Thursday was the day for our Jeep Adventure, so we were up bright and early, lunches packed, and arrived at Outlaw Jeep Tours before they even opened! They were ready for us, though, and we quickly completed the paperwork while Nick & Bryce checked out the autographed Mustang bumper from one of their favorite television shows, Top Gear.
If I’m counting correctly, this is the 3rd location we’ve visited that was featured on an episode of Top Gear . . . it’s always a highlight for the boys!
Dwayne reviewed the Jeeps functions with Tom,
and we loaded up our stuff! We had come up with a plan for which trails we were going to go on, which we reviewed with the Outlaw guys to make sure we’d have enough time. They said we should be able to complete them, and reassured us that we had planned a great day! We were ready to hit the trails!
It was a beautiful, sunny day, and even though the high was predicted to be close to 110 degrees, it wasn’t too bad yet, and we had plenty of water!
We drove north out of Moab, until we reached Potash Road, which took us along the Colorado River to our first trail – Long Canyon Trail. We made the turn at Jughandle Arch,
and started up Long Canyon Trail. The trail wasn’t too bad to drive on, but quickly started to climb up the side of the canyon!
Tom handled the Jeep really well, and the views as we climbed out of the canyon were beautiful!
We knew we had just about reached the top when we came to Pucker Pass.
The woman in the Moab Visitor Center had warned us about it – “You’ll come to a point where it will look like there is a big boulder blocking the road, but don’t turn around! Just drive under it!”
Nicolas got out to guide Tom, but we had plenty of room!
Soon after Pucker Pass, we reached the top, and found several campsites overlooking the canyon.
From here, Long Canyon Trail took us to Highway 313, near the entrance of Canyonlands National Park. The next leg of our adventure was the Gemini Bridges Trail.
This trail stayed on the top of the canyon, and was actually pretty easy – we saw lots of non-4x4 vehicles driving out to the Gemini Bridges site, although Tom still managed to have some fun in the Jeep!
Gemini Bridges are two side-by-side alcove arches, separated by a 6-foot gap. Up until a few years ago, vehicles were allowed to drive over them, but them somebody drove his Jeep off and dies there, so now vehicles are no longer allowed. I don’t think I would have wanted to drive over them anyway – walking over them was exciting enough!
Leaving the Gemini Bridges parking area, we made our first attempt at driving over slickrock . . .
. . . No problem!
Our plan from there was to go back the way we came, to Highway 313 and into Canyonlands National Park. We did take a small detour down a spur trail where we ran into a group of mountain bikers from an Adventure Camp.
That looked like WAY too much work for a vacation!! Several of the Dads said, “We should have rented Jeeps!”
Back on the Highway, we entered Canyonlands,
and stopped at the Visitor Center to have lunch under one of their picnic shelters.
After lunch, we backtracked about a mile to the White Rim Road, which would take us to the next leg of our adventure – Schafer Trail.
The road quickly began descending into the canyon through a series of steep, sharp switchbacks!
We could see the bottom of the canyon, and knew we had a ways to go to get there!
This was definitely an exciting part of the trail! Dwayne had recommended that we take Schafer Trail DOWN into the canyon, rather than UP, so that I would be on the canyon side of the Jeep, and not on the ridge side. The only problem was, in this stretch, Nicolas was riding shotgun, and I was in the back seat – on the driver’s side, so I was looking over the edge the whole way!!
Finally, we reached the bottom, and I could breathe a sigh of relief!
From here, we would depart from White Rim Road and continue on Schafer Trail, but first we took a 3-mile detour to see Musselman Arch.
Musselman Arch is a 6-foot wide bridge arch that spans 187 feet, 300 feet above the canyon floor.
We walked across – very carefully!
We had heard that you can take a picture on the arch from a particular angle, where the arch would blend in with the rocks in the background and it would appear that you were suspended in air.
We couldn’t figure out the right angle!
On the way back to Schafer Trail, we stopped at the Colorado River Overlook.
While we were out there, we met a family from New York who were camping in the canyon overnight – they were pretty adventurous!
We continued through the canyon, admiring the rock formations along the way.
After several more miles of Schafer Trail, we arrived back on Potash Road,
and caught our first glimpses of the potash evaporation pools.
They looked like huge swimming pools out in the desert! As hot as it was, they looked REALLY inviting, too! We didn’t know what they were, so I had to google “potash”. Turns out, it’s potassium underground which is dissolved by the injection of saltwater into mines deep below the surface. The liquid is then pumped into these pools to evaporate, leaving a white crystalline product.
Blue dye is injected into the water to speed up the evaporation process. Once evaporation is complete, the crystals are collected and the potassium is separated from the salt.
Arriving at the Potash facility completed the loop portion of our Jeep adventure . . . and we still have a few hours left in our rental!
Nicolas had a little mishap getting out of the backseat of the Jeep once, and ripped his shorts, so we stopped back at the RV so he could change clothes and take Casey out for a walk. We also stopped at Outlaw to refresh the ice in our cooler, and then headed back to the Salt Flats Recreation Area for the REALLY adventurous portion of our day!
It’s getting late, though, so that’s going to have to be a separate blog post . . . stay tuned!