American Locations 17

The trip is from Lewis & Clark Monument, Illinois, to Kickapoo State Park, Illinois, by way of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

Canyonlands Needles District NP, Utah

Early the next morning we left Horsethief and drove back into Moab. We had run our 30 gallon water tank completely dry. We refilled it at a gas station then stopped at a grocery store to stock up on supplies. After, we headed south out on Hwy. 191. I was glad to get out of Moab. The traffic was crazy. It was much better away from the city. We pulled over to see Wilson Arch, which was right alongside the road.

Continuing south on Hwy. 191, we turned west onto Rte. 211. We stopped to see Newspaper Rock.

Here is a Wikipedia article about it:

Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument is a Utah state monument featuring a rock panel carved with one of the largest known collections of petroglyphs.[1] It is located in San Juan County, Utah, along Utah State Route 211, 28 miles (45 km) northwest of Monticello and 53 miles (85 km) south of Moab.

It is along the relatively well-traveled access road into the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park, 12 miles (19 km) from US 191 and 30 miles (48 km) from the park boundary. The 200-square-foot (19 m2) rock is a part of the vertical Wingate sandstone cliffs that enclose the upper end of Indian Creek Canyon, and is covered by hundreds of petroglyphs—one of the largest, best preserved and easily accessed groups in the Southwest. The petroglyphs feature a mixture of human, animal, material and abstract forms.

Newspaper Rock was designated a State Historical Monument in 1961,[2] and was added to the National Register of Historic Places listings in San Juan County, Utah as Indian Creek State Park in 1976.


The first carvings at the Newspaper Rock site were made around 2,000 years ago, left by people from the Archaic, Anasazi, Fremont, Navajo, Anglo, and Pueblo cultures.[3]

In Navajo, the rock is called “Tse’ Hone'” which translates to a rock that tells a story.[3]

The petroglyphs were carved by Native Americans during both the prehistoric and historic periods. There are over 650 rock art designs. The drawings on the rock are of different animals, human figures, and symbols. These carvings include pictures of deer, buffalo, and pronghorn antelope. Some glyphs depict riders on horses, while other images depict past events like in a newspaper. While precisely dating the rock carvings has been difficult, repatination of surface minerals reveals their relative ages. The reason for the large concentration of the petroglyphs is unclear.

The pictures at Newspaper Rock were inscribed into the dark coating on the rock, called desert varnish. Desert varnish is a blackish manganese-iron deposit that gradually forms on exposed sandstone cliff faces owing to the action of rainfall and bacteria. The ancient artists produced the many types of figures and patterns by carefully pecking the coated rock surfaces with sharpened tools to remove the desert varnish and expose the lighter rock beneath. The older figures are themselves becoming darker in color as new varnish slowly develops.

We drove on west on Rte. 211 to Canyonlands Needles District NP. We stopped at the visitor center and learned their campground was full. So we backtracked to just out of the park to a private campground. It was quite beautiful, just as good or better than we could have gotten in the park.

Here’s a better shot of the teepee the campground rented. See the little horned guy on the side of the teepee? I saw that image all over the southwest. It represented a Native American spirt, but I’m not sure from which tribe.

After securing a site, we drove back into the park.

The Dutch Shoe Arch.

Here are some of the camping sites in the park campground we couldn’t get into.

Cactus and a lot of other stuff was blooming.

We returned to our campsite late that afternoon. We had a nice sunset and a beautiful night sky for more star gazing.

Next Location – Canyonlands Needles District NP 2

American Locations 16

The trip is from Lewis & Clark Monument, Illinois, to Kickapoo State Park, Illinois, by way of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

That morning we had to work our way through herds of cattle on the way to Dead Horse Point SP. We saw the visitor center then I hiked the West Rim Trail from there to the Colorado River overlook.

We then drove to the Dead Horse Point overlook. It started raining, so we parked the motor home and had lunch, then a short nap. By the time we woke up the rain had stopped. It is so convenient traveling in a motor home, especially such a small one you can take nearly anywhere. We walked to the overlook.

And hiked along the rim. Notice all the puddles from the just-ended rain.

Notice the trail marker. They are all over the trails, makes it hard to get lost.

The view was spectacular.

By the time we got back to Horsethief I wasn’t ready to quit, so I hiked on a trail from the campground that led far into the trees below our site. This is the view of the trees from our site.

After cloudy skies the two previous stormy nights, this night it was clear and, although still cold, a great night for bundling up in a blanket and laying out gazing at the stars.

Next Location – Canyonlands Needles District NP, Utah

American Locations 15

The trip is from Lewis & Clark Monument, Illinois, to Kickapoo State Park, Illinois, by way of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

Canyonlands NP Island In The Sky District, Utah

The next morning we drove north from Moab on Hwy. 191 to left onto Rte. 313. This short drive took us to Horsethief BLM campground. It was primitive with no water whatsoever, but it was an isolated beautiful place. So different from the private campground in Moab where we had been squeezed in for the last 2 nights.

