Part 13: Moab, UT to Mesa Verde, CO


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The Trip

We stayed at the Canyonlands RV park doing chores -- laundry, shopping, draining and filling tanks, etc.  And, could you ever make a trip to Moab without purchasing "tourist trinkets"?  We fell into that trap and got shirts and bumper stickers and some awesome Yeti insulated tumblers.  These tumblers were pricey, but boy do they work.

While we were in Moab, we used the time to explore the LaSal loop and do a drive-through at Arches National Park.  From Moab, we headed to Grand Junction to address my failed laptop hard drive, along the way purchasing a new laptop.  From Grand Junction, we headed to Grand Mesa and then south to Mesa Verde, CO.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

We took Thor on the LaSal loop.  There were plenty of pull-outs to allow photos.

From the loop, we could see Castle Valley below.

We stopped at a Forest Service campsite for lunch.  The aspen trees were fully green despite the 9,000+ foot altitude.

The exit from the loop in Castle Valley gave us a nice view of the local monuments.

Our path took us right past the Colorado River which was running high with spring runoff.  Flow was estimated at about 38,000 cubic feet per second.

We passed a number of river raft tours in progress.  These day tours are run out of Moab.  The air is hot (about 100 degrees) but the water is ice cold from the snow melt.

We did a quick drive through Arches to see the sights.  Above, several arches are visible on the far fin.

These "standing rocks" were close to the drive, but were tame in comparison to those that we saw on the White Rim Trail.

A pull-out on the drive gave us a distant view of "Devil's Garden", a set of fins in the north portion of the park.

Our first view of Delicate Arch, Utah's state symbol.  We declined on the opportunity to hike to the arch as the afternoon temperatures were at the 100 degree mark and it is a 3 mile round trip hike.

We did hike to an overlook point and a telephoto lens is almost as good as legwork.  The height of the arch can be estimated based on the people standing underneath.

From Moab, we headed east to Grand Junction,CO (the closest "big" city that had an Apple store) to address my laptop.  I gave them my old unit for disk replacement and data recovery, but they could not recover any data.  Kathleen saved our bacon with her recovery program and since the drive had failed on the White Rim Trail all of those photos were at risk.  Luckily, I got them back.  I also bought a new laptop and plan to use the refurbished old unit as a video server in Thor.  Once we were through at the computer store and done shopping, we headed west to Colorado National Monument to spend the night.  The Monument is on a ridge on the west side of Grand Junction and has a very steep road to get to the top of the mesa.  The road had three tunnels that claimed 10.5 foot clearance (which would have precluded our travel).  But, we decided to test it anyway and found that height is at the right edge of the lane.  Solution?  Take your half out of the middle.

The view from the top of the mesa was stunning.  Visible in the distance are the Book Cliffs with the Colorado River in the middle of the photo.

As the sun set, I took another photo that shows the Fruita valley to the north and the Book Cliffs.

Next morning on our exit from the park to pickup the repaired laptop, we got a great view of the cliffs of the mesa.

I used the same middle-of-the-road technique for the tunnels on exit.  No traffic, no issues.

The sun highlighted a prominent hoodoo.

After getting the laptop and some supplies, we headed up Grand Mesa to the east of the city.  The top of the mesa is over 10,000 feet and there was still plenty of snow and closed trails.

Snow is visible on the north edges of the rim of the mesa.  Odd to think of the valley being nearly 100 degrees and snow persisting up here.

We stayed at the first campsite we encountered, "Jumbo", which was a good thing because all the others were still snowed in.  The site was at about 9500 feet so it was chilly at night.  When we got rolling again the next morning, we headed south through Cedar Edge, CO and got this view of the Delta Valley below.  The still snowy San Juan range is visible on the horizon.  The haze in the air made photos problematic.

Our path took us south out of Montrose through the Uncompagrahe Mountains.  Many of the peaks in the area were still snow covered.

There was some great scenery on our path.

The forest road finally descended off the mesa to the San Miguel River.  The river was running strong.  Our path was via the dirt road visible at the left of the photo above.

We traveled on the blacktop for a mile or two and then headed south through the mountains on the dirt toward Dolores, CO.  Along the way, we scared up this doe grazing on the shoulder of the road.  Note that she has her ears fully turned rearward to listen to our advance to see if evasive action is needed to avoid being eaten.

The trail traveled to the west of Lone Cone, a volcanic peak that dominates the local terrain.  The flanks of Lone Cone are heavily wooded and home to many kinds of game.

Many miles to the south we got another view of Lone Cone, but this time from the south side.

Much of the terrain in the area is dominated by volcanic rock.

Moab is always fun and it was great to be able to visit the town again under more relaxed circumstances.  It is tragic that my laptop hard drive died, but it WAS 4 years old.  The replacement is twice as powerful and many times faster.

Grand Junction is a working-class city but has all the amenities.  Grand Mesa to the east is spectacular and is worth a visit if you are in the area.  the Uncompaghre Mountians are criss-crossed with dirt access roads and is worth a visit as well.

Tomorrow, we explore Mesa Verde and the Anasazi ruins and then head into Durango to visit our good friends Brad and Laura.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2014, all rights reserved.
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