Utah Road Trip Diaries: Camping, Kayaking, and A Lot of Great Stuff in Moab

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After leaving Capitol Reef National Park, we stopped by a local restaurant at the intersection of two main highways that claimed to have some of the “best food” around. It was aiite (I guess their great personalities and effort make up for it). Outside on the patio, we ate our sandwiches and talked to two guys that were on a similar national parks road trip for the past few months. We were incredibly envious. They made it to the Grand Canyon too (my dad kept texting me fire updates and weather reports about Arizona, saying it was like 124 and 126 degrees out there, so we avoided that whole state in general). AND they actually saw bighorn sheep! One of the guys was like, “Yeah, he was a daddy sheep, looking at us all mean-like because he had a baby sheep behind him”. Sounded more like a protective bighorn mama sheep.

As we drove on we continued to see more signs saying “America’s Scenic Highways”. And goddamn, it was truethe land looked fucking AMAZING. Tall, brick-red and dark-colored rock formations surrounded the land around the road. It was almost unreal.

IMG_1581-155The only problem was that we had been going in the wrong direction for quite some time now (and we were almost out of gas, with no stations around for miles). We actually drove to the border of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (also near Natural Bridges) instead of going north towards Moab. We were so SAD to have to turn around (I’ve seen tons of photos of Glen Canyon in Backpacker magazine, and I have to say that it’s definitely a top priority on my next road trip. It looks stunning out there!)

It was so pretty, however, that we just had to get out of the car and take a shitload of photos…

 

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Amphitheater-like dome

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Dark stripes of water stains on red and tan rock

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Looking out towards Glen Canyon

Luckily the Highlander just barely made it to the next gas station about 26 miles out. We headed northeast this time, on our way to Moab.

IMG_1617It was evening when we arrived in the city. So gorgeous.

IMG_1623Instead of staying in town, however, we stayed true to our camping roots and found an awesome little BLM campsite on the edge of town. It ran alongside the Colorado river right next to the highway, but it looked really nice. We soon found out however that all the campsites had been taken up for the night. One campsite that was vacant, however, were the incredibly humongous group campsites at the end of the grounds. We asked the camp host if we could just pay and stay there for a night, and were elated when he said that we could. IT WAS HUGE.

Hot, sweaty, and lacking shower facilities for the past few days, I went over to one of the eight picnic tables on our campsite and began to take a shower. I didn’t care that it was a dry campground (no running water) and that I had to use our own water reserves; I was disgusting and something had to be done about it. However, I have to say that there’s nothing more peaceful or liberating than taking a butt-nekkid makeshift sponge-bath/shower on a pitch black night during the middle of a Utah summer. It was like 75 degrees at the time. So relaxing.

We soon found out however, that boats would go up and down the Colorado river at night. A large truck would drive slowly back and forth down the highway, shining its bright stadium lights on the tall rock mountains bordering the river. It was pretty bizarre (The next day we found out that a  certain Colorado tour company conducts nighttime river tours. I think it actually has a religious theme to it. Oh, Utah…).
IMG_1633When we woke up in the morning and looked around…OH MAN. We couldn’t have picked a more amazingly gorgeous campground to stay at.

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Those same tall rock walls in the morning

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My little REI Campdome tent against a stunning backdrop

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Good morning, Colorado river (just yards from our tents)

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Our tents, with the site’s group picnic area in the background (where I took my shower)

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Dawn hitting a small part of our enormous campsite

I took a ton of photos of the sunrise. Especially the sunrise through Joy’s tent as she slept…

IMG_1701-164 IMG_1703-165When we finally got up, ate, and left the best campsite ever (*sob*), we made our way over to Moab to check out the city. To be precise, we went on a shopping spree. I had to get a card reader to download my photos to my laptop. We had to get food supplies.We took a loooong $5 shower at a nearby hostel in town. And, we went to GearHeads, possibly the best local outdoor sporting gear store ever established. If you’re ever in Moab, go check it out – just make sure you know how much money you have left in your bank account. We went back THREE times to buy more and more stuff. It has a huge section of camping dinnerware, including wine “glasses” and an assortment of cast iron pans and ovens!! I was in HEAVEN. I filled up our water jugs (FOR FREE!), bought some vitamin tablets, a new water bladder, some rope on sale, a mosquito head-net, a foldable backpacking trowel, a mini quick-dry towel, and a lot of other stuff. Joy bought some new hiking shoes because she had actually left hers back at home! (OH YEAH, I forgot about that…)

The guys at the shop are pretty awesome folks too. Go visit them!

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Gearheads. The best camping and sports supply store ever.

Another dope spot was Wake & Bake Cafe. Excellent cobb salads! We were in Moab for two days and kept going back for these amazing salads each day. And they have ice cream. And they have good coffee. And they have couches and tables. I wish they had one of these back at home…I’d be here every day to study or read, and consume things.

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Best cobb salads ever. And warm bread rolls.

Joy really wanted to get into some water (she’s a water sign after all) so after a week of hiking around nothing but hot rock terrain, we decided to do a leisurely kayaking trip down the Colorado river with a local tour company. It was a bit pricey, but it was really nice kayaking down the river in some of the most amazing rock formations. By the way, if you want to swim in the Colorado river, there are some places where the river is fairly calm and very swimmable. Just be careful about the sand. When Joy and I were carrying our kayak down to the river, we couldn’t bear the extreme heat – we dropped our kayak and ran to the water to cool off our burning feet.

P1110176-1004 P1110185-1005 P1110191-1008 P1110201-1009 P1110211-1012 P1110228-1014Joy learned how to steer while we wandered down the river….paddling side to side around the river, paddling down backwards, hitting small rapids, jumping into the water for a refreshing swim. Oh yeah. And the guide would from time to time stop and talk to us about the natural and local history of the area. Rainbow pony really enjoyed it too. It was a good day.

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Moab is supposed to be the extreme sport capital of Utah – you can do kayaking, white water rafting, mountain biking, climbing, camping, backpacking, ATV’ing, bungee jumping, WHATEVER in the area.

I have to say that I love Moab. I’ll have to come back and visit again sometime soon.

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