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 > April-Canyonlands NP Needles District near Moab (updated)

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btggraphix

Golden, CO

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Posted: 05/03/10 03:23pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Apologies if you open this and didn't realize how many pictures there will be....and perhaps also apologies that I'll follow the style of several updates instead of all at once. I just find that if I try to do it all at once, I delay doing it for too long. This way I can spread the time out a bit, and reply more to some of the specific pictures if there are questions.

Hope you enjoy this.

So a year has gone by since we last went to Moab and our friends who've been building the house hadn't been out in even longer, so we decided awhile back to make a trip this spring. Hoping to not need a tow this year on my way home! [emoticon] Our "normal" time to go out there is March, when the weather has generally not gotten too hot, and it's a little before the Easter Jeep gathering. There are still usually a lot of people out there though, and I think more as you get later into April. We also decided to try somewhere new for us to perhaps get away from some of the crowds closer to town.

The plan was to try camping down near the Needles district of Canyonlands, somewhere in the vicinity of where the Lockhart Basin Road comes out to the pavement. I have ridden that trail a number of times over the years, from way up north and had noted it might be fun to camp down there sometime. The drawback (perhaps) is that is over an hour south of town. On the good side, it's a lot closer to where DonCurley lives and we managed to become a good excuse for him to get his rigs out of winter mothballs and onto the trails. We were happy to have them join our group and they fit right in. We also managed to hook up with d3500ram in Silverthorne on our way up for dinner Tuesday evening, though we couldn't talk him into going with us. Next time Frank.....

So we left work on Tuesday and headed west to get an early start on the drive....and stopped in the evening at the Colorado River State Park (Fruita section) which is pretty nice. It's right near the interstate, but it's a nice little park. Better than sleeping at the rest area, and nice to walk around in the morning.

You can see up onto the Colorado National Monument plateau up there behind this shot......there is a big "monocline" as the beds from up on the plateau bend down towards the valley and then flatten back off across the basin.

[image]

I need to get up there one of these days - lot of ruins and such.

[image]

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After a nice morning walk, we head on to Moab. There are a few routes in, but when you are heading south from the interstate you know you are getting close when you start seeing the (buttes) Monitor and the Merrimac facing off in eternal battle. Sorry about the picture quality for the next few shots, the camera was set to high speed and low resolution.

[image]

By this time the wind had picked up a lot and both dust and rain were blowing around. The La Sal's were socked in:

[image]

We made out stop in town and customary visit to the visitor center and the "Back of Beyond" book store. I have a lot of maps of the area but managed to buy about $100 more of them (along with a few books as well.)

After hooking up with our Colorado friends, we headed on south as the storms seemed to be rolling in from the west:

[image]

There's an arch here, right off the road....do you see it? I'll have a better one from the way out later.

[image]

After meeting up with Don & wife at La Sal Junction, we headed on south towards the Needles District.

Finally getting past Newspaper Rock (a collection of petrolglyphs/pictographs...or is it grafitti?) you start coming out into the open again along Indian Creek, at a lower elevation and place in the stratigraphic section. I guess I'll make a note about geology here.....the geology in this area is just so cool in so many ways. Perhaps the biggest one is that because there is so little vegetation that the bedrock is so much more visible than other places. The dip of the layers are mostly shallow as well, so often you can easily do one of the very most basic geological observations....keeping track of where you are in the "section." Basically knowing which formation is which and what you are standing on. Anyway, we have dropped down from the upper plateau that is more or less Navajo sandstone, down to this valley which is floored by the Chinle and Organ Rock shales. Looking at the side of the plateau (Hart's Point) on the right side of next photo, the lower slope and valley floor is Chinle, the cliff is Wingate Sandstone, and the little bit of slope at the top is the softer Kayenta formation. In the far back right, you might see a little bit of the Navajo Sandstone.

[image]

Zoomed up a bit on North and South Sixshooter Peaks (again, lower part Chinle, upper cliff is Wingate.) The haze is a mixture of blowing dust and rain.

[image]

Heading off into our 'target area" for campsites. This was a Wednesday, so we were hopeful of finding a good site......there were actually quite a few people out here, especially by the weekend. I thought it was going to be a lot more empty. Oh well - can't have everything.

