Matt House Photography

Moab

The last time I was “in” Moab was during a road trip from Oregon to Colorado in February 2014. I had already driven about 8 hours from Zion National Park via Monument Valley. I only stopped to get gas and a snack before continuing on to beat a snowstorm in the mountains of Colorado. The other time I was in Moab, it was for only 24 hours. Did a hike, tried and failed at a climb, ate some food and drove home. This time I wanted to spend some real time in the area and explore some things. So at 6am on March 18th we were Moab bound…in a Front Range snowstorm.

It was odd. Loading the car in boots and a jacket and base layers knowing I’d be in shorts and a t-shirt weather later that day. The drive from Boulder to Golden was terrifying. No lanes, heavy snow, 10-20mph, ice coating the wiper blades. It was 4wd all the way to Eagle, CO where the snow finally stopped.

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I-70 in Glenwood Canyon

I-70 in Glenwood Canyon

Palisade Brewing Co

Palisade Brewing Co

I-70 just over the border

I-70 just over the border

Canyon Country

Canyon Country

Finally at a campsite - Upper Onion Creek Campground

Finally at a campsite – Upper Onion Creek Campground

It took some searching to find a campsite. Friday afternoon mid-Spring Break, driving down toward Moab to Big Bend and then back up canyon to Onion Creek. We managed to snag a site with a great view of the Fisher Towers.

Camp with the Fisher Towers in the back

Camp with the Fisher Towers in the back

The rest of the surroundings around camp

The rest of the surroundings around camp

After 7 or 8 or 9 hours in the car we just hung out at camp, made dinner and then went to bed.

The moon rising over the Fisher Towers

The moon rising over the Fisher Towers

The Fisher Towers

The Fisher Towers

Castleton Tower, The Rectory and The Priest from camp

Castleton Tower, The Rectory and The Priest from camp. There is a person on the summit of Castleton but it’s hard to see.

Ariel casually reading on Mars

Ariel casually reading on Mars

Looking toward Castle Valley, Castleton Tower, etc

Looking toward Castle Valley, Castleton Tower, etc

Adobe Mesa?

Adobe Mesa?

Adobe Mesa Sunset

Desert Cottontail

Desert Cottontail

Desert flowers

Desert flowers

Last light on the Fisher Towers

Sunset on the Fisher Towers

Last light on Castleton Tower

Last light on Castleton Tower

Desert sunset

Desert sunset

Camp at night

Camp at night

Jupiter over camp and The Towers

Jupiter over camp and The Towers

Mini star trails over the valley, lit by the moon

Mini star trails over the valley, lit by the moon

One more tent shot before bed

One more tent shot before bed

Woke up right at sunrise...

Woke up right at sunrise…

First light on the cliffs

First light on the cliffs

Breakfast!

Breakfast!

It was a casual morning. Making coffee and breakfast, waiting for the sun to come up over the surrounding cliffs and warm everything up. There wasn’t really an agenda. It was Saturday. We had to go do something but we weren’t sure what. So we lounged around for a bit. Made more coffee.

First light on Castleton, The Rectory and The Priest

First light on Castleton, The Rectory and The Priest

The sun rising behind The Titan

The sun rising behind The Titan

We came up with a plan. Go to Arches National Park and then figure it out from there. Ha. That plan fell apart when the line to get into Arches stretched down the highway. Ok, I know there are some petroglyphs and dinosaur tracks and random hikes down Potash Road. So we turned around and headed that way.

Onion Creek Road

Onion Creek Road leaving camp

Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs

We stopped at the Poison Spider Mesa trailhead where there are some easy to spot dinosaur tracks. Oh hey look a trail to Longbow Arch. Let’s do it. We made some sandwiches in the Montero, filled up water, and started hiking. It seemed like most people were there for either the short hike to the dinosaur tracks or starting the 4wd route up Poison Spider Mesa. We only passed 2 or 3 groups during the hike to the arch.

Looking back toward the start and the Colorado River

Looking back toward the start and the Colorado River

Ariel hiking up

Ariel hiking up

Ariel climbing with sandwiches

Ariel climbing with sandwiches

Sandstone Domes

Sandstone Domes

Hiking above the Poison Spider Mesa road on the left

Hiking above the Poison Spider Mesa road on the left

After a relatively short walk across slickrock and sand, we reached the Arch in a cool canyon.

Longbow Arch

Longbow Arch

Young 1900

Longbow Arch

Longbow Arch

Hiking around the slickrock

Hiking around the slickrock

Juniper roots

Juniper roots

The sandy trail through junipers

The sandy trail through junipers

Poison Spider Safari Route

Poison Spider Safari Route

Climbing back down

Climbing back down

We looped around to check out the petroglyphs close to the trailhead

Desert Bighorn

Desert Bighorn

Warriors?

Warriors?

Tribe Petroglyph

And the dinosaur tracks

Allosaurus Tracks

Allosaurus Tracks

Not sure what to do next we stopped at Big Bend to climb around a bit.

UT 128

UT 128

Big Bend Bouldering

Big Bend Bouldering

We still had a couple hours before sunset. With the full-ish moon, a night hike sounded like an awesome idea. But dinner was back at camp. So alright, let’s go get the food from camp and then drive into Arches and cook dinner there.

