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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Utah 2010

Jon and I just got back from over a week spent out west in Utah. We had an amazing time and saw tons of cool things. We went with my Aunt Julie, Uncle Kermit, their two kids, and our friend Sam.

To see all the photos from the trip, see the Facebook album.

The first leg of our trip was spent camping at Arches National Park near Moab, UT.

Arches is very dry, and very hot! Coming from central Illinois with humidity hovering around 80% on an average day, the total lack of humidity of the desert was great! It was much easier to cope with 95 – 100 degree temperatures that way. It actually got pretty chilly at night (upper 50s), so once the sun went down, things felt great. We camped at Devil's Garden camp ground – there were flush and pit toilets, but no showers. The campground was surrounded by beautiful red rocks, but no real trees to speak of. The campsite is also at around 5,600 feet elevation, which is about 80% of the usual amount of oxygen. When we first arrived we started setting up camp in the mid-day heat and the low oxygen, I got really dizzy and didn't feel well. I sat down to rest, and promptly passed out and fell to the ground! Luckily the ground was soft sand, and I came-to right away! I drank water and rested a little while, and felt much better afterwards! Such excitement to start off the trip!

Our first day was spent exploring Arches National Park. We went to the visitor center, hiked a few trails, stopped at tons of viewpoints, and saw many of arches, of course!

Our second day was spent on a rafting trip down the Colorado River with Red River Adventures.

Our guide was great, and we had a blast. Although it was a mostly-mild stretch of river, we hit some rapids and everyone but the kids and one adult fell out of the boat! We lost Jon's shoes, two water bottles, and we almost lost Sam's swim trunks (which were saved in the nick of time!). They had folks out there taking pictures of us and we definitely had to buy them! Despite the overboard adventure, we all enjoyed the river and would do it again in a heart beat!

Day three was spent visiting Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park. Both places were amazing and full of more beautiful scenery.

Canyonlands National Park

Dead Horse Point State Park

Day four was spent traveling to the next site: Monument Valley. We stopped at Natural Bridges National Monument to check out some cool bridges along the way. The difference between an arch and a bridge, by the way, is that arches are formed by wind and rain, and bridges are formed by the meandering of a river. After Natural Bridges we made it to Monument Valley, which is on the border of Utah and Arizona on Navajo land, for a sunset jeep tour. The open-top jeep tour was great and an amazing way to explore the valley. We stayed the night at the brand new hotel right on the edge of Monument Valley called The View.

Natural Bridges

Monument Valley

On day five we left Monument Valley to head to Page, Arizona for a tour of Antelope Canyon. This was one of the most amazing parts of the trip. Another open-top jeep took us to the canyon for a beautiful hike through.

After the tour, we continued on to Kodachrome Basin State Park. This is where things got crazy. We followed the GPS to the park, and it took us through a few country roads. We went on a gravel road for a few miles, but we were only 20 more miles or so until we reached the park, so we continued on. The road quickly degraded to a rocky, windy, steep, washboard dirt road. Our little low lying Honda Fit should not have been driving on this rural backcountry road of Utah. Somehow, after only bottoming out once, we made it back to the highway and drove the remaining few miles to the campsite. We were too frightened to take any pictures or really appreciate any of the scenery! We later found out we were driving through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument on Skutumpah Road. We literally forded at least two small creeks on the drive... enough said. My advice to you is BE YE NOT SO STUPID. NEVER GO ON SKUTUMPAH ROAD. Our campsite at Kodachrome was completely adorable with our own little bridge! Great place to camp, except the one month out of the year when the gnats are around... which was when we were there!

Our sixth day was spent exploring Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce was the park that inspired the entire trip, so needless to say, it is a strikingly beautiful place. Truly awe-inspiring.

The next morning we packed up everything and headed on home. The drive out and back was 24 hours each way, so it was two days of driving out, and another two days of driving until we made it home. After our long car rides, we were all grateful to be home!