Inspired by the fascinating stories, mythical descriptions, and rich imagery of Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire, we spent a few days exploring the south-western deserts of Utah as a way to start our Three Week Western USA Roadtrip. Contrary to Abbey’s call to end industrial tourism in National Parks, we did rely heavily on our set of motorized wheels to see some amazing sights thanks to America’s obsession and frankly impressive commitment to building roads almost everywhere. From driving along scenic highways, regular (also scenic) highways, and within the boundaries of Arche’s National Park, Cannyonlands National Park, and Natural Bridges National Monument we saw some spectacular sites fly by at speeds varying between 30 and 80 miles per hour.
When we did leave the confines of the car for a few short day-hikes, the scenery was even more stunning. We saw slick rock and petrified sand dunes, arches and bridges, petroglyphs and pictographs, blooming cacti and pinion pines, dinosaur tracks and train tracks. The shear immensity of the landscape, the colours, smells, flora, and gravity-defying rock formations revealed themselves as we hiked a total of around 20 miles. As Abbey wrote, “A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles”.
After spending two days around Moab, we headed south towards Arizona via a few stunning detours along scenic byways and some bumpy dirt roads. Our next stop: the Grand Canyon!