ACTIVITY & ADVENTURE U.S.A

Utah – Wandering Through The Wild West

Inca to Inuit - Utah

The drive from Colorado into Utah has to be up there as one of the most stunning drives of our US leg.  Having run into an old pipe smoking guy at the local tap-house in the foothills of the Rockies we were told that we were about to experience some of the most jaw-dropping scenery America had to offer.  “It’ll change seven times, just you wait and see! Mark my words. 7 times!”. He was referring to the change in scenery.

After having endured twenty odd hours of nothing but flat planes and endless horizon a few days previous it was hard to imagine the landscape offering up much else, but he was right.

With Arches National Park, Utah set to our sat navs we hit the road again. Waving goodbye to Colorado we winded our way through the mammoth valleys of the Rockies, surrounded by scaling grey granite walls and snow capped peaks. Cliffside roads scaled the sides of the mountains for hours on end but as the time passed the first shift in scenery became apparent as the snow and ice slowly melted away, revealing lush alpine mountainsides and cascading waterfalls.

Winding through the valley floors we felt like ants caught between two breeze blocks. Waterfalls from the mountains above fed vast volumes of water into the parallel river which seemed to race us through the mountains. With a blink of an eye, the high stone walls which had surrounded us fell away into flat planes.

Inca to Inuit - Utah

A palette of greys, blues and greens slowly blended into ambers, reds and yellows and the first hint of Utah came into view. The mountains still present but a mile either side of the road, were now rooted in red dirt sands and for the first time, we felt like we’d discovered the Wild West.  For hours and hours, we drove and nothing. No cars, no people, no houses, no petrol stations, just vast red desert.

Inca to Inuit - Utah

Inca to Inuit - Utah

Inca to Inuit - Utah

After an hour of nothing but straight dusty roads, the mountains nudged nearer and nearer to the road once more, creating a bright red corridor for us to drive through. Vegetation began to sprout as water reappeared. Slowly but surely we began to climb up and up. The mountains to our right dropped away to reveal a gigantic canyon, which had been carved out by the Dolores River. As we continued to climb the remnants of old rope bridges across the gorge blew in the cross winds and we realised that this had once been the centre of something. This was, of course, gold panning territory. Built over the Dolores River Canyon, there are still remnants of a hanging flume which was built in the 1880’s to facilitate gold mining.

Inca to Inuit - Utah, Hanging Flume

Inca to Inuit - Utah

As we edged closer to Arches National Park, the mountains became bright burnt orange peaks that had taken on new forms. No longer resembling the jagged peaks of the Rockies, these masses of rocks looked to have been moulded into shape by a greater force. Their smooth sides changing in colour from brown to yellow to orange, the higher they rose.

Inca to Inuit - Utah

Inca to Inuit - Utah

With the majesty of the Rockies still in view and the dramatic walls of orange surrounding us, we pitched our tent just outside Arches . The sky that night was like nothing we had seen before, almost as if the heat from the burnt umber mountains had set the sky alight.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Colin
    21st July 2016 at 8:47 am

    Just fabulous !

  • Reply
    Allison Hutton
    21st July 2016 at 3:58 pm

    We ‘did’ the Arches National Park, along with several more in The Grand Circle Tour. It was a wonderful experience. Glad yo saw it too, and the bison and the bears. So exciting!!!xxx

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