We drove to Canyonlands NP Island In The Sky District and saw the visitor center, then decided to save the rest for tomorrow. We had already spent most of the day in Arches. We returned to Horsethief to spend what was left of the day lazing around our site. The weather had been pleasant, but it turned cold and windy and rainy that night. We got an early start the next morning and spent the entire day in Canyonlands.

We drove all through the park.

We hiked to Mesa Arch

After, I hiked on the Taylor Spring Trail down from the road as far as the cliff face. It was a challenging hike.

You can see how the trail continues down to and across the bottom.

But that wasn’t for me. I had enough trouble getting back up.

I also hiked the Upheaval Dome Trail.

We both hiked the Rim Trail.

Then drove back to Horsethief. It had been a long exhausting day. That night it was even colder than the night before, with rain and sleet.

Next Location – Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

American Locations 14

The trip is from Lewis & Clark Monument, Illinois, to Kickapoo State Park, Illinois, by way of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

Arches NP, Utah 2

We rose early the following morning to continue touring Arches. It’s easy going in the morning, but as more and more cars and tour buses pour in, the trails get crowded and the parking lots full. Still, Arches is such a large park it can accommodate crowds. We zipped through the front of the park to reach the point where we had stopped yesterday.

In these photos you can see snow-capped mountains in the background.

We drove deeper into the park.

And stopped for one of my two favorite hikes in Arches.

After, we continued driving and parking to look around.

Then we took the second of my two favorite hikes.

Finally, it was back out to the parking lot.

Exhausted once again after two long hikes, we drove back out.

Of course, we still pulled over to look at interesting stuff that caught our eye.

Finally, we drove out of the park back into Moab to crash once again at out cottonwood-infested campground site. Fun can be so exhausting.

Next Location – Canyonlands NP Island In The Sky District

American Locations 13

The trip is from Lewis & Clark Monument, Illinois, to Kickapoo State Park, Illinois, by way of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

Arches NP, Utah

The next morning we got an early start into Arches NP.

As you can see in this picture, there was already a long line to gain entrance. Arches is a very busy national park.

There is a reason for this.

It has singular rock formations.

We pulled over at nearly every stop to look around.

Or course, we parked and hiked to see several formations.

For perspective in size, note the people at the bottom left.

Some formations seem impractical.

Others, just impressive. One arch after another.

How big are some of these arches? Check these photos out.

And still more arches.

And other interesting sights.

It was too much to see in one day. So after we wore ourselves out, we left the park and returned to Moab to crash at our camp site.

Next Location – Arches 2

American Locations 12

The trip is from Lewis & Clark Monument, Illinois, to Kickapoo State Park, Illinois, by way of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

Moab, Utah

The next morning we got back on I-70 at Fruita and continued west. The drive was striking as it followed the Colorado River, with the rugged landscape of McInnis Canyons behind it. Just before reaching Loma the paths of the Interstate and the river diverged Yet it continued to be a scenic drive even without the river as the Interstate plunged into the canyons. We emerged from the conservation area when we crossed from Colorado into Utah. We exited I-70 onto Rte. 128. From here we wouldn’t see an Interstate for weeks. We drove southwest on a rough blacktop road to see the ghost town of Cisco. There wasn’t much to see there except for these critters.

After Cisco, we turned south on Rte. 128. This section of the road was in much better condition. Our route took us back to the Colorado River.

It was a beautiful drive, one of the best of the entire trip.

As always, we picked scenic vistas to get out and stretch our legs.

We also stopped at several small BLM campgrounds along the river, but they were all full. We saw a lot of people from these campgrounds swimming and kayaking in the river. We continued on Rte. 128 along the Colorado River into Moab.

Moab was a huge traffic jam. We checked with Arches NP just north of Moab, but their campgrounds were full. So we drove back into Moab and found a private campground. It was merely a parking lot, with campers squeezed tightly together. What I remember most about this place was the cottonwoods were in bloom and white fuzz filled the air like a snow storm. Everything in the campground was covered in white. We walked around Moab a little, but there wasn’t a lot to see. So we went to bed early in order to get an early start in the morning exploring Arches NP.

Next Location – Arches NP, Utah

American Locations 11

The trip is from Lewis & Clark Monument, Illinois, to Kickapoo State Park, Illinois, by way of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

Colorado National Monument, Colorado

We drove south from Rifle Gap SP to the city of Rifle, where he got on I-70 and continued west. The drive was uneventful until the Interstate caught up with the Colorado River just beyond Grand Junction. It was much more scenic as the Interstate followed the river into Fruita. We exited there and turned south on Rte. 340. This took us into Colorado National Monument.

A twisting road wound from flat plains up into towering mountains.

There were a lot of bicyclists, and we had to carefully work our way around them. There was not much sight clearance on this twisty road. Also, there were many interesting sights on the route drawing my eyes off the blacktop before, and the bicyclists all around, me.

Near the highest elevation, we came to a visitor center where we could park and explore on foot.

