Thursday, April 25, 2013

Needles Area And Lockhart Basin Road At Canyonlands NP

Thursday: (04/25) Lou made a ham and cheese omelet for breakfast. We packed our lunch and headed down to Monticello, the town about 21 miles South. I wanted to top our gas off. We also stopped by the visitor center which was closed as we passed by the other day.

Newspaper Rock In Canyonlands NP
We then headed back North to the road out to the Needles area of the Canyonlands National Park. We stopped at the Newspaper Rock on the way in. It' an Indian petroglyph site.

Views On The Road To The Needles Area of Canyonlands NP  Views On The Road To The Needles Area of Canyonlands NP
The drive out to the Needles Area of Canyonlands NP has some nice views.

Needles Area of Canyonlands NP  Needles Area of Canyonlands NP
We did a quick tour of the Visitor Center and the viewpoints including a short hike out to an Indian ruin. We enjoyed our lunch looking out over the needle rocks.

Lockhart Basin Road Near Canyonlands NP  River View Road In Canyonlands NP Off Road 1
It was getting late (2pm)  when we finally started our Jeep Trek out the Lockhart Basin Road. It's a 4x4 road that goes up to Moab down below the bluffs where we were looking out over the canyonlands yesterday. We had seen portions of the road and it didn't look too bad so we decided to try it. It's about 54 miles up to Moab. When I ask at the Visitor Center they said it was rather an extreme road. About three miles in, just past the second BLM campground, the road went up a hill along a ledge and around a corner. We came upon a manual cattle guard (gate). Most of the cattle guards are automatic cattle guards (those grills across the road) and don't require any action like a gate does. There was no sign at the gate but we had seen an "End Public Lands" sign shortly before. So, even though the road was barely as wide as the Jeep, I turned around and returned a ways back on the road. Another vehicle was then headed up to where we had been so I turned around and waited to see if he came back down the hill. He didn't so we went back up and saw him cruising further up the road. We opened the gate and proceeded on up the road ourselves. Some people have more initiative than I do I guess.

River View Road In Canyonlands NP Off Road 1  Colorado River View Off Lockhart Basin Road  In Canyonlands NP Off Road 1
We made our way up about 20 miles then took a side road out to a Colorado River viewpoint. Our road was in BLM lands until we were almost at the end of the road where we came upon a manual cattle guard (gate). Beyond the gate was the Canyonlands National Park. When we got to the end of the road we couldn't see the river so we took a little walk and found the river was just a couple of hundred feet away from us. We had come clear down to river level and had a really nice view. Going that last 200 feet would have involved getting trough some riverside brush and trees so we enjoyed from our viewpoint.

Canyon View Road In Canyonlands NP Off Road 1
That side road was in heavy sand much of the way but was only 6 miles out.

Canyonlands NP Lockhart Basin Road Canyonlands NP Lockhart Basin Road
We returned to the main road and continued our trek toward Moab. We only went another two miles before the road got really severe. We had two extreme rock crawling spots then the road headed up the side of the bluff on a ledge not much wider than the Jeep. 

Canyonlands NP Lockhart Basin Road  Canyonlands NP Lockhart Basin Road
We crawled on out another four or five miles until we met some campers in a Jeep Rubicon, a real rock crawling vehicle. We asked if they had come down from Moab and they had so we asked out the road ahead. They said the next 15 miles were at least as bad as our past five miles and that at one spot they barely made it through. They said the 15 miles had taken them about 5 hours. We were still a total of 35 miles from Moab with only three hours of daylight left.

Canyonlands NP Lockhart Basin Road  Views Along Lockhart Basin Road, Canyonlands NP
We considered going on a bit further but only got to the rise above their camp and could see the road for the next five miles or so as it clung to the side of the bluff. It was already 5:15pm so we decided to return back the road we came out. We got back to the paved road about 7pm. Nice trip. We may come down the opposite direction on the road from Moab and see how far we can go in a few days when we have moved up there. We will probably start earlier in the day as well. The views down there are much different from those at the top.

Other than the pickup we saw at the beginning that stopped to camp a short ways after the gate and the campers in the Jeep we met where we turned around, there were no other vehicles on the road. Kind of lonely.

White Flowers At Canyonlands NP Flowers By Road 1 Near Canyonlands NP
There aren't too many flowers out but these two were looking pretty good.

Our lunch was ham and cheese sandwiches as usual. Lou made super chorizo nachos for dinner again. It was mostly prepared last night and allowed for a quick dinner when we got home about 7:30pm. Tomorrow we're going to be sure we have a campsite in Moab before we leave our campsite here at Windwhistle. It's too close to the weekend and campgrounds may be full this late in the week. If they are we'll spend the weekend here.

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