Glorious mornings and bare butts in Canyonlands National Park

Driven by the urge to visit National Geographic night-time photography of deep valleys and barren lands against a black blanket of stars in real life, Canyonlands National Park was an obvious “must” on the road-trip itinerary.

It’s only about two hours from Arches National Park, which is where we were driving from. Sure, distance wise it looks be an hour and a half-long drive, but once you get inside the park (you will find that the visitor center is on the faaaaar other side) and counting for the construction, it takes about two and a half hours to get there. Sadly, our let’s-only-enter-the-parks-during-night-time-to-avoid-the-fees streak ended here with a $20 entrance.

The aftermath of hiking in Arches National Park forced us to take it pretty easy here. Equipped with expert ranger advice (who coincidentally, was absolutely not able to let us charge our camera in one of the outlets… very bizarre) we set out to check out Grand View Point, Green River Overlook, Upheaval Dome and Murphy Loop. 

So, here’s the deal with Canyonlands. There are two campsites. One in Island of the Sky and one in Needles. Both places were far from our location (the park is gigantic) so after finding out that backcountry camping requires a $30 permit but also that night time hiking is perfectly allowed, we asked for the best trail to do night hiking with the full of intention of… you got it… backcountry camping! It’s so silly to me that backcountry camping even costs anything at all. You literally bring everything you need, leave no impact and use no amenities. Let’s not be pretentious, it’s nature and it should be free.

Green River Overlook

Here’s where the tiredness really kicked in. We both ended up almost passing out by the canyon drop.

A nap spot by a huge crater/ mars-looking landscape as far as the eye can see? Don’t mind if I do!

Upheaval dome

Behold! The arch quest continues! Gorgeous views over dramatic and surreal landscapes made for a perfect photo shoot.

Murphy Loop

This lollipop loop starts at the top of a canyon where you carefully meander down the wall toward a river to reach the campsite is. Mesmerized by the views, we decided to set up camp on the side of the canyon. The entire loop is almost 11 miles and takes a couple of hours to complete.

A few Nahko and Medicine for the People songs later we’re having tuna pasta in the desert sun only to pass out from a food coma and wake up just in time for the sunset. Jacinta had the marvelous idea of taking some naked butt pictures- because, let’s be frank, there is nothing better than being butt naked in the middle of nature. Armed with a tripod and my dying Nikon, she sets up the 10-second timer, runs over to me but heroically falls and now has a scar to show for it. The pictures were still worth it though (not shown here)!

The next morning we pack up this new favorite camp spot of ours to explore Havasu Falls. Had we had more time I would have loved to check out Horse Point Park but then again that area of the park requires a 4-wheeler, so I’m not sure our baby Prius would have done too well in those conditions.

“Cool story, bro. But how much did it cost?”

See this post for a breakdown of the total costs for the trip.


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