Friday. May 18. 2018.
Indian Creek Recreational Area. (ironic)
Capitol Reef still had a 30% chance of thunderstorms this AM, which although a small chance, is not something I wanted to risk. All the hikes I would have wanted to backpack, come with high flash flood potential.
So I headed out. I basically drove all day long. The needles district of Canyonlands is a long drive from Capitol Reef to begin with, but I also made some detours. I stopped by the Natural Bridges National Monument, which is no Devil’s Tower as far as national monuments go. There were three, which were pretty, but all the parks in Utah have bridges or arches (the only difference being if they are over water or not.) So I was not incredibly impressed. I did not do any hiking, only viewpoints, so who knows; maybe the trails are magnificent?
After that I drove to Monument Valley. On the way, I drove the Moki Dugway, which is a very scenic dirt road that is about 3 miles long and nothing but narrow switchbacks on the face of a cliff. All in all, it’s very similar to some of the scenic byways I drove in South Dakota last fall. Regardless, I was thankful I only passed on car of my way down, because I am just getting used to the size of my Jeep (not enough to feel comfortable in Zion’s East entrance tunnel mind you.) To actually enter Monument Valley, was $20 because the $80 parks pass doesn’t count (it is ran by the Navajo Tribe, not the US government) so I opted to turn around and just appreciate the drive to that point. It was very beautiful, you could see for miles. Definitely worth the side trip, and I even crossed Arizona’s border!
Then I headed to the Needles distract. I cancelled all 3 nights worth of my backcountry permits because they are still two days away, and I am instead planning some day hikes for tomorrow.
I am camped at Indian Creek Recreation Area, which appears ‘dispersed camping.’ There’s fire pits, no services, and no signs. The other three camp areas near here are all designated and charge $5-10, so here is hoping this is okay for the night. I should point out, it is an ironic name because that was my school district growing up.
It is hot and stuffy in my car at 6:15pm, but it is the first time I have encountered mosquitoes this trip, so I will wait until nightfall to attempt to open my windows. Canyonlands is definitely the most desert looking park I have encountered so far in Utah. It seems so expansive and arid, I am surprised I was swarmed by bugs while cooking my ramen.