My wife kept urging me to take another step back for this picture.

Notice in the picture I took of her she refused to back up any.

Note the visitor center at the top.

There were also some interesting trees along the way.

We got back in the motor home and continued driving the road that ran along the top of the monument. Of course, we stopped often at scenic vistas.

This picture gives some scale to the monument. See the two people at the railing?

After an afternoon of exploring, we exited the monument and found a private campground near the entrance. Following a late dinner, we walked next door to a Dairy Queen. Blizzards were a good way to cap a beautiful but tiring day.

   Next Location – Moab, Utah

American Locations 10

The trip is from Lewis & Clark Monument, Illinois, to Kickapoo State Park, Illinois, by way of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

Rifle Gap State Park, Colorado

Since we were tired from our hike, we didn’t drive very far on I-70. We exited at Rifle, and drove north on Rte. 13 to north on Rte. 325 to Rifle Gap State Park. We set up on the side of a lake.

That evening after dinner we walked around the campground. We realized we were in Colorado when we saw one camper had set his marijuana plants out to get some sun. The next morning we went exploring. We drove further north on Rte. 325 to Rifle Falls State Park and hiked all around the falls. I don’t know what this was growing on top of this stream.

The falls were running good since it was spring.

You could hike beyond the falls…

…to shallow caves.

You could enter the larger ones.

We also hiked to the top of the falls.

This is the creek feeding into the falls.

And going over it.

The view from the top.

After hiking all around the falls, we backtracked south on Rte. 325 to east on 226 to south on 247 to reach Harvey Gap State Park.

We drove around the lake, then got out to eat lunch, then hiked around the lake.

We returned to our campground and hiked around the lake there. The water looked so cold.

Believe it not, there were people out on it. The kayak wouldn’t be so bad if you were careful, but the paddleboard is a different matter. At least he was wearing a wet suit. But it didn’t look like his dog had one on.

We had another relaxing evening, then early the next morning we drove south to I-70 and continued west.

Next Location – Colorado National Monument, Colorado

American Locations 9

The trip is from Lewis & Clark Monument, Illinois, to Kickapoo State Park, Illinois, by way of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

Top of the Rockies Scenic Drive & Glenwood Canyon, Colorado

The next morning we drove north on Hwy. 24 from Leadville on the west leg of the Top of the Rockies Scenic Drive (which took us across Tennessee Pass (10,424 ft.). This time we stopped frequently to look around.

This is an abandoned mining town.

I could have hiked down for a closer look, like this guy in the bottom right did.

But it was a steep climb, so I just zoomed in.

Both the drive in and the drive out on the Top of the Rockies Scenic Drive were incredibly beautiful. We roved around mountain after mountain, one fourteener after another, up and down high mountain passes. An impressive drive. Eventually, we arrived back at I-70 just west of Vail. We continued west on I-70 into Glenwood Canyon. The Interstate through this canyon is an engineering masterpiece. The road follows the Colorado River through a canyon so narrow often the east and west bound lanes are stacked on top of each other. As you can see in these photos.

The Colorado River.

There are several tunnels.

We stopped at a rest area to hike the Hanging Lake Trail. It was rocky and very steep.

But well worth it. Hanging Lake at the end of the trail was a wonder.

There was a higher waterfall feeding into the waterfalls feeding into Hanging Lake.

You could walk behind it.

After sitting down for a while to admire the lake, it was a long rocky way back down.

Near the bottom the Interstate came into view. Almost there.

Then it was back in the motor home to crash. That’s one of several advantages of traveling in a motor home. Your bed is always with you. Anytime you get tired just stretch out in back. After a good rest, it was back onto I-70 to continue west.

Next Location – Rifle Gap State Park, Colorado

American Locations 8

The trip is from Lewis & Clark Monument, Illinois, to Kickapoo State Park, Illinois, by way of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

Leadville, Colorado

Leadville, Colorado, is the highest incorporated city in the country. At 10,152 feet, they call themselves the 2-Mile High City. We had crossed Freemont Pass, which has an elevation of 11,318 feet, yesterday coming into Leadville. Visible side by side to the south of Leadville are Colorado’s 2 tallest peaks – Mt. Elbert (14,440 ft.) and Mt. Massive (14,429 ft.).

After resting a bit, we took a walk through the historic old mining town. It was a sunny day, but at this altitude chilly.

There were a lot of murals.

This mural was especially eye-catching. This is an actual event the town holds in the winter:  horse-drawn skiing.

And this statue of a prospector, which I didn’t get a good angle on.

This old saloon looked impressive.

By the time we finished our walk through town we were finished. At this elevation we were gasping for breath. We had not had a chance to get acclimated, passing from the flatlands of Kansas up to over 10,000 feet in one day. That night it got down to freezing, but we turned on our tank heaters and we were okay. But the next night it was supposed to get even  colder, so we decided not to risk it. We left the next morning for lower elevations and warmer temperatures.

Next Location – Top of the Rockies Scenic Drive & Glenwood Canyon, Colorado