Monday, 5 December 2016

The Road Trip North - Day 4. Monticello to Grand Junction via Arches National Park

If I thought yesterday morning was cold, I was wrong; this morning was really cold. Luckily we were slightly more prepared this morning and didn’t need to make any supply stops so we transferred quickly from the warm motel room to the warm car. Just over an hour’s drive to get to Arches National Park, we were the first in the carpark at 8:30 waiting for the visitor centre to open. Luckily there are lots of information boards about the park outside, so we were able to do a bit of planning before speaking to the ranger and getting a map. I didn’t have any expectations about this park, and was honestly blown away by it. Huge sculpted rock created by ice, water and extreme temperatures over millions of years. It is hard not to feel insignificant when driving through this place, and hard to understand why man thinks that the earth belongs to him. Surely water is actually in charge.

There are many viewpoints and trails to follow; we particularly liked Balanced Rock, Landscape Arch and The Windows, although it was hard to look in any direction at any point and not be wowed by the view. There was some discussion in our car as to whether ‘Sheep Rock’ did in fact look like a sheep. I thought it obviously did but Michael thought it looked just like a rock.

Cheese bagels for lunch again in the car, this time watched by a beady-eyed raven who jumped up onto our bonnet to keep an eye on us. I wouldn’t let Michael share his lunch, as it is strictly against park rules to feed the wildlife. We did wonder whether he would peck the car away in revenge while we walked the trail, but it was still there on our return.

With a two hour drive to Grand Junction and our bed for the night we left the park just before 3pm and took the scenic route along the Colorado River. I remarked it felt like driving through the bottom of the Grand Canyon, with the imposing red rock faces on either side of us. This valley is not even half as deep as the Grand Canyon, although it is the same river that cut its path.

There were deer and chipmunks running across our path and a short trip down an unmaintained road and through and abandoned town before we joined the I-70 for the final stretch into Grand Junction for the night.