A Dream of Canyonlands- WIP

There’s a fair number of National Parks i’ve visited at this point now and even more that I plan to visit soon.. but I think Canyonlands NP in Utah will forever remain in my top 3 favorites. I visited last October and there are still days where i’ll be at work or getting ready for bed and some memory of it will flash across my mind and i’ll want to drop everything to go visit again now, soon. This is where the inspiration for this piece came from, the memory of my visit and the photos I took there.

I want to say I started this in…mmm….middle of March?And it was meant to be a weekend project but then that didn’t quite happen and now it’s July and i’m still not done with it. Which i’d love to say isn’t what usually happens but that would be a terrible lie. To be fair to myself though, I generally only get to work on any art projects of mine every other weekend or so and by “weekend” I mean about 4 hours on either Saturday or Sunday after I chugged my iced coffee and am feeling productive.

Materials:
Faber-Castel PITT artist pens
Prismacolor colored pencils (currently debating on splurging for some Faber-Castel colored pencils but haven’t decided if i’m feeling that artistic just yet)

I’d very much like to finish this one up soon so I can start on another that i’ve in mind- this time from a photograph that I took in Arches, but we’ll see how that actually goes. For now i’m just hoping the weather keeps giving me sun filled weekends and the bf keeps making me excellent iced coffees.

~m

p.s Don’t mind the fantastically low quality of this iPhone photo, I just didn’t feel this work in progress was worth hauling out the actual camera for, not yet.

Goodbye, Utah- Canyonlands National Park

The thing about roadtrips is, no matter how fantastic a place might be, eventually you have to move on to the next leg of the journey. And as amazing as the time we spent here was, after three full days spent wandering around this corner of Utah, I was ready to pack up and head West.  We finished up our last morning at Canyonlands with a breakfast at the picnic area at Upheaval Dome and then headed out with a playlist heavy on Coldpay and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

I think we’ll be back to Utah, eventually. But considering my heart is almost desperately yearning for a different continent altogether, probably not for a good couple of years. Thats ok though, because while it would be a lie to say i’ve gotten my fill of the marvels this state holds, I think I’ve enough good memories to tide me over till we come back again.

~m

Green River Overlook- Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Orange Cliffs Overlook, Canyondlands national park, Utah Orange Cliffs Overlook, Canyondlands national park, Utah
Green River Overlook, Canyonlands NP
Green River Overlook landscape, Canyonlands NP
Canyonlands NP, Utah
Canyonlands NP, Utah landscape

The second in my series on Canyonlands NP, the last post will be on Friday (hopefully, if procrastination doesn’t just knock me over and sit me down on the couch to watch Star Trek Beyond ).

I had originally meant to just fit these photos in with the last post but there was something holding me back from that…and whether thats the fact that this overlook had that “WOW” factor I hadn’t been expecting or because I had America’s song Horse With No Name on repeat while I edited these photos in Lightroom, no one will ever know. We managed to get this overlook all to ourselves for a good while that morning, and with the sun filtering in and out of the clouds overhead, casting different lights and shadows as it willed, it was magnificent. It’s certainly a different kind of view than the Grand View Point, but perhaps it was the fact that I didn’t have any expectations coming into it that made it all that much more incredible.

Full disclaimer- despite the title of this post, the first two photos are actually from the Orange Cliffs Overlook, which I highly recommend stopping by as well. While we were there, only one other car stopped by and they didn’t even get out of their car. From the road the overlook doesn’t look like much, but if you walk a little further down the path, the land opens up a bit more and you start seeing buttes and other kinds of formations out there which….sure, might not be much to get excited about for a lot of people but, you’ll always find me running out towards whatever geological formations are around 9/10 times.

“You see I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain
La, la, la…”

~m

p.s This song might have been more appropriate while editing photos of Death Valley but, you’ll soon understand why “Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel was much better suited.

It’s Almost Another World, Isn’t it?- Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Shafer Trail Road, Canyonlands National Park

super crowded Mesa Arch
Grand View Point Overlook, Canyonlands National Park

Brian at Canyonlands National Park

M at Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park in October
M at Canyonlands National Park
the blue light at Canyonlands National Park

There is a sense, when you stand at the edge of almost any overlook at this park, of otherworldliness. Your mind rebels at the idea that this vista your eye beholds, that it belongs on this earth. The scale of it all is one thing, but the sheer oddity and variety of all the formations out there on the great expanse, it easily pulls you to imagine you’re far away on some distant world.

The crowds were sparse here, at least when we visited that early morning- though I will say if you’ve plans to enjoy Mesa Arch, time your arrival well in advance and be prepared for loads of people crowded around the formation. Grand View Point Overlook was almost completely deserted when drove up, and compared to the previous day we had stopped by when there was absolutely no parking available, it was a welcome sight. We spent the better part of an hour just wandering around the edges of the overlook there, casting our eyes down down down to where we could see hints of the at times dangerous and high clearance, four-wheel-drive recommended Shafer Trail Road. I think very highly of my beloved Renegade, but that doesn’t mean i’m so foolhardy as to think we should attempt any part of that road, no matter how utterly tempting it might have been. (Definitely something i’ve bookmarked in my mind to come back to later though. )

Leaving the Grand View Point overlook was almost harder than leaving one of my favorite overlooks at the Grand Canyon, and that’s truly saying something, though I guess i’ve a thing for “grand” things.

