Day 10 started with a dramatic sunrise view and ended with enjoying our last Utah sunset of the trip. We began our day by leaving the hotel well before sunrise to head out to Dead Horse State Park for some sunrise photos. Dead Horse is well known as a great place to go for sunrise. The sun gradually rises to fill the canyon with golden red light. The wife grabbed some great photos while I entertained the kids on the overlook. There was a large rock there that my daughter quickly climbed up and proclaimed herself as the “Queen of the Castle”.She then proceeded to make her brother play “store” with her. Lots of fun as they climbed all over things!
One bonus about the main overlook at the park is that it has a nice and tall wall around it. This allows kids to be able to peek a view safely in an area of the country that is full of sheer drop offs and dramatic canyons.
See that road wayyy down below? We will actually be driving on there later on!
The view just gets better and better as the light creeps down into the canyon.
Once the sun was up, we headed over into the Island of the Sky district. This area is part of Canyonlads National Park. We decided to do a quick hike at Mesa Arch with two very whiny kids. (To be fair, we did drag them out of bed even earlier than normal!) The Mesa Arch trail is mostly easy and short, only a half mile. It’s also pretty safe for kids until the very end.
Photographers line up here at sunrise to see the glow of the sun on the arch and the sun peeking over the canyon and around the arch. Use caution with kids here as there is another drop off under the arch.
We made a quick stop at the Visitor’s Center to stamp our National Parks Passport Book. From there, we grabbed a quick snack at the Green River Overlook before heading over to the Aztec Butte Hike to see the granaries there. We told the kids there were small houses at the end of the trail which kept them motivated.
The trail I would label as moderate. It’s not long, but it does involve a little rock scrambling to climb up to the granaries. My tip for finding them is to follow the rock cairns. The path will curve around to the right and appear to disappear over a cliff. There are some rock steps to climb down at this point and then you hug the side of a rock face until the granaries suddenly appear. You can’t see them until you are right upon them.
They really enjoyed exploring the “houses” that were just their size but didn’t understand why they couldn’t climb all over them. (Look, don’t touch!)
From there we were ready to head back to town. But of course we wouldn’t take the highway back and instead went down the best “shortcut” trail back to Moab, the Shafer Trail. The Shafer Trail is not difficult but has an impressive display of switchbacks to climb down from the Island in the Sky plataeu. This is the road visible from Dead Horse Point.
The view below is a portion of the horseshoe curve of the river you see from above at Dead Horse Point.
We stopped and had lunch overlooking the Potash mining operation there outside of town. I’m surprised at how much larger it has gotten since the last time we went through the area. The mine consists of huge blue evaporation ponds that look a bit out of place in the desert.
Once we made it back to town to load up on fuel and snacks, we headed over to the Sand Flats SRA to run over Fins and Things. That trail has gotten a lot more dug out since the last time we went through as well. At one point I took a stock XJ through there, and I’m not so sure I would do that today! It was still a pretty trail and the kids enjoyed the “Roller Coaster” road portion.
We grabbed one more meal from our beloved Milts as we headed out of town to the Castle Valley area for some Sunset Photos.
It was hard to see our last sunset in Moab knowing we had to pack up and head back east the next day. Moab is one of those areas we can visit over and over and it still is magical.