[image]

As we got out towards where the road becomes more of a 4WD road, Chris (owner of the longest rig - a 28' trailer) went with Don to scout for a site......he was a little worried about turning around etc. While we were waiting we were outside the truck. I mentioned to my wife that you could hear the rain getting closer, and a few moments later we realized it wasn't rain, it was pretty large hail! Run! Run for the truck!

[image]

We were loving having a little rain to keep the dust down, but of course flashfloods are a serious hazard too - and some roads out here become absolutely impassable when wet. Here a few waterfalls appeared instantly. I heard it before I could figure out where it was:
[image]

[image]

Nice! Just enough rain to keep the dust down. With a bit of sun peeking out, I was sure there'd be a rainbow somewhere, but none found.

The rigs all looking pretty good in the light though:

[image]

[image]

If there was ever a cool setup for offroad TC'ing, Don's is it...coming back from scouting things out:

[image]

We actually found one of the sites we remembered from our previous ride through, unoccupied. There was a offroad Eurocamper there last time.

[image]

There was even a nice native rock picnic table someone had setup:

[image]

That table might be a bit heavy for me to take along, even in my truck!

Since the trailer usually ends up being the "anchor store" of our campsite mall...the rest of us just kicked back and waited for them to get setup....

[image]

Nice smooth tracks from backing up.... [emoticon]

[image]

Finally setup, awning out for the rain which was off and on:
[image]

Some more rain hit about this time, and the creek suddenly had water in it. I should have gotten a shot of the "front" moving down the sandy creek bed.

[image]

It was interesting that each morning the sand in the creek bed was wet, but there wasn't enough water to actually flow. I was tempted to dig down in the sand a bit to see if there was enough water to fill the bottom of the hole.

Happy hour:

[image]

A short climb up the rocks above camp:

[image]

For the first full day at camp, we slept in then did a mid-day ride up to Lockhart Basin and down Lockhart Canyon to the Colorado River. So nice having reasonably cool weather and no dust this late. The weather was awesome! Here's the gang looking at a landgrid section corner post:

[image]

Junction Butte (above the White Rim Trail) off to the north:
[image]

Where Lockhart Canyon meets the Colorado River....I sure hate seeing all that invasive Tamarisk. It would have been a PITA to try to hike in to the riverside itself.

[image]

Is that sweet TJ that Don has or what? You can also see where a burn was done on the Tamarisk at some point, and also see how ineffective this can be. That stuff is tough!

[image]

Heading back towards camp (though this is still looking north) :
[image]

Digging our comfy home away from home:

[image]

Campsite, evening #2. Finally got around to setting up our trailer as a deck....I really like the flexibility of the flatbed trailer. It makes suich a great deck off the dirt, and out of the rain under the awning:

[image]

Dusk above a quiet camp:
[image]


That's enough for today......a few more updates will come along in the next few days.

* This post was edited 05/07/10 11:10pm by btggraphix *


2006 LanceMax 1191 - loaded and well-used
2005 C4500/Kodiak 4x4, GVWR 17,500


weymard

NORMANDY

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Posted: 05/03/10 03:45pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice report, Thanks for sharing.
hey American fellows do you know that you live in an awesome country !!


FORD F250 LARIAT 4X4 DIESEL 2008
Lance 815 2007
France, Normandy

btggraphix

Golden, CO

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Posted: 05/03/10 03:50pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

weymard wrote:

Nice report, Thanks for sharing.
hey American fellows do you know that you live in an awesome country !!


Thanks weymard - that's one reason I've so rarely been out of this country......it would take more than a lifetime to see it all. But on the other hand, there are other places outside this country to see - it's just hard to get my RV over there! I've really enjoyed seeing your Trip Reports too - sooner or later I'll get to Europe!

bka0721

Republic of Colorado

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Posted: 05/03/10 04:25pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hey btggraphix! Great report, don't waste too much time in getting the updates posted. I agree with you, the Needles area of Canyonlands is such a wonderful place to base camp at and explore. Keep' em coming!

bigfootford

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Posted: 05/03/10 06:22pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for the pix's and story, we love that area!!!

