Saturday, September 29, 2012

American Southwest Trip: Day 6 The Needle in the Canyonlands National Park

     Our trip for the day was straight to the southeast part of Canyonlands National Park which is called Needles. It was less popular than the norther part (the Island in the Sky) of Canyonlands according to my husband research. It was an unknown new park to me. 
Park Introduction:
"The Needles District forms the southeast corner of Canyonlands and was named for the colorful spires of Cedar Mesa Sandstone that dominate the area. The district's extensive trail system provides many opportunities for long day hikes and overnight trips. Foot trails and four-wheel-drive roads lead to such features as Tower Ruin, Confluence Overlook, Elephant Hill, the Joint Trail, and Chesler Park. "
"On US Highway 191, drive 40 miles (60 km) south of Moab or 14 miles (22 km) north of Monticello, then take Utah Highway 211 roughly 35 miles (56 km) west. Highway 211 ends in the Needles, and is the only paved road leading in and out of the district." 
Just before we entered to UT-211 Scenic drive , we saw this interesting rock which sits next to the roadside and is called Church Rock. I was attracted by its form and also a hole which looked like a door to me on the bottom of the rock. I wondered if the owner lived in side there? 
Turning to UT-211 Scenic  from Highway 191 
The geological forms changed dramatically after we were getting closer Massive rocky mountains stood on both sides of the valley with green little yellowish foliage along the river.   
Our first stop was at Newspaper Rock. When we first saw the road sign directtion, we had no idea what was the meaning of Newspaper Rock? A rock looked likea  newspaper?
This was the Newspaper Rock.  
The different formations of the rock were breathtaking. It seemed to be endless. What I could do to remember the amazing scenery was to keep taking photos.   
This was a site for people who liked to climb the rocks. We saw some rock climbing enthusiastic people there and they were ggetting ready for climbing the rocks in the early morning. 
Are you looking at me? I took more than 900 photos in this park. I thought this photo was very funny to me. It looked like an alien popping up in front my camera. 
These two rocks dominated the horizon as we were driving into the park. 
We had driven for a while and just arrived at the welcome sign of the park. So in this case, the scenic view that we saw was just the appetite to this national park?  
We drove all the way to the end of the road and started from the Big Spring Canyon Overlook to explore the park.
The trail was close to the road and I was thinking it was an easy walking trail. 
The view of Big Spring Canyon
One of the good things in the park was that I could climb up some rocks within my ability. The exploration satisfied my curiosity. I climbed up half way on a rock alcove and found this bench there. I thought it was a good place to see the sunset or sunrise. Ha ha, I didn't know my orientation at that moment. 
This was another rock with a small alcove on the bottom of the rock. I could just stand on the edge, sit on the edge, and then climb inside the cave. It would be great for a raining day or a bright sunny day. 
The view from inside the alcove
During the 6th day of our trip, I saw many geckos, lizards, and chameleons? I am confused as to what are the differences between these three terminologies. But for sure, they are the symbol to represent the American Southwest or the Indian Nations. I have seen many artworks or souvenirs made from these animals.  The far view was the Needles in this picture.
This was taken on the trail of the Pothole Point

