A great night of star gazing in Ridgeway State Park left us refreshed and ready to cross the border into Utah. From what we could tell by looking at pictures we had a big change in landscape ahead of us since the National Parks in Utah seemed to look a whole lot different than the ones we had just encountered in Colorado. As we drove across the western most part of Colorado and said goodbye to a state that had just given us a whole lot of memories and pictures to last for years to come, we started to get a new sense of excitement for new landscapes that would bring unexpected adventures.
As we crossed into Utah there was an expected change in temperature and a slowly disappearing vegetation scene. We were headed to the needles district of Canyonlands National Park. Throughout our planning this national park was the one I had been most excited to see because there were so many different reviews about the expansive areas of the park. The 3 districts of Canyonlands are called the Maze district, located in the southwest part of the park and the most remote district, the Needles district the south east part of the park and fairly accessible but somewhat out of the way of any main city and the Island in the Sky District, the most visited and photographed of all the districts of the park. We had finally arrived to what we thought was the entrance to the Needles District of Canyonlands when we realized that we had a ways to go before we actually got to the park boundaries. . . at least it wasn't a boring drive. This was the first time since we got into Utah that we really got a sense we had crossed over into red rock country. With rock walls on one side and red rock towers on the other, the drive looked like something out of an old western movie.
Making sure we are always hiking with enough water never seemed so important as when we got out of our car to walk into the visitor center for Canyonlands. It was hot and dry on our first short hike and we noticed a weird feeling of sweat evaporating before it beaded up on our dry skin. The Needles District has some great hikes that mix in a little history and great terrain for scrambling. There was also a great short hike we ventured on to find potholes of water teaming with microbial life and mini shrimp. It was a great introduction to stereotypical Utah countryside. As we left the Needles District we didn't realize how big the park was. We drove north on highway 191 through Moab to the Island in the Sky District. It took about 2 hours to drive from one entrance to the other, so if you decide to make the drive give yourself enough time.
We suggest you visit both areas of the Canyonlands to get a full view of how large the park is and get a view from the bottom of the canyons and the top. Canyonlands gives you a chance to see for miles and is fantastic for sunsets or sunrises. You should really try and catch at least one. After an exhausting day we headed back to Moab since we had heard such great things about the town and we decided we could use a meal that we didn't need to boil water for.