Becky and Harold’s Great Adventure of the West: The Last of Arches and Escalante

Our motel offered a complimentary breakfast and after getting ready, we went down to see what they had to offer..  This was not the usual affair.  We were able to order off the menu and we had a breakfast feast.  Generous portions filled us up and after packing the car we were off.  Green River, although small and rundown, had welcomed us with hospitality, a nice place to stay, friendly people, pleasant and relaxing scenery and delicious food.  Now it was time to once again explore Arches National Park. 

I found this formation to be interesting. It was very high, very long, but it was very thin. One wondered how it remained standing.

The arches are amazing structures formed out of millions of years of erosion caused by the movement of the earth, wind and rain.  They are amazing, and they are beautiful.  When we got to the first arche we explored, there were a lot of cars in the parking lot, but as fortune would have it, someone was leaving as we pulled in, so we didn’t have to worry about parking.  There were a lot of people milling around the arches and most were very nice always offering to take our pictures as we did the same for them.  I took a lot of pictures but after ascending to the arch and enjoying the view, we were ready to move on and enjoy the beauty of the “Delicate Arche.” 

There were not as many people at this site as the last, and soon we found out why.  You could hike to two viewing points, the upper and lower sites.  We decided we would hike to the lower.  I now wish we would have gone to the upper but the trail to the lower site was steep, hot (it was now about 94 degrees) and footing was sometimes difficult.  We stopped in a couple of shady spots to rest on the assent, me grasping for breath, but we made it.  It wasn’t really that spectacular.  It was difficult to see, but I had used up all my Wheaties in the assent and so, I think, did Becky, so we stopped there and enjoyed the view.  Descended to the parking lot following our rest at the lower viewpoint, we began our tour of the rest of the park. 

The hike to the Delicate Arche was long and steep and by that time, the temperature was getting close to a 100. We stopped at the lower viewpoint, but it was spectacular, nonetheless.

We drove a lot, but we didn’t hike too much more after the Delicate Arche.  There were a few short walks to viewpoints where we could take pictures, but we drove all the way through this beautiful park gawking at its wonders.  We wanted to leave around 4 to travel to Escalante.  It was over a 200-mile drive, and we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time.  We had no idea of what type of drive were about to embark upon.

The different types of terrain in Utah were amazing.  Green River and much of the drive from Grand Junction was desert and flat with a few but not too many turns in the road.  The road to the Park from Green River was flat and desert but out of the desert floor amazing structures would jet up from nowhere. Carved out of just the right combination of salt, clay and erosion, these giant monuments jutted into the sky, often forming a 500-foot wall.  They were magnificent.  Inside the Park (about 1500 feet in elevation), huge walls of rock rise out of the ground, most of it cast in hues of red.  Just as quickly as the structures appeared, they were gone giving way to desert.  Still, as a reminder of the grand structures we have seen, out of nowhere another one would appear.  It was amazing. 

As we left the Park and began our journey to Escalante, the road was again straight running through a desolate desert area punctuated occasionally by huge rock structures jutting up from the desert floor.  It began to rain and then it really rained, but as it did, the wind kicked up a dust storm, so there was a combination of rain and dust making visibility difficult.  When this ended, the landscape once again changed, and we started into a more mountainous area.  There were pine trees and lots of Aspen groves.  It was beautiful.  Up and up, we went into this beautiful forest rising to about 10 – 11 thousand feet by the time we reached the summit.  It wasn’t too bad of a drive, but the road was windy and at times we had to slow to 25 – 30 mph to navigate the corners and…more rain, the radio occasionally interrupted with warnings of flash flooding,

We started down the mountainous area only to find ourselves in the Grand Staircase area.  This was interesting.  It was getting dark and sometimes the visibility was difficult. To make matters worse, we had started into the Grand Staircase, an area of rugged rock canyons and extremely high cliffs.  At one point we were driving down a narrow road winding itself down the Staircase, 500-foot cliffs on both sides.  The 30-mph speed limit, we decided, was a good idea.  I didn’t get to take pictures because I was driving.  To miss a turn would certainly mean serious injury if not death. I think Becky was also concentrating on the road and unfortunately, she didn’t get any pictures of this amazing area either. 

Arriving in Castaneda, it too was not what we were expecting.  It was a tiny mountain town and as Becky spoke to the owner of the bed and breakfast were going to stay at over the phone, Becky asked where we could get a bite to eat.  She recommended a Pizza place.  We hadn’t really thought about eating pizza, but we found the place easily, stopped and just after we entered the restaurant, it started raining.  It was a deluge and the temperature dropped almost as quickly, it seemed, as the rain.  We were dressed for weather in the high 90s, but at the summit of the mountain we travrsed, it was down to 54 and at Escalante it was now in the mid-60s.  We were a little cold, but happy that we avoided having to walk through the rain to get to the restaurant.

The pizza place was quaint and…the people were very friendly and helpful.  We ordered a small pizza and dinner salad.  The food was amazing.  It took us just long enough to eat it because when we finished, the rain had stopped, and we started out for the Bed and Breakfast, the Slot Canyon Inn.  “I hope they have a hot tub” I told Becky as we started in their direction.

The Slot Canyon Inn is located about 4 miles outside of Escalante, and if it does have a sign, it’s not noticeable.  It was getting dark, so we had to watch carefully to find our turn.  The road was gravel, and it was wet, rainwater pooling up towards the sides of the road and sometimes in the road, but we slowly made our way to the Lodge where we were supposed to check in.  We had rented a cabin called “Casita,” which means “little house.”  The name should have tipped us off to the place we were staying, and the price was considerably less than the other units.  When we drove up to “Casita,” it was indeed a little house—dinky in fact!  The door opened up to what was the bedroom, which led into the bathroom, which was small and had only a shower (the other rooms had Jacuzzies) which led into a very small kitchen area with no real table and only a leather love seat. Becky said it was quaint and cute.  I called it the Motel 6 of Bed and Breakfasts.  I will take some pictures of it because words will not do it justice.  Suffice it to say I’m typing this with my computer on our cooler sitting on the love seat.  There is no other place to put a computer and only pink (Becky says they are orange) foldup chairs provide the only other place to sit.  Oh well, it’s only one night and after enjoying a nice bottle of wine, which we had brought from home, we went to bed. The next morning, I discovered that our accommodations was actually storage crates shoved together and stacked on top of each other to look like a house.

At about 2 in the morning, we were awaked by warnings on our phones.  There had been so much rain, they were telling us not to travel unless we were being evacuated.  Great!  Nothing came of it, however, and we awoke to sunshine in the morning ready to start our adventure once again on day four

After breakfast, which took longer than expected because they burned the first go-around, we said good-bye to the staff (who were very friendly) and the longhorn steers and set out for more adventure.

Published by Harold W. Anderson, Ph.D.

I am a retired United Methodist Minister and recently closed my practice as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, retiring with my wife to Rancho Murieta, CA. Now I have a blog and several hobbies that take up my time. We enjoy traveling and occasionally spending time at our cabin in the mountains of Colorado.

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