Moab 2015: Two Hikes at Canyonlands


In my last post, I conquered my fear of zip-lining, but we were only half-way through the day! I had more hiking adventures planned for us in the afternoon!

After zip-lining, the day was heating up, so we changed into shorts and were on our way. We grabbed what we thought would be a quick lunch before getting out to hike at Canyonlands National Park. Best laid plans…

We went to the Peace Tree Café again, which we had visited when we were in Moab the year before. We got an outdoor table, our waiter took our order quickly, our food arrived quickly, and it was great. Jon had a Cobb salad and a beet/carrot/celery juiced drink, and I had a burger with Pepper Jack cheese and a Diet Coke.

But that’s where the trouble began, because our waiter did a “vanishing act”. We kept seeing him heading to other tables nearby but would never even look our direction. After trying to get his attention for at least 10 minutes, I went to the hostess podium to get our check. What great service at the beginning only to flop at the end…

But soon enough, we were headed to Canyonlands. I had two hikes I wanted to do – I researched hikes that were easy, because Jon didn’t want anything strenuous the day before his half-marathon. The first was the Aztec Butte Trail.

The view of the mesa from the Aztec Butte Trail

The view of the mesa from the Aztec Butte Trail

You begin hiking through the soft sand of the mesa top, with scrub brush and early spring flowers all around. One spur of this trail takes you around a butte, and then there is a short hike up slick rock to get onto the Butte. Once on the butte, you can climb down to an overhang where there are two granaries beneath the overhang, built by Puebloan people who lived in Canyonlands Park. They are very simple – nothing like the cliff dwellings you see at Mesa Verde or Bandelier, but neat nonetheless.

A Puebloan Granary on the Aztec Butte Trail

A Puebloan Granary on the Aztec Butte Trail

The main trail of the Aztec Butte Trail heads up a different slick rock hill – a fairly short steep trail up another butte. This trail features a couple more Puebloan ruins, and spectacular views of the mesa top. We only went a little way up this trail so we didn’t overdo it – but we liked what we saw.

The view from the Aztec Butte Trail

The view from the Aztec Butte Trail

Our second hike that day was a 2 mile round trip out and back hike along the rim of the canyon, called the Grand View Point Trail. The trail is very easy hiking, with mostly flat terrain and some steps cut into the stone at certain points. We hiked along the mesa edge (not too close though) with views overlooking Monument Basin – to me it looked like really, huge, chubby fingers. There are several tall spires jutting up from the valley floor in this area – the tallest one is called the Totem Pole and is 305 feet tall.

The "chubby fingers" of Monument Basin

The “chubby fingers” of Monument Basin

The view into Monument Basin on the Grand View Point Trail

The view into Monument Basin on the Grand View Point Trail

Blooming wildflowers at Canyonlands

Blooming wildflowers at Canyonlands

The trail ends at Grand View Point and provides some really fabulous views of the Canyon below, as well as Junction Butte to the south. Grand View Point is the southernmost tip of the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park, and from it you can see the Needles District to the south, and the rarely visited Maze District to the West.

The view from Grand View Point.

The view from Grand View Point.

The rock formations at Grand View Point

The rock formations at Grand View Point

The hike also offers some great views of the Schafer Rim Trail, a 100 mile back country road for off-road vehicles. You can easily see the old mining roads that cut across the bottom of the canyon, built when Canyonlands was mined for uranium in the 1950s.

I think this is a Side Blotched Lizard.

I think this is a Side Blotched Lizard.

The Grand View Point Trail is a nice easy hike for people of all abilities and would be good for kids, as long as they are old enough to follow instructions and not venture too close to the edge of the canyon.

What a spectacular day we had enjoying our National Parks!

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