Moab to Capitol Reef to Escalante

Yesterday's drive from Moab to Escalante, Utah, took in some breathtaking and diverse scenery. We started out turning west onto Interstate 70 where the landscape was pretty flat. The Henry Mountains ahead held the promise more interesting scenery.

We traveled through miles of flat white sandstone and sagebrush until we started seeing more of the characteristic mesas.

We drove straight through Capitol Reef National Park, stopping at the visitor's center only briefly to see if we could replace Mike's hat. (It was originally purchased at a park visitor center, but we have yet to find one. Mike looked online and found out that he could order one, but he might also be able to find one at the visitor's center at Grand Canyon. We are planning to visit the north rim if we have time.)

Capitol Reef NP is so named for its reef-like cliffs capped by white Navajo sandstone formations that have eroded and now resemble the dome of the U.S. Capitol. We didn't see a good example of that as we drove through. Below is an image from our visit in 2006 that will give you a better idea what I'm talking about.

Mainly what we saw along the park road were these huge red monoliths. Pay attention because you are going to see these again in a bit.

The park is large, but the road through is short, and we began our ascent of the Henry Mountains, which led to completely different terrain of scrub pine, and at the higher elevations, aspen forests. Look at this image below, and you can see the red monolith almost dead center, just above the trees.

When we came down the other side of the mountain, we entered Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It encompasses 1.9 million acres in southern Utah between Bryce Canyon National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The national monument was established in 1996 and it is named for the series of multi-colored cliffs and mesas extending from Bryce Canyon to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The Escalante and Paria rivers and their tributaries, which run through the area, have created two major canyon systems as well as natural bridges and arches. The majority of the monument land remains rugged, remote and undeveloped. This next image marks the beginning of what we saw.

At 1.9 million acres, the area is so vast as to be impossible to capture in a single image. I'm trying again with the panorama. Remember that you can click on the image to make it larger.

In this next image, I'm hoping you can see the red monolith again. It is just in the middle and a little below the skyline.

We've started out a little lazy this morning, but we have plans to visit the Devil's Garden area. I first read about Devil's Garden in Outdoor Photographer magazine. It is just to the east of where we are staying. We will travel a dirt road, Hole-in-the-Rock Road, which heads toward Lake Powell. Devil's Garden is supposed to feature an "area of incredibly colorful petrified sand dunes, sensuous arches, whimsical hoodoos, and weirdly shaped monoliths. We shall see. 

We may also hike out to a slot canyon...and you know how much I want to see a slot canyon...but that will depend on the length and difficulty of the hike. I have finished my anti-inflammatory medication now, and I'm not noticing my knee being any worse...yet. I'm being careful to avoid pushing myself over the edge. We still have hiking ahead, and I would hate to spoil the rest of the trip for myself by being foolish now.

So onward. More later.

10 comments from clever and witty friends:

LynCC said...

Enjoying your photos every day :) Isn't that panorama feature neat?

Diane Wild said...

Your words "pushing myself over the edge" should not be said as you stand close to the edge of a rim. I know, you were speaking of your knee..just sayin. Great travelogue, as usual. So enjoying your trip.

WoolenSails said...

Now those are views, love being on top of a mountain and looking around.


Kirsty said...

I love the spectacular education you are giving Smitty and Gracie about rocks. These posts are superb. I am so jealous! What an incredible country. I just might have to visit myself one day. Thank you for sharing. Happy travels.

Needled Mom said...

The photos are gorgeous. The day looks perfect too. I am enjoying your trip.

Brown Family said...

I am learning so much and seeing how much we missed!

quiltzyx said...

Your photos almost look 3D on my HD monitor when I click for the expanded view - incredible!

I'm glad you're being mindful of your knee. You do have Ibuprofen on hand, just in case, right? Right! Carry on!

Dana Gaffney said...

I'm completely in awe of this beautiful scenery, I have to go through and just look at the pictures then go back and read.

Lyndsey said...

I'm having trouble with the size of it all. How many times does the UK fit into the US?

Kate said...

It's amazing how diverse the landscape is. Thanks for sharing your trip. I had no idea many of these places existed.