Tower Arch

April 13, Thursday

It’s another travel day, goodbye Valley of the Gods! Before noon I’m passing through Bluff, UT, the cute little town that I’ve been utilizing for laundry and showers while in the area. If you get the chance, stop at the Twin Rocks Trading Post – neat scenery and the Navajo Taco at the cafe next door is quite good.

191 curves to the north and climbs in elevation. To the west, a group of peaks stand covered in snow. I stop in Monticello, UT at 7,000 feet to make lunch and have to put on a hoodie. It’s colder than it was when I left in the morning and the wind is strong.

Okay, have you ever felt that on driving days the wind is always blowing against you, no matter which direction you’re headed? It sure seems that way to me, and so I’m noting the wind here because it’s coming from the south, meaning it’s helping rather than hindering me. I just want this written reminder as proof to myself that the wind is not always out to thwart me! Alright, moving on…

Utah is so beautiful. The redrock sandstone formations continue to impress, I haven’t grown tired of them yet. As the turnoff for Canyonlands NP approaches, carved bluffs, pillars, and mounds become more numerous again. Construction forces 191 down to one lane and I’m stuck waiting for a while, but with scenery like this, who can complain?

Sometime after the construction ends, traffic starts increasing, and a large number of the vehicles are Jeeps.

I have friends who work at the KOA in Moab and they’ve managed to secure a site for me for two nights despite the huge Jeep Safari rally happening in town. It’s one of the big events of the year and most campgrounds, RV parks, and boondocking locations are completely packed with off-roaders.

There’s another Casita in the row ahead of me (a 2001 I find out from the owner), and a bunch of unique and rugged trailers meant to be towed into the backcountry. The rig next to the Casita is mostly open to the elements and carries gear, but the owners have put one of those pop-up roof tents on top of the trailer part to sleep in. I always thought those tents were pretty cool but they cost a lot of money.

There’s a lot of activity in the campground and in the evening conversation and grilling smells from multiple directions combine to make a unique tapestry of life. It seems a lot of these people know each other, or maybe it’s just a camaraderie forged from a common interest in Jeeping. I worry about what the noise level will be like overnight, but it’s surprisingly quiet both nights, and I sleep just fine.

April 15, Saturday

Back to the boonies! I continue north on 191 out of Moab past the entrance for Arches National Park. Near Canyonlands Field Airport is the turnoff for Klondike Bluffs road.

Remember last post how I mentioned that the dirt road in Monument Valley was rougher than any road I’d camped down? Well, Klondike Bluffs gives that road a run for it’s money.

There’s little wash-boarding and no ruts, but a whole lot of bumps and dips. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have come down it to camp if I hadn’t been enticed by the company of Kelly and Marshall, who assured me it was less crowded than other boondocks closer to Moab (I think I can see why given the road quality). Four and a half miles (and 40 minutes) later I arrive at their camp, and because I went at a snail’s pace the Casita is still in good working order.

Taken from the Jeep road

The mountains in the distance to the southeast are nice and a bit of Arches NP is visible from this site (including an arch, but with rock behind it and at a distance of a couple miles it’s not obvious), but the more immediate surroundings… well they’re not bad, but it’s not like Valley of the Gods.

The real beauty of this camp can be seen when you walk up a side road towards the park. A couple hours after I arrive, a Jeep tour comes past camp on the road.

Later in the evening, the three of us take a walk with Kelly’s dogs in tow. Maybe half a mile in you get this view of the park, I’m looking forward to having this in my extended backyard:

The arch is visible if you know where to look

Kelly sets up her phone to catch pictures of us jumping on the ledge, like the goof-balls we are.

April 16, Sunday

Today, we’re hiking to that arch that’s visible from camp. It’s called Tower Arch and we’re estimating it’ll be six miles round-trip out and back, but it’s hard to say for sure because there isn’t a trail that leads all the way there from where we are. We start on the Jeep trail to the overlook from last night, and then cut across the slick-rock that looked like loaves of bread from above. There’s a lot of up and down.