Jim


2000 2500 9.6 Bigfoot,94 F250, Vision 19.5, Mich 245/70XDS2's, Bilstein shocks, air bags/pump, EU2000, PD 9260,Lifeline 100ah, 200W. solar, Morningstar Sunsaver 15A/ display panel, Trimetric, Delorme/laptop, Holux gps rec,led lights, Wave-3 heat.

whazoo

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Posted: 05/03/10 07:15pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Extremely nice trip Brian. Great pictures, all. I'm looking forward to the rest of them. You folks were set up for fun, for sure.

seldomseensmith

Flagstaff, AZ

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Posted: 05/03/10 07:45pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

BTG,

I just got back from the "other" side of the river, and the weather alternated between "wow, what gorgeous canyon weather" to "holy crap, what happened to spring?1?!" If you were set up for it (and obviously you were), it was glorious to be out and about. Nice work - keep the pics and stories coming!


The Road Goes Ever On



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btggraphix

Golden, CO

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Posted: 05/03/10 08:08pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

whazoo wrote:

Extremely nice trip Brian. Great pictures, all. I'm looking forward to the rest of them. You folks were set up for fun, for sure.


Thanks Dave - your choice of words is funny, because as we were waiting for the scouting team to get back from checking for sites a truck full of guys with mountain bikes came by and one yelled out the window "I see fun Coming right up!" or something like that.

seldomseensmith wrote:

BTG,

I just got back from the "other" side of the river, and the weather alternated between "wow, what gorgeous canyon weather" to "holy crap, what happened to spring?1?!" If you were set up for it (and obviously you were), it was glorious to be out and about. Nice work - keep the pics and stories coming!


I'd like to get over there too sometime (the Maze)...but wow, there is still so much to see, even on this side. Don told me they had a near-miss many years ago in their Scout, nearly running out of fuel even though they took in 70 gallons. As cool as it is to drive your camper way back into some of those places - I'll have a lot better chance of covering the most of it via dirt bike. I put up a giant map of the area up in my office after I got back and I'm embarassed about how much time I have spent staring at it while working.....wishing I was still out there.

The weather....yeah, I know what you mean......it was amazing how cool and moist it was - but in just about every climate that's what we like the most. You can always put more gear on to warm up, but there's only so much you can do when it's hot out.

I'm looking forward to your pictures - though dang, it'll steal my thunder since your photos are so awesome. I'm mostly a point and click guy....stopping on the dirt bike for 30 seconds and yanking out my camera for a quick shot. Some turn out good, and others not so much.

seldomseensmith

Flagstaff, AZ

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Posted: 05/03/10 08:39pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

btggraphix wrote:



I'd like to get over there too sometime (the Maze)...but wow, there is still so much to see, even on this side. Don told me they had a near-miss many years ago in their Scout, nearly running out of fuel even though they took in 70 gallons. As cool as it is to drive your camper way back into some of those places - I'll have a lot better chance of covering the most of it via dirt bike.

The weather....yeah, I know what you mean......it was amazing how cool and moist it was - but in just about every climate that's what we like the most. You can always put more gear on to warm up, but there's only so much you can do when it's hot out.

I'm looking forward to your pictures - though dang, it'll steal my thunder since your photos are so awesome. I'm mostly a point and click guy....stopping on the dirt bike for 30 seconds and yanking out my camera for a quick shot. Some turn out good, and others not so much.


Brian,

I WISH I had the cojones to take my truck on the Flint Trail down into the Maze - now that would be a trip report! Unfortunately when I said the "other" side I meant the REST of Utah, not specifically Canyonlands.... although there will be a section in an upcoming report about my visit to another part of the Park.

Thanks for the generous praise of my pics..... but you should know, I am a point-and-shoot kind of guy too - it's just that I take so many pics that a few are bound to look o.k.

Funny that you should mention your inclination to daydream at work about where to go next - I sometimes wonder that I get anything done at all for my job when all I really want to do is go somewhere, anywhere..... must be a TC-related affliction [emoticon] And BTW, the map thing - you can NEVER have too many maps!

btggraphix

Golden, CO

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Posted: 05/03/10 08:54pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

From what Don told me, it might take more than cojones....it might take a bit of masochism too. I guess similar to the Elephant Trail (tomorrow pictures!) there are sections where you can't turn around....you pull forward, stop, then back down the next strecth. But unlike Elephant Hill, its many many time, for very very long sections - it would be no fun to meet someone. It's probably a short wheelbase....or a motorcycle/bike. But wow...the trails look nearly endless.

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