Up at 6:00 am, we stop at the intersection of Hwy’s 12 and 24 to get coffee at the Subway gas station, walk by the closed visitor information center, and get a huge cinnamon roll at the café. After some sugar and caffeine it’s time for our first hike of the day up to Chimney Rock at Capitol Reef NP. The parking lot upon return seems to be filled with the same cars that followed us into the gas station. We are but moments from a crowd; I can appreciate the small parking lots more when I realize the sounds they help to reduce.
We are able to see a few more viewpoints and trailheads, but the heat of the day is only increasing. Had some other cars not been there, it crossed my mind, for only a second, to maybe let the dogs see some of this beautiful country with their feet in the dirt. They will have to see what they can with the windows rolled down and wait for the grassy area in the parking lot of the visitor center – one of the three places they are allowed out of the car.
We take the scenic drive – 8.2 miles one-way. We are tempted to take a dirt road detour that would take us further into Capitol Reef and over Bullfrog Bay in Glen Canyon using the JAB Ferry, but decide to head east and take Hwy 95 down to Glen Canyon. This way will take us through Hanksville and allow us a stop inside Hollow Mountain Gas & Grocery. The visitor center near Hite is closed – ensuring that we miss plenty that is sight-worthy indoors and out at both parks so far.
Lake Powell is beautiful though. The rocks and water go up and down and around each other. We are able to see a lot of this from the curvy road and dusty stops. I can just imagine the view from on the river. We continue to Natural Bridges and are able to drive the nine-mile loop and do some hiking while the dogs wait in the shaded car hiding from the 84 degrees of heat coming from the sun. We refill two water jugs at the visitor center while eating mangoes for lunch – a juicy, messy treat on a hot day.
We stopped in Monticello, UT to visit their Frontier Museum and get some information from their Southeast Utah Welcome Center. It was an interesting look into the past and at the skills of the people who lived off what the land had to offer hundreds of years ago. An hour later we are roughly 35 miles from Canyonlands National Park when we notice an empty, possibly free, campground. We pick a spot in the middle and then cross the street to wonder on the trails over there. Either the trails weren’t clearly marked or we got lost.
We end up leaving that spot to put less distance between us and the park. We pass many opportunities to park for the night but keep on going until we hit the entrance of the park; camping is full. We turn around and park at the next closest spot – Indian Creek BLM Area. We are a few spots down on the left with a tree and a flat rock, for cooking and sleeping, so we aren’t able to stake the tent. Caleb says we should be fine as long as the wind is calm. (For those wondering why I would worry – tents have been known to blow over cliffs and into rivers or collapse and suffocate people.)
Luckily we are in a dome tent which is better built for wind and far from any threatening rivers or cliffs. We are able to unpack, set up, and enjoy a hot meal during sunset. I start to see stars and the bright sliver of the bottom of the moon. The sky is still orange and yellow where the sun is going on to light other parts of the Earth. I get my tripod out to get one a spectacular photo of the cosmos and with the excitement, all the settings, and the smoke from the fire I’m left with – something less.