We had been planning on camping in or near Moab since mid-March. Finally, in early June, we did it! We had lots planned, and it all ended up being even better than we expected. We hiked about 15 miles in three days. Jarom did all of it--he's the best little hiker. Bella did pretty well too, although I had her on my shoulders a lot of the time. During this trip we saw eight different Anasazi ruins sites! Some were easy to find, others were remote and required a lot of work.
We camped two nights at Negro Bill Campground, right next to the muddy Colorado River along Highway 128 near Moab. We got there at 11:00 on a Thursday night, to ensure we had a site. The funny thing was that four other groups showed up after us, up till almost 1:00. The nearby canyons were beautiful, but the brush had just been cleancut so there were lots of burnt little stumps that plagued the newly-walking Orion. Plus we invaded red ant territory (though they left us alone). First we went to Moab to throw a certain someone's sleeping bag in the laundramat. Then we went up to Dead Horse Point and Canyonlands Island in the Sky district. That day a sandstorm swept through our campsite, knocking down our tent and filtering tons of find red dust inside. Second time we've camped in Moab, second time we've been attacked by wind (last time threw our tent twenty feet). So we decided that in the morning we'd pack up and get a cheap motel room for our third night. We went to Arches and barely made it to Newspaper Rock and Canyonlands The Needles district (one of our very favorite places), then ended up in Monticello late at night, searching for a cheap room. There were few options, so we decided on the Monticello Inn. For dinner we made baked potatoes in the microwave and melted cheese on them.
The next day we drove south to Blanding, had breakfast at the Peace Tree Juice Cafe, and then continued west on Highway 95, part of the Trail of the Ancients scenic byway. This is where we really immersed ourselves in Anasazi history. Edge of the Cedars, Butler Wash, and the very amazing Ballroom Cave which was difficult, remote and absolutely worth it. We finished the evening going to Natural Bridges National Monument and then *backtracking* to see Mule Canyon and hike to the House on Fire. Finally at late dusk we headed west again on 95, over the northern portion of Lake Powell (Glen Canyon) and the Dirty Devil river. It was black out so we missed a lot of very beautiful scenery. We'd already seen so much, but I really can never get enough of the southwest. Highway 95's really long and empty--and we kept waiting for good spot to get dinner. When we finally hit Hanksville (population 300) we knew it was our last chance, so we ate a pretty nasty meal of gas station food then continued north till we got back to good old Provo. It was one of my favorite weekends in a long time.
Forgive the amount of pictures below. I haven't uploaded them to Flickr yet, but when I do, I'll post about it.
our campsite at Negro Bill campground
right next to the beautiful Colorado River
at Dead Horse Point . . .
which looks a lot like this
Jarom and his Junior Ranger backpack we borrowed from the Canyonlands visitors center. The kids loved the books inside.
at Mesa Arch
on top of Whale Rock
it was extremely windy up there
Canyonlands (Island in the Sky) is filled with amazing overlooks. This is from Grandview Point. We really were on an island in the sky, literally.
Hiking Aztec Butte. There was a lot of kid rotation going on between hikes.
The cryptobiotic soil that every park in Utah will tell you to watch out for. It's alive, and this was the thickest we saw it. Don't bust the crust!
back at camp--dinnertime!
Balanced Rock at Arches
hiking to see the Windows
Amy and the kids behind Turret Arch
Jarom and one of his many "take a picture!" poses. I couldn't include them all.
that's Turret Arch
The "goggles"--both Windows--from the backside. We hiked the primitive trail behind them. We all got sunburnt.
Jarom's favorite thing to do was stack or restack the rock cairns (that mark the trails). This helped him become a Junior Ranger.
Quite pretty huh? La Sal Mountains in the background.
the hike to Landscape Arch
That's Landscape Arch behind us. One day soon (relatively) it will collapse.
Newspaper Rock! An amazing place on the way to see The Needles.
our favorite Polaroid ever
Oey was so anxious to get down and walk on his own. This is on the way to Roadside Ruin in The Needles district.
Cave Spring. An old cowboy spot, filled with artifacts.
Amy scaling. This hike was definitely one of our favorites, which had something to do with the time of day. You'll see in pictures below how pretty it was.
Anasazi grindstones inside Cave Spring
they very much loved the potholes, we could hardly tear them away from them
one of our famous "timer" photos
Bella dancing on top of the butte above Cave Spring. I love this video. Watch how she keeps coming back into the frame.
At Monticello. Who knew they had a temple in such a tiny town? It was a pleasant surprise.
breakfast, Peace Tree Juice Cafe (delicious, seriously--Amy's already made this for me again and I love it)
Jarom and an anatomically-correct Kokopelli statue outside Edge of the Cedars
Oey wants in the kiva . . .
cause these two are in the kiva
The ruins at Edge of the Cedars are restabilized. They had to be excavated from a mound. First-class archaeology.
Oey makin his rounds
hiking to see the Butler Wash ruins of Highway 95
Jarom and I found the natural bridge we were looking for . . .
And then *he* found handprint pictographs inside it! We were so proud of our budding archaeologist.
This trail was so fun, so remote and so rewarding: to see the lesser-known Ballroom Cave ruins in Cedar Mesa.
crossing the muddy creek, which we had to do several times
making our way through the thicket
The horsetail reeds were taller than Jarom much of the time. He's the best, most determined and least complaining little hiker.
holding a tadpole (he put it back)
the ruins! (see the wall?)
there were ancient corncobs all over the place--one of the most amazing things to me
up and up
grinding stones again
looking out from under the overhang
I found some potsherds
The walls may not look that spectacular, but it's because they haven't been touched by archaeologists. They've been up here for centuries, crumbling and shifting, and this is how they look.
where the ladders were secured against the rock (the wooden ladder legs were off to the side)
inside the cave itself
At Natural Bridges National Monument. Amy and I took turns running to see the Horsecollar Ruins. Oey sat here with Amy while it was my turn.
Jarom and I hiked down to Owachomo Bridge
can you see Jarom?
The Mule Canyon ruins, all nicely done up and right off the road. We meant to go to a different location, North Mule Canyon, where we'd hike to see the "house on fire," but first we ended up here instead (then we found the correct turnoff).
North Mule Canyon, our last hike of the trip
We finally made it! It was getting late, but here's the famous house on fire photo. It's not so dramatic--the effect really only works around noontime.
our family follows their families
A sight we were used to seeing--Amy blazing a trail ahead of us! She really is a trailblazer (though it was 8:30 and we wanted to make it back before dark so we could start driving).
Okay, nasty picture I know. But that Ballroom Cave trail got us some bugbites--me especially. I had 60ish total, and 45 below the knees. I woke up early a few nights because of the itch, and couldn't go back to sleep. It was worth it.