Friday, September 30, 2016

Durango To Moab

September 27, Durango to Moab - more photos to be added later

We broke down camp, packed up, and headed west.  Our plan was to get as close to Moab as we could but we both had places we wanted to visit along the way.  Ben was into visiting some Indian Sites and Jane wanted to go to the Needles area of Canyonlands National Park. 

We were planning to pass by Mesa Verde National Park but as we approached we noticed a brand new visitor center very near the highway so we stopped in for a short visit – looked at some displays and got a passport stamp.  We have been here twice before and it is always crowded so we moved on. 

  In Cortez we headed north on 491 watching for road CC which led to Lowery Pueblo – the only pueblo that is accessible by car in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.  This area of Colorado has a lot of agriculture – corn, alfalfa, and pinto beans.  The ancients (early Indians) settled here to grow corn and beans – and they are still grown here!  At a settlement of Pleasant View we headed west about 9 miles on a dirt road (CC) to find Lowery Pueblo.  It was a stabilized Pueblo which has supported many families and a large kiva with typical north south orientation. The Pueblo had a number of rooms, a Chaco style “T” door,   Jane even hiked a short way to view the Pueblo but opted out on the longer walk to the kiva.  The weather is turning quite warm – long sleeve shirts were shed and sitting in the sun felt great!

Door entry to pueblo

Inside the pueblo

Large Kiva

Back on the road we continued through small towns crossing into Utah. In Monticello we stopped at a Blue Food Market to pick up a few things and a sub sandwich for lunch.  We ate in the parking lot near a family from Poland who were also stopped there in a rental RV camper.  There are many European families in rental units in the campgrounds in Utah.  The young men running the grocery were very clean cut and polite – we wondered if they were Mormons. 
Continuing north towards Moab, Jane convinced Ben to drive the 30-40 miles back a side road to the Needles section of Canyonlands National Park. 
Church Rock - turn here to go to Canyonlands
Reading indicated some of the most interesting red rock formations in Canyonlands were here.  We had taken this road a number of years ago as far as Newspaper Rock on a trip where we viewed many, many petroglyphs.  This is an outstanding one very accessible by car.   Ben was not too sure but said OK – off we went for one of the most fantastic 80 miles of any of our western trips.  First 15 miles to Newspaper Rock are nice vista of canyons in the distance.  Then you pass Newspaper Rock area along a small river and enter endless canyons with several hundred foot high red rock walls.  It was beyond anything we have seen and our photos will not do it justice.  There were canyons off the main canyon and it just seemed to go on forever.  Then finally you enter the National Park where there are many formations – toadstools or mushroom rocks, numerous oddly shaped rocks, and what they call the “needles”- narrowly spaced eroded columns of stone.  Sorry to say the lighting was less than perfect for us to get good photos but we did try!  We had considered camping out here one night but chose not to stay with no electricity for a couple reasons.  There is a small national park campground and several national forest campgrounds.  This is a very popular hiking destination with hundreds of trails to explore.  Not for old folks like us – wish we had come here 20 years ago!  Ben agreed he was very glad we had come and even said he thought the formations were the best we had ever seen.  His comment – This will be Monument Valley way in the future!

We drove the road back through the fantastic canyons and stopped to take photos at Newspaper Rock = perfect lighting late in the afternoon!

Ben at Newspaper Rock 

Then back at Church Rock we turned north towards Moab stopping to photograph Wilson Arch.
Wilson Arch

In Moab around 6 PM we got one of the last spots in a packed RV park.  Jane’s research ahead of time paid off – a campground with trees – not the normal thing as we looked at several other campgrounds on the way into Moab.  Tired but satisfied after a memorable day we had dinner, watched NCIS, Bull and went to sleep!   

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