UT 128 and the Colorado River

UT 128 and the Colorado River

Arches NP back roads

Arches NP back roads

There is a 4wd road off of the Delicate Arch Viewpoint trailhead that we drove down to set up for dinner. It had a decent view of Delicate Arch from a distance. We could see and hear the huge crowd of people that were up there for sunset. So glad we weren’t surrounded by all that.

Ariel cooking Dinner. Delicate Arch in the back

Ariel cooking Dinner. Delicate Arch in the back

Close-up of the Arch crowds

Close-up of the Arch crowds

Long shadows

Long shadows

Arches Sunset

After sunset we cleaned up dinner and got layered up for the night hike to Delicate Arch. We passed at least a hundred or two hundred people on the way up to the Arch. It seemed that only a handful of people were either hiking up in the dark like us or had stayed up at the Arch to take photos. Experiencing the Arch by moonlight was an unforgettable experience:

Delicate Arch and the La Sal Mountains by moonlight

Delicate Arch and the La Sal Mountains by moonlight

Looking away from the Arch

Looking away from the Arch

The basin around the Arch

The basin around the Arch

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch

Ariel under Delicate Arch

Ariel under Delicate Arch

Looking up from under Delicate Arch

Looking up from inside Delicate Arch

I could have stayed there all night taking photos as the moon changed the shadows. But we had 35 minute hike and an hour drive to get back to camp. So we headed out.

The next day was a day for driving the Montero off-road as much as possible.

Sunrise in the tent

Sunrise in the tent

Camp in the morning

Camp in the morning

Castle Valley

Castle Valley

The plan was to drive to the end of Potash Road to get to the Shafer Trail and check out a little bit of Canyonlands National Park. Then if we had time, take the Gemini Bridges Trail back to Moab. During the whole thing I would say it only required 4wd in a couple spots. Mostly just higher clearance was necessary. Here’s a whole bunch of pics from all the driving:

Crossing the cattle guard usually means there's fun ahead. Or cows.

Crossing the cattle guard usually means there’s fun ahead. Or cows.

Shafer Trail

Shafer Trail

From inside the Montero

From inside the Montero

More Shafer Trail. Sandy through this part

More Shafer Trail. Sandy through this part

Rocks

The Montero

The Montero

One of the viewpoints above the Colorado River

One of the viewpoints above the Colorado River

Ariel looking smaller than usual

Ariel looking smaller than usual

Montero in front of the La Sals. Parked on the edge of a cliff.

Montero in front of the La Sals. Parked on the edge of a cliff.

Montero on the left. Colorado River on the right.

Montero on the left. Colorado River on the right.

Muddy Colorado River

Muddy Colorado River

Montero

Montero

Cool rock columns

Cool rock columns

Who knew there was a speed limit

Who knew there was a speed limit

Entering Canyonlands National Park

Entering Canyonlands National Park

Shafer Trail going into some canyons and crossing creeks

Shafer Trail going into some canyons and crossing creeks

Going up the switchbacks

Going up the switchbacks

Looking down the Shafer Trail switchbacks

Looking down the Shafer Trail switchbacks

Getting close to the top

Getting close to the top

Shafer Canyon and the White Rim Trail

Shafer Canyon and the White Rim Trail

Ariel at the top of the Trail

Ariel at the top of the Trail

From the Shafer Canyon overlook

From the Shafer Canyon overlook

At the top of the Shafer Trail is the Canyonlands National Park Island in The Sky visitor center. We stopped there and had lunch in the parking lot. Grabbed a couple post cards and a map. Then after checking out a couple overlooks we headed toward the Gemini Bridges Trail.

Gemini Bridges Trail

Gemini Bridges Trail

There is a lot of access to mountain bike trails and other 4wd trails from here. Also a short hike to a couple arches (The Gemini Bridges) that we accidentally passed. Oops. It’s cool though. The whole drive is insanely scenic.

Up on the plateau

Up on the plateau

A few rocky parts make this whole trail 4wd and/or high clearance

A few rocky parts make this whole trail 4wd and/or high clearance

It's almost like a naturally paved but bumpy road

It’s almost like a naturally paved but bumpy road

Gemini Bridges Trail going through some cool features

Gemini Bridges Trail going through some cool features

Driving under Eagle Rock

Driving under Eagle Rock

The other side of Eagle Rock

The other side of Eagle Rock

There are a few backcountry sites off the road that seem really cool. I’d like to come back at some point and stay there instead of an established campground.

Getting back to the highway down some steep and rocky sections with a nice cliff on one side

Getting back to the highway down some steep and rocky sections with a nice cliff on one side

After getting back to the main road we hit up the Moab Brewery for dinner. Definitely should have tried a different place as the brewery was packed and not really that good. Oh well. It was the last night so we just headed back to camp to hang out and have a campfire.

The next morning we woke up, made breakfast, and packed up. The Onion Creek road was next to camp all weekend, and all weekend I wanted to drive down it to check it out. So after packing up we went for a drive to see what it was about.

It was awesome! The road crosses the creek about 30 times on its way to some other roads that eventually link up to the La Sal Loop. Seems like a really cool trip in itself. Definitely want to check it out in the future.

Onion Creek rock formations

Onion Creek rock formations

Onion Creek Road

Onion Creek Road

Towers along the road

Towers along the road

Such a cool area. I really want to get back and mix some off road driving with climbing. Maybe in the Fall…

We took turns driving sections of the road on the way back. Then I took over at the highway and we started the long slog back to Boulder.

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