We chose to take a guided tour to Canyonlands National Park- a sunset tour, promising the best views. Let me state at the offset that even though most places can be seen on your own, I personally prefer guided tours because I feel you can get the most in the least amount of time plus you are saved all the legwork.
We had to drive to the pick up point at the junction of HWY 128 and US 191 about 14 miles from the lodge. The scenic route is through a canyon along the Colorado and well worth the extra drive.
Our guide was wonderful and very knowledgeable and gave us more information than I had the capacity to absorb. Canyonlands NP is huge and its landscape is diverse. Carved by the Colorado and the Green rivers into numerous canyons and mesas and buttes, it is impossible to explore it all. It is divided into four districts. The Island in the Sky is easily accessible from Moab, a short drive of 30 miles and offers several spectacular viewpoints. We first took a short detour to Dead Horse Point State Park- the views are supposed to be one of the most photographed vistas in the world.
Then we stopped at the Green river overlook, a short hike (so proud of mom for doing it) took us to the stunning Mesa Arch, followed by the breathtaking Shafer Canyon that overlooks an old mining trail where we sat down for a few minutes to savor the sunset.
You’d think the desert landscape is barren and lifeless, surprisingly Canyonlands isn’t. There is desert grass, cacti, small plants, small rodents, skunks, foxes, mountain lions, bats and owls. We spotted a mule deer crossing the road on the way back.
By the time we reached our drop off point, it was pitch dark with no moon in sight. Driving the narrow 128 back to the lodge was quite an adventure, with only the taillights of the vehicle ahead lighting the way. A memorable end to a memorable day.