It’s a good thing the first day of our Jeep rental was perfect, because the second day didn’t go as planned. We knew we wanted less of a technical and bouncy route than our day on the Fins & Things trail, so chose to go to Canyonlands National Park and figured we’d ask about scenic unpaved roads there.
We dropped the top to make the drive up (I really wanted the full view!), but between the elevation climb out of Moab and the mercurial weather in this area by the time we were in the park the kids were freezing in the back of the Jeep. MsBoyink and I road in warm comfort up front with the heat on but the heat didn’t make it past the front seats. I was a bit surprised that there were no rear seat vents by now.
The Jeep had to be back, washed and gassed up at 5:00 so we were on a bit of a tight timeframe. We stopped at the visitor center to ask about trails, get Miranda signed up for the Junior Ranger program, and figure out what to see in the park. The trail they recommended was a rustic, unpaved but scenic route back to Moab - with an expected timeframe of 2 hours. Perfect. For attractions while in the park we chose the Upheaval Dome, made the 8 mile drive out, and then did the short hike to the scenic overlook.
By now some nasty-looking storm clouds were moving in, so we put the Jeep top back up and quickly put a stir-fry lunch together under a ramada while sitting on our rain coats to keep the wind from taking them.
After lunch we headed back to the ranger station for Miranda to complete her badge while I looked at radar on my phone to make the call on driving the rustic trail home. All I saw was green and yellow splotches over Moab, and the wind was getting crazy creating a sandblasting station in the open Jeep. I think the trail would have been doable while wet, but all I foresaw was a cold damp unhappy ride leading to a Jeep that caked with the red mud Moab is famous for requiring three times the money to power-wash it off.
So we drove the paved roads back just to get home quicker. Coming into Moab the wind was strong enough and at the right angle that it was trying very hard to lift the hood on the Jeep. I could see the hood picking up a bit and straining against the tie downs. Quite nasty.
We grabbed a quick rest & naps at the trailer and then drove the Jeep back into town, gave it a quick powerwash, filled up the tank, and returned it to the rental business.
So - we didn’t see too much of Canyonlands, but enough to know that it’s worth a longer future visit.