off road driving
This landscape was eroded into canyons, buttes, and mesas by the Colorado River, Green River, and their tributaries. The park is divided into four districts by the rivers. There are rock pinnacles and other naturally sculpted rock, as well as artifacts from Ancient Pueblo Peoples.
While offering some wondrous overlooks, be forewarned that the hike to Druid Arch is not easily navigable. My hiking partner and I were separated from the trail on several instances, although our GPS map helped course correct. Even with technological assistance, we were ultimately unable to complete the route as the trail petered out in on a frozen lagoon (approx. 4 to 5 miles in to hike) from which we saw no appreciable way forward. Rock cairns are somewhat helpful, but the Druid Arch trail would benefit from improved signage, lest others share in a similarly unfulfilling experience.
Phenomenal hike. I only wish they would go ahead and add a real trail as I think there would be less of an impact on the fragile soil from people losing track of the cairns, which are sometimes placed, incorrectly. Even though I had hiked this before, it still took me a moment to recognize the final trail up to the alcove. This is all exposed sun, so plan accordingly.
Hiked Oct 22nd, birthday camping trip. My favorite trail we hiked in Canyonlands NP, despite not being an official trail. It is still well followed, but if I remember correctly the hike is unlisted as a means to better protect the class 2 archaeological site at the end. Trail head is unmarked, starts near a guard rail, just south from the Alcove Springs parking lot. From here you just hunt for the next cairn as you walk down into the wash. This leads you down into the side of the canyon with a moderate elevation decent for the length of the trail. Some people had difficulty route finding once they got to the lower section of the canyon trail. Just remember, look for cairns, there will be a set near the bottom of the canyon section that are prompting you to climb up a small step up, and hug the canyon wall until it reaches the actual false kiva. The views at the kiva are mindblowing, we stopped and relaxed here for 2 hours mostly by ourselves. Please be courteous of your fellow hikers! While we were here a group of young 20-somethings showed up and were loud coming down the trail, were throwing rocks around towards the kiva, and were throwing rocks out over the canyon. This is the most outrageous part, because they were throwing rocks over the trail section they had literally just walked up. Just because their level of noise broadcasted their presence to the entire park, doesn't mean a quiet hiker isn't close behind them and could get beaned in the head by some moron who wanted to fling rocks at nature.
Birthday trip to Moab in late Oct. After seeing the sunrise at Mesa Arch we took to this short trail. The parking lot was empty when we got there, while we were making coffee 3 or 4 more cars joined us. After a quick stretch up the hill you reach the 1st overlook. The second overlook grants you a better view of the dome. You'll spend your time here alternating between pondering the massive salt formation at the center of this big crater, and surveying the wide expanse that is the surrounding Moab. The central feature is unlike anything else in the area, and well worth the low effort hike to see it. You can do this hike and several other smaller hikes within a day, and still have time to go elsewhere.
Birthday trip to Moab in late Oct. We got here early to watch the sunrise and found roughly 50 others with the same plan, some were better equipped photographers, others were just there to take in the view like we were. Please be courteous of others and realize everyone is there for the same reason. The trail is very short and rewards you with a grand vista, the arch itself is really just a neat feature to look through. We got to the parking lot about 20 minutes before sunrise and it was full except for some spots close to the road.
We backpacked in and reserved the "Devil's Pocket" campground in "Devil's Kitchen". I can honestly say that this was one of my favorite backpacking trips I have ever made. The trail is listed as "Moderate", but if you're backpacking it can be kinda strenuous. If we didn't have backpacks I'm sure it would have been a lot more chill.
There is so much variety on this loop, it never gets boring. Every variety that Canyonlands has available comes through in the Devil's Pocket Loop.