Did you know that kangaroo rats, common to the desert regions, have almost no need for water and that their kidneys reduce their urine to a crystal-like substance? Neither did I! I learned this interesting fact at Canyonlands National Park. It was only appropriate that we visited Canyonlands, one of America’s wonderful National Parks, on the day the Ken Burns’ documentary of our National Parks premiered on PBS. The Parks truly are one of America’s best ideas and if you didn‘t catch the entire series, you can watch it online until October 9, 2009 or check your local listings: http://www.pbs.org/nationalparks/. Highly recommend this inspiring documentary as well as supporting and visiting our national parks.
After a wonderful, but too brief, tour of Arches National Park, we set off to explore Canyonlands for our second day in Moab. We made a worthwhile stop at the visitor center to not only learn interesting facts about kangaroo rats, but also pick up a trail guide. There are dirt roads that go through the canyons that are open to 4×4 vehicles. We briefly considered the fact that we were in a 4×4 truck but at a nearby overlook, saw a portion of the road, noted how narrow it was, noted how steep the drop-off to one side was, and noted the large size of our vehicle. (And, just between you and me, I’m not sure Chris could handle getting his truck that dirty.) So, we opted for the paved road through the park…this time! With our handy trail guide from the visitor center, we picked two short hikes: Upheaval Dome and Grandview trails, both about two miles each.
The Upheaval Dome, a geological formation whose origins are still debated by geologists, was an easy trail, with the exception of the part where I realized I was standing at the edge looking really far down into the canyon and the world started spinning…again. Are there any cures for this? Chris is not happy with this new development…nor am I. But, I survived. I just stayed away from the edge and tried to appear calm.
The trail is marked by cairns (piles of stones) since much of the hike is along slick rock and one can easily go the wrong way. Despite my brief encounter with dizziness, the trail was enjoyable and had amazing sights. At the trailhead, there are several picnic tables, where Chris and I enjoyed another delicious picnic of peanut butter sandwiches and bananas. I guess I need to start being more creative with my picnics, eh?
Our next trail was Grandview, another two-mile, easy trail. The parking lot for the trailhead was crowded but surprisingly, people only got out of their cars, looked over the fence at the “grand view” and then got back in their cars. So, we basically had the trail to ourselves. As advertised, the hike was very easy and very beautiful. We had a great time, stopping for many pictures along the way. The trail comes to an abrupt end and suddenly you are, once again, at the edge of a very steep drop-off. Thankfully, with this one, I was fine and able to enjoy the views. While the views at the trailhead are indeed grand, the end of the trail provided additional stunning views, and even a quick glimpse of a kangaroo rat!
Following our afternoon in Canyonlands, we spent a lovely evening strolling the streets of downtown Moab. I was, of course, drawn immediately to the bookstores, while Chris could not resist the outdoor stores. We finished our day with dinner in downtown Moab, where our waitress greeted us not with a hello, but rather by describing a fool-proof plan (or so she thinks) on how a wife can murder a husband and get away with it. She was kidding. I hope.