Crowds? What crowds??

This was 4th of July weekend and from my base in Grand Junction I was planning to visit both Arches National Park, which I have been to at least twice, and parts of nearby Canyonlands National Park which I had not seen previously.

I was a little apprehensive about going to such a popular Park (Arches) on a holiday weekend and my fears were compounded when I saw a story on CNN Friday which said it was so crowded that Park rangers were literally turning people away, asking them to come back in 3 to 5 hours! For that reason I got an early start and arrived at the Park entrance at 830am – with only 8 vehicles ahead of me in line.

My main goal for this visit was to get closer to Delicate Arch than I had in my previous visits (when I had only taken photos from a distant parking lot). Well, there were quite a few people there when I actually got inside the Park but it is a big place and they were pretty much spread out. I was stunned, however, when I was ready to leave the Park at 11 am and there were NO cars in the parking lot for the first, and generally very popular, overlook visitors get to as they arrive. I will post my photos from this trip shortly but this is a shot of my car in that parking lot at 11AM on Saturday, July 3rd!!

This lot had been at least half full when I arrived and I was amazed there was no one there as I was leaving. I think one reason was the CNN report the previous day which may have scared lots of people away. Another possible reason was that it was already quite warm by 11am and the temperature would reach 106 by mid-afternoon. Welcome to southern Utah in July!

Grand Junction CO to Moab UT

Saturday I got an early start as I had a busy day planned. My first stop was Arches National Park to try and wrap up a loose end from a previous visit. There are two ways to get there from Grand Junction – either the interstate west to Highway 191 which is fast but requires that you overshoot the Park and backtrack (and is a rather boring drive) OR take the interstate west to Highway 128 and take it to Moab. It is slower but is more direct and MUCH more scenic.

I have posted photos from this road before but I believe they were taken late in the day, after I had been to Arches. These were taken early in the morning and as you will see, it was a gorgeous, clear day and it got me off to a great start.