September 30, 2009
The Needles You have cell reception for something like 20 minutes between Joe's and Canyonlands. It's a reminder of what things used to be like, where you could be out of touch and that was a normal way of life. Taking I-70, you will drive for 80 mile stretches with no services, just miles and miles of beautiful desert open range.
Canyonlands is a surreal place. While you are driving into Moab, you can't really see anything; the hillsides obscure the huge area where the Green and Colorado rivers have cut through huge swaths of land. As you keep driving south of Moab, you turn into the park, then drop between the hills and Indian Creek spreads out in front of you like a huge sea of brilliant colored rock. The canyon walls were actually this brilliant orange-gold color in the sunlight, with bands of deep blood red. The contrast against the deep blue sky was incredible.
It's hard to believe that such straight cracks exist in the world that exist in Indian Creek, and in such quantity. There's what looks like an infinite number of trad climbs there, not just in Indian Creek proper, but the DNR land surrounding Canyonlands is home to as many hillsides, most of which I suspect are untouched.
Exactly where we spent our few days there I will keep to myself. But we ended up camping out next to a large wash, where we slept under the looming walls of the larger canyon. Looking for boulders, we hiked down the wash, headed to the canyon floor. What we found were amazing Anasazi ruins, ranging between 2000 and 900 years old.
The area was Anasazi territory, but these ruins had seen very little traffic from people, which was unusual. There is a great bit of the area's history on Glen Canyon and Lake Powell in theKen Burns documentary. They were fairly off the beaten track. We spent our time wandering in the clifflines, scrambling up to look for ruins, scouting for pictographs, scouring the washes to see if we could find arrowheads and bits of pottery. Sean stumbled on a fantastic find — a petroglyph that we think the DNR may not know about, it was very well hidden.
Be prepared for bears while camping. But seeing grey desert foxes is exceptionally cool.