Our journeys from Zion National Park have taken us north and then east. After only one day of travel, we arrived at our free dispersed camping area on Willow Springs Road north of Moab. We were amazed at how full it was. Since I drive the van, I went ahead of Jeremie and scouted out the area to find a suitable spot to pull the trailer into. Well, I drove down the sandy road for about 10 minutes to its very end. I was shocked. Every site was full. Some of the larger sites clearly had multiple trailers on them. As I drove back to Jeremie, I passed a family of 5 going for a bike ride. I was sure I had passed their Airstream travel trailer on a larger site. I suggested to Jeremie that we share the site with them. They had kids and it did not look like they had any noisy off-roading toys with them (I had already passed by a lot of dirt bikes). The site would be easy to back into and easy for us to leave from in a few days.
Just as we finished backing onto the site, the family returned and graciously said they did not mind if we shared the camping space. It turns out that this family is also fulltiming. They had sold their home on the West coast of the US and were planning to travel for the next six months to find a new place to call home. As a graphic designer and physician’s assistant, they could pretty much land anywhere and be fine I think. It was so nice to meet another family with young children and for the next three days, Rosie asked everyday if she could please go play with her friends next door. :-)
For our first day in the area, we decided to go to Arches National Park. But as we were driving in, we saw signs that indicated that Arches was undergoing construction and that the campground was closed. Uh oh! Was this going to be another Yosemite experience? Was the dispersed camping land full because all those people couldn’t get into Arches? We had left early and were at the park before the visitor centre opened at 9am. When the Ranger came out to open the doors for the visitors, he stressed that the campground was short-staffed and that there would be no guided tours or Ranger talks. We picked up the Junior Ranger workbooks, and were told we had to return before 3:30 if they were going to turn them for badges. The park was full, but didn’t feel too crowded as it is a bit like Joshua Tree National Park. You drive from one trailhead to another and they are quite a distance apart. Although we saw evidence of construction work at the entrance to the park, there were no traffic delays because of it.
Our plan for the day was to start at the far end of the park and work our way back towards the front. We planned to do this over the course of two days. I am not sure if we are just too spoiled now from all the amazing scenery we are seeing or what, but by the time we had done about 4 trails, the kids were done. We decided to head back to the Visitor Centre to fulfill Wesley and Rosie’s Junior Ranger badges and then head into Moab. :-)
As we drove into Moab, we kept seeing Jeep after Jeep. The off roading vehicles were everywhere. The streets were lined with them. Some were decked out with snorkels and winches and others were so old or so modified they had to be trailered. We were not sure what was going on, but the energy was exciting. This little town was overwhelmed with Jeeps and off roading vehicles. Every little restaurant and store had a parking lot full of jeeps. Then we saw it…the sign read, “Welcome to the 51st Annual Jeep Safari Week, 2017.” Well, that explained it! haha!
We found a lovely park next to the community centre/pool and all enjoyed relaxing in the shade while the little ones played and the big ones enjoyed the town’s free internet.
The next day we decided to visit another nearby National Park called Canyonlands National Park. My goodness! This place was as amazing as it is huge! We only visited one third of the park called “Island in the Sky.” The other two thirds, “The Maze” and “The Needles”, were far below us as we viewed them from on top of a Mesa. From our vantage point we looked down on the dirt off-roading trails below and wondered what it would be like to be down there. The drivers would be looking up at the immense wall of the mesa, but they would also be able to look down into the lower valley of either the Colorado or Green River. It was like we were seeing two canyons simultaneously. The immense space reminded us of the Grand Canyon. It was incredible. We were so happy we decided to go there.
Later when we returned to our campsite, we learned that our neighbours had been far below us, swimming in the Colorado River. They had blast on their paddle boards and playing on the beach. The area surrounding Moab is anadventurers dreamland. There is so much to see and we could have easily stayed there a lot longer but, it was time to move on to Colorado.