Timeline: September 7-11
The drive from Parker to Moab would be fairly simple, with portions along the I-70 we’d traveled many times. This is a scenic route, crossing over the Rockies at Loveland Pass, the highway carving through steep canyons as sun capped mountain peaks twinkle in the distance. Crossing into Utah you leave the interstate at Crescent Junction and continue south a little over 30 miles on US-191 until you reach Moab.
We’d chosen to camp right in town at Up the Creek Campground, given its easy walking proximity to restaurants and stores. It is a unique set up in that it is for tents only and that you can’t drive your car into the site. They do supply two wheeled carts for you to haul your gear and given that we were in site number one, just off the dirt parking lot, none of this presented an inconvenience.
We set up camp, had a beer while checking out the facilities and then walked up to Main Street (US-191) and a quarter mile south to Moab Brewery, passing a bike shop, supermarket, and outdoor gear shop along the way. The brewery, which bills itself as the largest restaurant in town is a spacious facility. As you enter on the left there is a gelato counter, the brewery store where you can purchase clothing and other branded merchandise, and an off sale refrigerator. Utah limits the amount of alcohol in the beer sold in supermarkets to 3.2%. The only way to get stronger beer is to buy it from the brewery or at the state liquor outlets.
As it was early in the evening we were seated promptly and ordered our first round of beers. Entrees here are nicely sized and reasonably priced, almost all under $10. Joanna and I split an order of Sweet and Hot Thai Calamari to start with and then the Chicken Broccoli Alfredo (Grilled chicken breast, fresh broccoli florets and diced tomatoes in creamy alfredo sauce and penne pasta) which is served with garlic bread. The Calamari was nice, lightly breaded and fried with a spicy sauce accompanying it. It was good but we were hoping for a treatment like we get at a Charlotte restaurant, Dressler’s, where the Calamari is not fried and the sauce envelops the squid.
We returned to camp delighted with our dining experience, one we would repeat the next night. Up early the next day, we drove thirty miles north and east to Dead Horse Point State Park. A number of people had suggested this place to us and by the end of our stay we were glad that they had. We decided to hike the four-mile loop trail and started on the east loop, a good choice as it would turn out to be the most scenic.
Over course of the next few blog posts I’ll be trying to describe the incredible scope and natural beauty of landscapes we visited and viewed. The pictures I’ll include will be as inadequate as the words I’ll use.
Plain and simple these are spectacular vistas formed over the centuries by natural forces, presenting us with grandeur and majesty that defy description.
The views on the east trail swept past towering cliff sides, pools used to produce salt and ended with a bend in the Colorado River.
It was a fairly smooth and level hike, but once we got to the west side the trail became a bit more technical, requiring a bit of mild scrambling up and over rocks and larger steps.
We brought sandwiches to eat at the midway point and so finished with the hike, we left Dead Horse and drove a short distance to Canyonlands National Park. Somehow after Dead Horse this park wasn’t quite as impressive. It was also more crowded, with busloads of tourists, both foreign and domestic. We walked out to the impressive Mesa Arch, dutifully queuing up to take pictures, then drove to a look out to watch a series of cars and trucks negotiate a seemingly impossible stretch of dirt road that climbed up the canyon wall to the top of the cliffs.
We drove back to Moab and hung around in camp a bit, then walked back over to Moab Brewing for dinner and to watch the opening night of the NFL season, the Charlotte Panthers vs the Denver Broncos, a rematch of the Super Bowl. We sat in the bar this time as the dining room we’d eaten in the day before was booked for a large party. We started with a couple of beers, the Porcupine Pilsner and a Over the Top Hefeweizen and ordered the Crab & Artichoke Dip (blended of crab, herbs, & artichoke hearts topped with Parmesan, Kalamata olives and parsley), a large serving scooped up with warm pita chips.
Next up we split a Chile Verde Burrito (slow-cooked pork in a traditional green Chile sauce topped with cheddar and jack cheese, roma tomatoes, black olives and green onions) which was served with veggie chili, rice, salsa and sour cream and a 22ounce bomber of the 8.59%Tripel. The burrito was sizable, the portions generous and just the thing after a long day of hiking. The strength of the beer got to me as we were completing the meal and with the game close, we decided to head back to camp at halftime, a good decision as the Panthers would go on to lose the game.
We walked back on main street, stopping to window shop at the outdoor store where we’d return to a day later to purchase some clothing. As we turned the corner on our way to camp, the sun was setting against a backdrop of cliffs, brilliant reds and browns, impossible to describe the beauty when it catches you unawares like that. I managed to snap an out of focus picture, not my best shot but one that will always remind me of that night and that town.
Up the Creek: http://www.moabupthecreek.com/
Moab Brewery: http://www.themoabbrewery.com/
Dead Horse Point State Park: https://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/dead-horse/