Then we meet up with a 4×4 road inside the park that goes to the arch. We see a single Jeep on this road, and that’s the only people we see all day. This being the last day of the big Jeep event AND a free admission day for the park, this is a pretty incredible feat. It probably helps that Tower Arch is 22 miles from the park entrance – getting off the beaten path pays off.

At the arch, great fins of sandstone stand in rows. It’s clear that the arch formed when the innards of one of these fins collapsed. Behind the fins are pillars of rock with knobby hats. The site looked neat from a distance, but is much more impressive close up.

It’s big! There’s a sign from 2014 saying that there’s been rock fall activity at the arch and visitors are encouraged to keep a safe distance. So naturally we go right on in.

The lighting is not ideal right now with everything back-lit, but that means that turning around to get a picture through the arch looking back the way we came works quite well. Cas and Bertha appear as a speck of white in the distance, too small to show up at all in a photo. We sit under the arch and have a snack. Swallows chase each other around the rocky obstacle coarse, but otherwise it’s quiet. Another great day of adventure.

There’s another tiny arch nearby, and several other formations that we scope out. The Marching Men is the name given to a group of spires standing in a row, rather like the Three Sisters in Monument Valley. Also like at Monument Valley they’re back-lit and not very photo-worthy. The 4×4 road continues northeast back to the main road, but we need to retrace our route to get back to camp. We arrive back shortly after noon and at exactly six miles walked, along with something like 60 flights of stairs.

* * *

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  1. desiderio yanez on April 18, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    hello beckyhow old od your casita and would you recommend a new or used one

    • Becky on April 21, 2017 at 4:21 pm

      It’s a ’99, you can read all about it and my review of living in it here:

      If a new one fits in your budget, probably new? Nothing wrong with the old ones though.

  2. sdw on April 18, 2017 at 11:29 am

    What kind of camper does Kelly have Becky?

    • Becky on April 21, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      A Slingshot 24 by Crossroads.

  3. Alan Belisle on April 18, 2017 at 7:20 am

    Such an interesting landscape, with massive stone monoliths popping up out of the sand! I have to really admire your strong young legs that carry you so far and wide. I remember hiking for pleasure, but it was long ago. Savor your days as they fly by.
    Alan Belisle recently posted..Bardstown, Kentucky 4/7/17 – 4/14/17My Profile

    • Becky on April 18, 2017 at 5:44 pm

      I don’t take a single day for granted Alan, that’s why I went full-timing as early as I did. 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed this.

  4. Jeff on April 17, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    I’m sure the main roads within Arches can be congested, but like so many parks just getting off the main road the scenery improves and the crowds are gone. Great hike!

    • Becky on April 18, 2017 at 5:43 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Jeff.

  5. Jodee Gravel on April 17, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    How lucky to enjoy this beautiful place without the crush of the Jeep event! The arch is spectacular. We can’t wait to see Utah this Fall.
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Back in the FireMy Profile

    • Becky on April 18, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      I know Jodee how lucky were we? It was a fantastic way to spend Easter. You’re going to love it out here.

  6. Gerri & Mike on April 17, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    Gorgeous!! What an incredible hike. Obviously it does pay to get off the beaten bath.
    We plan to be in this area (and others) in late summer/early fall. I’m taking notes!!
    Gerri & Mike recently posted..An Easter TraditionMy Profile

    • Becky on April 18, 2017 at 5:41 pm

      It sure does Gerri and Mike! You’re going to love it when you get out here.

  7. Ron on April 17, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    Amazing hike and scenery.

    • Becky on April 18, 2017 at 5:35 pm

      Thanks Ron.

  8. marijka on April 17, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    SO BEAUTIFUL!! And I love their dog peeking under your feet. haha Folks in my car-community (FJ Cruisers) love those roof-top tents, too, but I get up too much at night and figure I’d just fall out when nature called… So it’s a regular tent for me!

    • Becky on April 18, 2017 at 5:34 pm

      That’s Kelly’s dog Trixie, she’s a cutie.

      Yeah I could see that being a problem. I’d also worry about those roof tents in strong wind acting like a sail for the vehicle, haha.

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