"Pothole Point: .6 mi/1 km, 45 minutes Uneven surface. Leads to pothole communities, views of the Needles."
These two natural formatted rocks had a entertaining effects. I was like a wild kid wondering around this area and my husband was patiently waiting for me to finish my sidetrack. 
The temperature was not like Las Vegas but still up to 100 F. But walking on the top of the rock, I still could feel the bright sun-ray. I forgot to wear my long sleeve shirt. Anyway, the trail was on the top of the gigantic rock. It was not easy to follow the trail. The only way to follow the trail end was to follow the stacked rocks. It was a clever idea. But if the manmade stacked rocks fell and were scattered, visitors probably couldn't find the trail and would be wondering around this area. 
The scarce and precious water provides life support for the wild animals in the desert. We saw tadpoles in the water. How long would the water remain there? Would the tadpoles have enough time to transform to frogs before the water was gone and the poo dry? An amazing natural creation!
There were many places that couldn't be accesed by 2 wheel drive vehicles and also some roads were not paved. We turned into this unpaved road which would lead us to the beginning of the Elephant Trail. This was on the top of the hill which offered a good view to see the Needles. 
For the past 13 years, my husband always asked me to be aware of my surrounding. I encountered an odd thing. As I walked toward to a overlook place alone, a man walked passed me toward back to his car. At some point, I heard some sounds. But when I turned around to check the sound, I didn't see anything. I thought the sound was from some animals. A few minutes later, I heard the sound again and I turned around and checked, he was approaching and was almost next to me. I felt wired, He told me, "he saw a patch of clouds formed, and he wanted to take some shots." After I returning to our car, my husband who was waiting for me in the car told me that "he was ready to take any actions to protect me." Suddenly, I felt horrible. I asked my husband who was far away from me, how could he protect me if any horrible thing happened?  
I understood that it was tough for my husband to drive and watch the road conditions all the time. Once in a while, he had to stop for me for taking photos. Also, the hiking activities sometimes wore him out. So he didn't take all the hike with me. But after the wired situation happened to me, he started hiking with me to protect me. This was the trail to the Elephant Hill. We just took a short walk to see the trail condition.
This is the most challenge 4WD Road in the States. My husband was highly interested to explore this trail. That was one his many adventures he enjoyes. 
This road was unbelievable bad and I had a difficulty in walking up the hill. The surface of the road  was uneven and also there were big differences between the highest and lowest points. The clearance of the chassis must be very good in order to take this challenge.    
We walked up to the highest point of the road and overlooked the valley. 
We left the unpaved road and drove to the campground area to check it out. There was a tent under the rock. It was nice to camp there and temporarily claim this  property as your own for a few days.. 
We headed to Squaw Flat Trailhead for exploration. I went alone again. There was a big tour bus which took a group hikers from San Francisco parking at the parking lot. My husband thought it was safe for me to go alone. This picture was taken from the trailhead. 
Again I was wondering among the rocks for taking pictures. 
A stair led me to the top of the rocks. 
I would never have guested benches would be placed on the top of the rocks. A sign showed a campfire and talk would be held here at 7 pm. What a romantic night under a beautiful sky.  
Wooden Shoe Arch Overlook which was located on the road side. It didn't required any hike to take the picture. However, I had to switch my lens in order to take a close up shot.  
We took another unpaved trail to the Cave Spring. We spotted the guy which I came across at the Needles overlook at the Cave Spring. My husband decided to walk with me.  

"Cave Spring .6 mi/1 km, 45 minutes Two ladders. Leads to historic cowboy camp and prehistoric pictographs." The trail after the two ladders was marked by the cairns.

Comparing to Balcony House in the Mesa Verde National Park, it was an easy and short climbing with some fun. 
It was hot in the early afternoon walking on the top of the trail.  
Walking under the rocky umbrella was nice.   
Our last stop was to visit the visitor center. We asked some questions about our next day trip. The ranger told us that " the arch national park is small but it offers a lot of things to do. The Island in the Sky in the Canyonlands doesn't offer as much as the Arch." It was sad to hear about that because my husband only arranged half day to visit Arch. Visiting the Arch was my one of my major  destinations.   
We drove back to Monticello, UT for a night. The hotel price was much cheaper than Moab. 
We asked the hotel clerk about a good local restaurant. She recommended this restaurant.    
Menu: - my husband ordered Grilled Chicken Breast and I had baby back ribs. 
This was our chef 
A small and descent variety at the salad bar which was all homemade. It was tasty.  The lettuce was crispy and sweet which was tasted just like high mountain vegetables in Taiwan.   
The was the first time we had honey butter. It was rich as the taste of honey which made me put more butter on my bread. 
We were asked to take our plates to get the Ranch Bean, Country Potato, and our main dish. It was quite interesting to be served this way.The food was delicious and we were fulled.
After the dinner, it was too early to go back to the hotel. We decided to take a drive around the small town. We saw many deer in the park. So we parked our car on the opposite side of the street to take photos. A police officer drove by and told my husband that "there are more deer at another location." My husband apologized for parking on the wrong side of the street. The nice officer said "don't worry about that. It is a small town and people don't  mind that. Just enjoy your visit in Monticello."
This was the only buck we had spotted.   


  1. Thanks a lot for this wonderful share, Keep posting the updates.

  2. Hi Twan & Gene -- Enjoy all the pictures. Missing you both and hope all is well.


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