stopped traffic.
Route 95 is not a terribly busy road, to say the least. However, cars were stopped ahead and everyone was out of their vehicles. There’s no way around so we came to a stop and asked what was going on.
Apparently after we had passed through this area going into Natural Bridges, there was a rockslide and it was now blocking the road. Talk about timing. The work crews were there and the rock was so big they had to blast it apart to clear the road.
We had just missed the blasting when we arrived but it was still going to be a little while before we could get moving again. So we did what everyone else was doing. We got out and enjoyed the view. There could be worse places to be stuck. Luckily we were only held up for about 20 minutes before we were able to start heading down the road again.
The next day we headed to the Edge of Cedars State Park and Museum, located right there in Blanding.
The Anasazi Indians (early Pueblo people) made this large corner of Utah and some of Colorado there home. The museum houses the largest collection of pottery on display. It was pretty impressive.
This is also the place that you can go into and explore a Kiva. That was pretty interesting as most places you can only look but not touch. This was a 1000-year-old Kiva that really gave you a sense of how the ancient Anasazi people lived.
The grounds around the museum housed several large art pieces as well. This one that David is standing in had cut outs of animals and such. So when the sun shone down on into the sphere it made various shadows that told a story.
The museum and park were worth the admission fee and if you ever find yourself in this small little town, this would be worth a stop.
Speaking of which, one stop that was just ok and not spectacular was the Dinosaur Museum, also right in town.
If you are a dinosaur movie buff, then this is the place for you. I think the curator of this museum is a total movie buff and it seems made these displays of the dinosaurs around all this movie memorabilia and posters. When you are walking around the walls are filled with old movie posters. Not the type of thing we expected to see in a museum.
What we also thought we were seeing, and were expecting, were actual dinosaur fossils and bones, were in fact castings. So that was disappointing. There were a few actual fossils scattered about but the majority were castings.
It was still on ok stop but nothing I would go out of my way for.
As far as Blanding itself, we would have no reason to go back. As I would assume most people just use it as a stopping point between several attractions in the area. We stayed at the Blue Mountain RV Park, which was an easy in and out stop. However, like most places that we visit, their Internet was terrible and unusable. Verizon was ok but it was better when it was in the booster. The view though was amazing. Our spot was sitting up on a hill and we were overlooking the mountains. At least they thought about facing the sites towards the view and not the road.
Posted on October 23rd, 2014 by Brenda
Valley of the Gods is a scenic road through the backcountry of southeastern Utah, near Bluff. It’s a 17 mile long dirt and gravel road that winds it’s way through the valley.
Reading the reviews for the Valley of the Gods roadway, people were saying that they drove it without an issue in their sedans. So surely we could drive it without an issue in our Saturn Outlook SUV.
OK…now having driven through Valley of the Gods in our SUV, I can honestly say that the people that have driven through there in their sedans were nuts. A vehicle with a high clearance is recommended and 4×4 is preferred. While we did OK, we are by no means considered high clearance. And yes, we did scrape the bottom of our vehicle a few times.
The road is sandy and bumpy with steep inclines/declines to be thrown in for more fun. There was one point where we approached a very sandy wash that had been pretty much washed out and in order to cross it I had to get out and guide David’s tires along the one path where he wouldn’t sink into the fine powdery sand.
We just kept commenting on how expensive it would be to have a tow truck come out and pull us out of the sand. You are after all, out in the middle of nowhere.
We did have fun though despite the nail biting once in a while. It would have been more fun to do this trail in a Jeep or some other type of off-road vehicle.
Hardly anyone else was around, I think we saw a total of half a dozen cars the entire time we drove the 17-mile road, which was very peaceful. There are plenty of places to pull over and stretch your legs and go for a hike. They even offer tent camping in some areas.
David took some opportunities to fly the quadcopter and get some nice aerial shots of the area.
While it wasn’t the best looking day being overcast and kind of gloomy, he managed to get some great video.
We were warned that flash flooding can occur at any point. Even if the rain is miles away, you could get trapped in this area with water fast filling the washes until it clears out again. It’s best to watch the sky and forecast and go when you know it’s clear. We had no rain when we went, however, towards the end we did see some rain in the distance.
It took a few hours to drive the 17-mile stretch road. So keep that in mind when planning your day.
Another thing to keep in mind when you are traveling this route is you are really close to Goosenecks State Park. This is a great little state park with some awe-inspiring views. So make sure you give yourself some time to make this short detour.
It’s a small state park with a self pay kiosk of only $2 bucks a vehicle. There’s not much else to do in this park but look at the magnificent views and the San Juan River, which carved it’s way through the desert at over 1000 feet below.
I would not recommend driving to it in a big rig, however, it could be done. You would just have to take your time as the road in and out is windy. There should be plenty of room to turn around only if the parking area is not full. The parking area is gravel, however the road in and out is paved. When we were there, there were a few people. It’s not a very popular state park I would imagine, as there are no hiking or biking trails.
It was worth the quick stop since we were in the area for Valley of the Gods and you drive right past the street that goes into the park.
All in all it was a great day of scenic overlooks and drives. Make sure you have plenty of water for both locations, as there is no shade.
You are in the Utah desert after all.
Here is a quick video David made with some low speed flying and high aerial views…