Don’t we all though?

~m

Those Needles Over Yonder- Canyonlands National Park, Utah

off the Utah road
Utah landscape

In another post (the last post probably) i’ll tell you the story of driving up from north Texas through the belly of Kansas and through the heart of Colorado to end up in this most splendorous corner of Utah. But for now, lets skip past the 2am drive through creepily empty cornfields and move onto the beauty that is driving through Utah. I did it this past March a good bit but crossing into Utah from Colorado after a 12 hour overnight drive was even better than a hot cup of coffee at soothing my weary, and at this point, very dusty soul.

Theres something about the landscape- the land itself- that i’ve been unable to find a likeness to anywhere else that i’ve been to in the USA and even knowing all the other places I would soon see, it was hard to leave at the end of our stay here.

arches, one of the windows

This isn’t to say it was all fun and sunshine however. The title of this post is called Canyonlands, but this photo is actually from Arches. Because see, that was the plan for our first day in Utah…hit Arches early in the morning, spend the day there and then go checked out Canyonlands for sunset. Of course the weather had other plans and a hellish storm followed us in from Colorado and blasted the landscape while we rested in the night, to the point where even running on no sleep, me and the bf still woke up in the middle of the night to what sounded like the norse gods having a rave out in the desert.

We attempted to follow through with the plan though, optimistically thinking that perhaps since we were about 45 min away from Arches in Green River, the weather wouldn’t be so bad there. We got to the park well before sunrise and managed to clamber up to the Windows arch view point during a lull in the rain….at which point the heavens let loose everything they might have possibly been holding and we were pelted with rain that quickly turned to sleet and while I held out as long as I could (being the insane one) the bf eventually talked reason into me….but not until both our clothes had been soaked to the last stitch, we’d been pelted with ice and i’d almost fallen over the arches ledge from the strong winds.

To me it was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life, watching the sun climb its way up the mountains while being violently pelted by the forces of nature and grinning like a blind loon as I clutched the slick rock of the arches ledge. The bf was more practical and made sure my camera didn’t get ruined, got us plastic bags to sit on so we wouldn’t ruin the seats and gently made me see the light in regards to running around the park with soaked clothing. We headed back to the hotel to shower, change, and reassess.

Cayonlands National Park, the Needles
Canyonlands, the needles
The Needles at Canyonlands
Canyonlands National ParkWooden Shoe Overlook, Cayonlands National Park UtahThe Needles at Canyonlands National Park

Just Outside Cayonlands

So, there are three different (and separate) parts to Canyonlands National Park. And yes, I do mean separate as none of them connect to each other by any main linking roads. Did I know this before setting out to Utah? Of course not, you’re talking about the person who went wandering around icey Bryce Canyon in traction-less shoes. Anyways.

Island in the Sky is the most popular part of the Canyonlands park, and it’s easy to see why. Not only is it much closer to the more popular Arches NP, there’s a incredible view almost everywhere you turn up there, something akin to surreal beauty that’s almost heavenly.

The Needles is…well, for one it’s much more out of the way to reach. It takes you quite a long time to even get on the road that leads you to the actual park, and once your on this road, its about an hour before you even get to the entrance station.  And given there are no actual grand overlooks, or even that many overlooks in general, most people choose not to make the drive out there. I can tell you with full honesty the park ranger who met us at the entrance station seemed almost puzzled that we were there.

The drive out there is magnificent though, I can’t stress that enough. If you only have time for one part of Cayonlands NP, yes, do Island in the Sky (the other part is called the Maze and unless you have 4-wheel drive, it’s utterly inaccessible, we didn’t even attempt to make it out there this time) .  But if you’ve got the time, like we did, it’s so very much worth the effort. One of the reason I love traveling to national parks in general is the chance to get away from it all, perhaps not to get in touch with nature since i’m still a creature comforts type of person…but the chance to be awed by nature and the way it shapes the land. That feeling of aloneness that never feels like loneliness when you’re just looking out over a vast landscape. And while Island in the Sky has the “awed by nature” part, it’s generally full of people wherever you go and you won’t be buffeted by winds so much as stray shoulders.

Wandering and exploring around the Needles part of Canyonlands NP was the perfect, though unexpected, way to start our Utah part of the roadtrip though I will say the best views to be seen and experienced lie just before the park boundaries (as the last two photos above where taken half an hour before we even got past the entrance to the actual park). A remote and vastly under appreciated part of the park that i’m glad we made the trek out to experience.

~m