Pinnacles, Arches, and Canyons - Oh My!
Slideshow of our campsite in Canyonlands
The piece of the road trip pie I was most excited about did not disappoint. The initial goal was to camp in either Canyonlands or Arches National Parks, but of course they were full. These sites can sell out a year in advance. Instead we stayed at the Needles Outpost, a private campground in the Needles District of Canyonlands, discovered on the hipcamp website. Situated a mile from the Needles visitor center. the grounds feature spectacular views from every site, plenty of space between and around the sites, and excellent amenities.
Amber and Caleb, the couple who owns the land, have created a camping paradise within a geologic wonderland. Our site was butted up against a red-rock plateau, which provided excellent rock scrambling opportunities and my own private yoga landing. Facing any direction we were met uplifting views.
(FUN FACT: Uplift, in geology, is the vertical elevation of the Earth's surface in response to natural causes. Many of the rocks exposed in Canyonlands were deposited near sea level. Today, the average elevation here is over 5,000 feet above sea level – a significant uplift.)
The close proximity of Canyonlands and Arches to each other make for a stimulating double whammy of a trip. I can't decide which I liked more - Arches is much smaller and more dramatic, and you can see and hike a few of the best features in a day. Canyonlands is a little less traveled and felt a bit more magical. It's a park I must revisit as I only experienced one of the four districts, each of which easily take up a full day.
Slideshow of Arches and Canyonlands
Today, packing up was slow and messy. Every inch of our gear is covered in red dirt! We decided to cut out a stop out of our journey, both so we could deal with cleaning gear and because we are weather weary. I do want to see Great Sand Dunes National Park at some point but today wasn't the day. With a late start, it would be close to dark by the time we got there, and the overnight temperatures are below freezing. We're tired of freezing nights. So we combined two legs into one. long. drive. Straight to Palo Duro Canyon we go, where the weather is warm and the hikes are plenty. Two nights and one full day will give us time to clean and sort gear while checking out -yet another- canyon.