Waking up in Arches National Park was an absolute treat. I’m not sure if there are many better morning views than this one. It might turn out to be the picture of the trip. There were no enhancements made to this photo in any way. Just the iPhone held up to the sky.
Wednesday was set up to be an “easier” day. After five days on the road with a hectic schedule, I’ve learned that a little rest and relaxation needs to be built in come day six. Plus, we were still exhausted from our 16-mile day at Arches National Park. We packed up the tent and were out by 7:45am. It seemed like we were the only ones in the park as we drove back to the entrance. A few minutes later, we were in Moab and ready for a shower at Moab Cyclery and a big breakfast at the Moab Diner.
Feeling fresh with a full belly, we drove 30 minutes south to Canyonlands National Park. Canyonlands National Park is known for its dramatic desert landscape carved by the Colorado and Green rivers. In one word – vast. It’s the largest national park in Utah and was signed into law by President Lydon Johnson in 1964. We stopped at the entrance sign to thank Ron Brown once again.
The Shafer Canyon Overlook is one of the more iconic views in the park, and it’s near the entrance. If you have the proper vehicle, you can drive the 18-mile Shafer Trail seen in the picture. We weren’t so sure our Dodge Caravan was Shafer Trail approved, so we settled for staying at the top. I thanked Scott and Lisa Mietchen for their donation. The Mietchens are proud Utahns who live in Salt Lake. Scott has been feeding me tips throughout the trip, and I look forward to seeing him on Friday in Salt Lake City. Scott is a past president of Phi Delta Theta, and I’ve shared many a travel moment with him.
Quite the view.
Zim capturing me capturing the view.
Canyonlands offers another unique Utah national park experience. All five have been completely different. Coming directly from Arches where we were seeking out structured landmarks for the most part, Canyonlands is all about the views. We hiked to Upheaval Dome for another one of those views and thanked Kerrie Herren again.
Canyonlands has two distinct areas. Island in the Sky (northern) and the Needles (southern). We spent our day in the Island in the Sky area and found a structure that we thought represented this name well. I thanked Mike & Deb Purdy again for their donation.
The Green River, coupled with the Colorado River have turned Utah into a thing of beauty. I’m always amazed what water can do to things over time. Having had two flooded basements, I’m also amazed what water can do in an hour’s time, but those are stories for a different day. I really loved the view at the Green River Overlook, and I thanked Ben Fleming, a Fraternity brother of mine. Ben is a generous dude who lives in Paris. My parents were planning a trip through Paris not too long ago, and mom thought it’d be fun to see Ben. I cracked a big smile when she sent pictures with him in a Paris cafe. Ben didn’t think twice about making them feel comfortable on their first day in France.
The Buck Canyon Overlook was our next stop. It totally looks like the earth is cracking in half and coming towards you. At these overlooks, you really have to dial in to understand how big the landscape is. I thanked my musically talented cousin Caleb Good who is going to be the next big star at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.
Buck Canyon. Glorious.
Earlier that morning, I thanked my colleague Jim Rosencrans with a sign eating my delicious skillet at the Moab Diner, but a road sign caught my eye that switched up my strategy. Jim and I work together on growing Phi Delta Theta every day, and we’re also both dog lovers. Jim has a German Shorthaired Pointer with an Irish name – Murphy. I pictured Murphy running this trail off leash and never coming back. Appreciate you Jim!
The Orange Cliffs Overlook was the next stop. Are you sensing an overlook theme here? I thanked Sophie Griffith, daughter of friends Travis and Steph Griffith. Sophie and Cal are the same age, and they are hilarious to watch together. We took the kids to watch Sophie play soccer in Ames this summer, and I think Sophie inspired Tess to take on the sport.
At the southern end of the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands is Grand View Point. It definitely has a grand view and a really fun 2 mile hike. We’re becoming really good at scrambling up and down rocks on this trip. We are injury-free while running/hiking, but not injury-free in the van. Bloody noses for Zim and a hand caught in the stow-and-go for me. At Grand View Point I thanked the wonderful Kevin and Renee Crist Lefter. Two of my favorite Indianans with a passion for seeing things via motorcycle. It’s always a fun time when these two are around. Renee and I are colleagues.
Zim admiring the view.
Our final stop within Canyonlands was the Mesa Arch. It’s a popular stop where many people get in the way of your picture, including me. Totally used to it by now. Sorry folks. The Mesa Arch is even more popular at sunrise/sunset because of the combo arch/canyon view. I thanked Taylor and Haley Abel at Mesa Arch. I’m really looking forward to this upcoming summer. I’ll be taking the entire Good crew to Phi Delt Convention for the first time, and it’s in Pittsburgh, where Taylor and Haley live. We’re going to spend a few extra nights in the city with the Abels. Can’t wait.
We exited Canyonlands and headed for our campsite in Dead Horse State Park, just around the bend. Dead Horse is probably one of the nicest state parks I’ve ever visited! Everything was really nice, including the roads and the bathrooms. We made our way to the overlook, one of the best in Utah. I thanked Sparky Reardon once again for his donation.
I promised myself that I would recreate a picture from the last time I was at Dead Horse State Park. Boom, got it.
Zim at Dead Horse in his brand new Moab Cyclery shirt. Zim loves bikes and shirts (sometimes).
We stayed at the Kayenta Campground in Dead Horse State Park. Really nice place, but very windy! Moments of rest are few and far between on these trips, so I took a moment on the trusty van and thanked Kevin and Renee again.
Here’s me in front of the tent before one of the poles snapped in the wind later that evening while we were at dinner. Fun.
I had one more drive that I wanted to take before the day came to a close. If you ever visit Moab, please jump on HWY 128 and drive along the Colorado River. It is an incredible drive, especially as the sun is setting. Zim and I had some campsite envy, seeing droves of campers alongside the river in tents, vans, buses, you name it. They were everywhere. On the Colorado River, I thanked my sister-in-law Jadee and her husband Jason. Jason and Jadee are both graduates of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, so I thought the Colorado tie-in worked well. We enjoyed Christmas through New Years in Washington, DC last year with the Purdy crew and got to meet our new niece Caroline a few months ago.
We turned around on 128 at the Red Cliffs Lodge. I stayed here probably 10 years ago during a Phi Delt board retreat. It’s an amazing place! Many great memories from Red Cliffs. It only made sense to thank Sean & Michelle Wagner here since Sean and I experienced Red Cliffs together. Sean’s been my friend and boss for 15 years now at Phi Delt and will become the Fraternity’s fifth executive vice president this summer. Sean is going to join me on next year’s running trip. Virginia is the front runner for locations.
We stopped at the in-house winery at Red Cliffs for a quick tasting. I quickly forgot about wine when I saw my new buddy Willy. Such a friendly boxer with amazing parents. Willy was hit by a car as puppy and lost one of his eyes. His parents adopted him soon thereafter. This was exactly what I needed. Rescue dogs, my friends.
One final view of the Colorado River on the way back to Moab. Beauty everywhere you look. We ended the night with burgers at Moab Brewery.
Onward to Park City.