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Moab, Utah: Be Ready to Let Your Jaw Drop. The Place to See Red
by Roberta Sotonoff
From the air, the ground looks like a giant knife cut out chunks of rocks to form rivers and serrated edged canyons. Odd stone formations and arches are tinged in orangey red. How could such natural beauty have been created? The architects were the sand, water and wind.
Located in the southeast corner of Utah, Moab is small (9,000) but there is a ginormous amount of things to see and do at its nearby parks, Canyonlands, The Arches and Dead Horse Point State Park. Climb a 90° solid rock hill in a Hummer at Hell’s Revenge, get your tush wet when rafting the Colorado River, hike, or mountain bike. Non-adventurers: drive around and gape at the stunning formations or spot a big horn sheep.
The area is a popular choice for filmmakers. John Carter, 127 Hours, Star Trek, Stagecoach and City Slickers, to name a few, used it as a backdrop. John Wayne came here so often, the Apache Hotel’s Room 20 became his Moab home. And remember, the Mission: Impossible -Ghost Protocol scene when Tom Cruise was “T-boned” (tied to the side of a canyon wall) or when Thelma and Louise “drove over the Grand Canyon?” Those scenes were shot right up the road from the Dead Horse State Park Visitors Center. Check out the memorabilia at the Film Museum at Red Cliffs Ranch.
Just as moviemakers find the area fascinating, so do visitors. Canyonlands is large (527 square miles) with canyons so deep, two of its main attractions—Needles, with its the colorful spires, and Island in the Sky–have different park entrances. Island in the Sky’s Grand View pullout sits on atop a 1,000-ft high mesa. Below the panorama of red rock pinnacles and flatlands that are interrupted by jagged-edge canyons mesmerizes visitors.
“People like this more than the Grand Canyon, because it is small enough to get your head around it,” says Marian DeLay, Executive Director of the Moab Area Travel Council.
Probably, the easiest and most picturesque park hike is Mesa Arch (½ mile roundtrip). Sitting on the edge of a cliff, the low arch stretches about 50 feet. At sunrise, flashes of light appear, turning the arch a shimmering, golden red. Then it reveals an array of pinnacles, buttes and the morning sky.
Just as striking is Dead Horse Point State Park. The park got its name from the wild mustangs that roamed the mesa. Two-thousand feet below it, the Colorado River slithers like a giant snake around sculptured, lavender and pink bluffs.
Most people are familiar with the iconic Delicate Arch that graces Arches National Park. There are 2,000 arches here as well as formations that resemble windows, a parade of elephants and even people like the Three Gossips. Balanced Rock looks as if some giant lifted up a boulder and super-glued it atop a hoodoo (an odd shaped rock).
The hike to Delicate Arch is a must do, even for non-hikers. It is worth the grunt. Take water and a jacket before starting out on the three-mile roundtrip hike to the park’s superstar. Weather can quickly change from very hot to chilly and winds can get wicked. The trail starts at Wolfe Ranch, now just an old shack. Big sheep rock art decorates the walls just ahead. The hike continues over smooth rock as it ascents 480 feet. Huffing and puffing at the steeper climbs doesn’t subtract from beauty that surrounds it. The winds grow stronger and then, after rounding a corner, the 287-ft high Delicate Arch looms. Height, solitary stance and the way it frames the La Sal Mountains makes onlookers just stop in their tracks and silently stare in awe.
Plan about five days to explore the area. Each day in the Moab area becomes more jaw dropping.
For more information, contact: Moab Area Travel Council: tel: 800-635-6622; website: http://discovermoab.com
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|Print article||This entry was posted by Barbara Kingstone on August 13, 2012 at 10:57 am, and is filed under Destinations, North America. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|