We wanted our last day in Dead Horse Point State Park and Moab to be memorable, and I still had a few things left on my checklist, so we packed up the jeep for a 4WD down one of the best drives in the canyons: Long Canyon. It isn’t a very long drive, about 8 miles, but it sure packs some excitement – and it includes Pucker Pass, so how could you not do this drive?
The road starts out from the access road to Dead Horse Point, but it is a very bumpy washboard road – even though straight and level. Maybe it isn’t always this bad, but 5 mph was still too fast for the bumps. You reach a spot where there is a BLM campground along the rim (very cool) and then the road takes a pretty sharp left turn, with a “Road Damage” sign warning you of conditions. Ah well, we have a Rubicon – it was made for this stuff.
Well, one quick, tight turn to the right and suddenly you were looking at a steep drop down a narrow track between huge boulders – definitely a one-vehicle stretch. It was actually a very quiet Sunday morning, so we had not spotted any other vehicles on the road, which made this stretch easier. But woah, what a wild ride through the winding, narrow pass. Man that got the adrenaline going! Sure glad there wasn’t anyone coming up the road. And then we saw “the rock” that we had to drive under. Looked like a tight squeeze but we slipped through. Really wanted to stop and get a shot of the jeep under it, but we didn’t want to press our luck.
Every turn, every rise changed the scenery and roadway. For a while we were driving along a wash, glad it had not rained, the next we were up and over some slickrock. It was crazy fun. I think with the Shafer Trail and this Long Canyon we earned our 4WD creds for sure.
The road is something of a “shortcut” across to the paved end of Potash Road. Once there, you are driving beside the Colorado River between the redstone cliffs. Just as we turned onto the road there was a pull-off to view the Jughandle Arch. Great shot of a slender archway in the sandstone. Further on was the parking spot for Corona Arch and Bowtie Arch. Even though it was early Sunday morning, there was already a good crowd getting started on the hike. This was marked as a mile and a half in with a 450 ft. elevation gain. It was pretty much all uphill, winding around the canyon and across some dry washes. Once we rounded the final bend and along a cable-assisted crossing, both arches were quite visible ahead.
We stopped at a landing of sorts and drank water, ate grapes and apples and caught our breath. The next section to the arch itself was pretty strenuous, so Jackie opted to watch me make the cable-assisted climb up the rock and up a ladder and across to the arches. Bit winded by the time I got there, and the temperature was getting warmer, but it really was an amazing thing to see. Since we had not made it all the way to Delicate Arch on our hike in Arches last time, I wanted to be sure to make it to this one. In fact, I think I like Corona Arch better. And Bowtie Arch was a cool round hole through which you could see the clear blue sky. Made for a really nice experience.
The trek back to the Jeep seemed awfully warm as the sun was pretty darn strong in the clear, dry air. Once you got in the shade of the overhanging cliffs it cooled down nicely. Jackie has said more than once that the trekking poles have made it much easier on these uneven, up and down hikes. Good hike and one more on the checklist! We ended the day’s adventure back in Moab, since it is kind of a circle back to camp, did some souvenir shopping, more groceries for the next week or so and treated ourselves to some ice cream.
Camp was another quiet night under a star-filled sky. The Milky Way was very evident as we searched for shooting stars to no avail. Still, you have to wonder how unique we are with all the stars and all the planets that fill our universe – it overwhelms you sometimes.
I have to share a giggle with you. The day we were hustling in to Canyonlands early in the morning to drive the Shafer Trail, we got to the gate to show our Senior Pass and drive in. The ranger on duty was a very helpful young lady who pointed out “you know you have a small bag of garbage on your front bumper, don’t you?” Oh my, how crazy. We forgot to stop at the campground dumpsters and toss it. Good thing she told us, as we might have left a scattering of garbage all the way down the canyon! Blame it on the altitude air-headedness.
So tomorrow it is off to Capitol Reef and more adventures in Utah’s state and national parks. Thanks for coming along with us. A shout out to all our friends and family – Laurie we have you in our thoughts – and Alex and Jim: you trained us well for these exciting 4WD adventures.