November 30, 2012

Klondike Bluffs, Arches National Park, Moab

One of the biggest issues people have when they come to the Moab area is what to do about their dogs? Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park sit just across from each other separated by just a few miles by Moab and the Spanish Valley. Yet, neither of these amazing geological areas are open to dogs. Just on a hunch, we decided to get as close to Arches as possible and see what we could find that would allow us to take our dogs with us.

Looking up the Salt Valley toward the La Sal Mountains in the distance

We drove into Arches National Park from the main entrance just a couple of miles north of Moab on US-191. We then drove almost completely through the park until arriving at the Salt Valley Road on the left. This dirt road drops off the spectacular red-finned bluffs into the desolate Salt Valley, which is a down-drop basin associated with faulting in the region and the Paradox formation, which is a thousand-foot thick layer of salt associated when the region was a warm, shallow sea surrounded by hot desert climates. As the salt dissolved away with groundwater intrusion, the area sunk downward to form the valley.

Following the fenceline of Arches National Park toward Klondike Bluffs

We drove 10.1 miles across the valley to the north until we reached the Klondike Bluffs trail access road. However, that trailhead is still within the park and does not allow dogs. So, we continued for one mile further until we saw a sign indicating we were leaving the park boundary. Safely on BLM lands, we parked the car and began walking the fenceline toward the bluffs, dogs in tow.

At one point we looked up and saw a whole herd of Mule Deer on the rocky slopes. They saw the dogs and took off up what was almost a vertical slope. But, that gave us an idea, let's follow their route to the top of the bluffs for a panoramic view. Surely if they can do it, so can we.

A view of Klondike Bluffs with the La Sal Mountains in the distance

We began climbing the slope, hand-over-hand in places toward the first of several false summits. But, really it wasn't too bad in most places, as we just followed the deer tracks on already laid game trails. Upon reaching the top, there was a spectacular 360 degree view of the region.

Hilina is turning into a real hiker and rock climber. She loved scrambling up the slopes and did not complain one time. In fact, she was even laughing and excited about each new rocky reach to scale. I know our old bones and joints were far worse off than her spry little body, even if her limbs are not as long.

From the top, we could see across the Moab Fault and off toward the distant Henry Mountains. You could see north toward the San Rafael Swell, the cliffs of Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point, and south across all of Arches National Park.

It was a fun off-trail adventure. The dogs loved climbing the rocks and exploring the game trails. It was like being in Arches National Park, without the rules.

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