Utah’s National Parks

Reid Bramblett and his friends plan an ambitious trip to visit five national parks in four days. Their trip across Utah is detailed in his article Road Trip: Southern Utah for Budget Travel Online. Here is a description of just part of Day One.

“Day 1: Grand Junction to Moab

Less than 90 minutes after landing in Grand Junction, Colo., we made it to Moab, Utah, a laid-back city wedged between Arches and Canyonlands. We checked into Center Street Hotel, a little inn with communal bathrooms and themed rooms. Ours was the Miner’s Shack; one wall was sculpted into a fake rock face with pickaxes and miners’ helmets mounted on it.

We had booked a mountain-bike ride north of Moab leading to a panorama of the desert from the northern end of Arches National Park. We’d have to grind 700 vertical feet up slickrock, a bald sandstone which, despite the name, is remarkably grippy.

Our guide, from Rim Tours, was a lean young dude called Goose. Nine years ago, he left his home in Ohio, as well as his full name (Mike Gostlin), to guide rafting and biking trips in Colorado and Utah. Goose rode a one-gear with no shocks. Stew and I were on state-of-the-art mountain bikes with fast shifting and full suspension. Not that it helped. Five minutes into the ride, I was gasping for air, pushing my jelly legs to propel myself up a four-mile-long rock ridge.

All I could think was, Thank God for dinosaur prints. The three-toed impressions appeared every 50 yards, and each was surrounded by a circle of stones to keep people away. I disembarked to examine every single one. After the ninth footprint, Goose saw through my sudden interest in paleontology. The ride down was much easier.”