Canyonlands - Island In The Sky

DrNed

The mountains are calling and I must go
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Mar 31, 2013
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After looking a variety of options and available dates I decided for our big trip this year we're going to mountain bike the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands - week of Memorial Day. I'm really excited!

In preparation for that trip we did a car camping trip this past Friday & Saturday.

The idea was to get a taste of the area, get everyone excited and see some of the things in the district that we won't see on the White Rim.

After heading out Friday afternoon we reached Horse Thief Campground just after 8:00 PM set up camp, grilled some burgers and turned in early.

Just as we were leaving the campground Saturday morning who should I see but @steve racing by in his "The More We Explore" van. He turned into Gemini Bridges and we continued on into the park.

Our first stop was the Schafer switch backs.
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Because I was not the one driving I was able to see the sights as the road takes you along the top of the canyon.

Wow!

One kid said, "We're going to bike down this?! . . . Awesome!!" Mission accomplished.


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The guys wanted to drive down the switch backs. I said no. This was meant to leave them wanting more . . and it did.

After checking out the Visitors Center, we were off to Mesa Arch. A short little hike, only .5 miles one way.
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It was after doing this little hike that I asked myself, "Why do all the touristy people go to Arches?"

Here at Island In The Sky the hikes are shorter and easier. Don't get me wrong, I love Arches, but the views at Island In The Sky definitely have more bang for your buck.

That was made crystal clear at our next stop, Grand View Point Overlook. This overlook was less than a hundred yard walk from the car.

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This was a good view because we could see the White Rim trail and why it has its name.
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We then took a small trail along the rim.
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After the Grand View Overlook I intended for us to hike the Goosberry Trail down to the White Rim, but I could never find the trailhead.

So it was off to Aztec Butte. I don't remember, but I think this only 2 miles round trip. The trail starts in the sand and then you climb this moderately steep slick rock to the top of the butte.
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Once on top of the butte there is one ruin to check out.
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Then you walk to back side of the butte for a great view into Taylor Canyon.
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Then drop down off the top and there are several ancient storage sites hiding under the rim.
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After the butte we went over to Green River Overlook. Again, great views, and you can drive right up to it.
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Finally, we did the Murphy Point hike. This was the longest of the day, coming in at just over 3.5 miles.
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And that's about it. Took all day but we were able to get all the Island In The Sky sights in.
 

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Last edited:

Jackson

I like to go outside.
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Joined
May 31, 2015
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Awesome! I was there and did two of those same hikes that day. I timed it all wrong and didn't run into you ;) Hardly saw anyone at Grand View or Murphy Point. It sure was a beautiful day to be there.
 

chandlerwest

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Feb 7, 2015
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Did you ever figure out where the Gooseberry Trailhead is? Takes off from the picnic area just north of Grandview Pt. I hear it is a testicular grinder. :eek:
 

DrNed

The mountains are calling and I must go
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Joined
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Awesome! I was there and did two of those same hikes that day. I timed it all wrong and didn't run into you ;) Hardly saw anyone at Grand View or Murphy Point. It sure was a beautiful day to be there.
It was a great day - temps were perfect and not a lot of people.
 

DrNed

The mountains are calling and I must go
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Joined
Mar 31, 2013
Messages
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Did you ever figure out where the Gooseberry Trailhead is? Takes off from the picnic area just north of Grandview Pt. I hear it is a testicular grinder. :eek:
We drove by 2x looking for it, gave up and went on to Aztec. The more I thought about it - I figured it had to be in that picnic area. Thanks.
 
Joined
Feb 10, 2013
Messages
122
I fell in love with Canyonlands when we first visited Island in the Sky last Memorial Day weekend. Just awesomeness all around. I really enjoyed your photos and report.
 

steve

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Dec 11, 2013
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Just as we were leaving the campground Saturday morning who should I see but @steve racing by in his "The More We Explore" van. He turned into Gemini Bridges and we continued on into the park.

That's too funny you saw us. I guess it's pretty hard to miss that van. Man, the road bikers were TERRIBLE that morning. You're going to love white rim. Be sure to check out the slot canyon about 2/3 of the way through (when going clockwise). It's about 20' off the road on the left. It starts as a tiny crack right by the road, but it slots up quick. I wish my video were done from that trip last year. Maybe I'll get it done in the next 2 weeks.
 

DrNed

The mountains are calling and I must go
.
Joined
Mar 31, 2013
Messages
1,016
That's too funny you saw us. I guess it's pretty hard to miss that van. Man, the road bikers were TERRIBLE that morning. You're going to love white rim. Be sure to check out the slot canyon about 2/3 of the way through (when going clockwise). It's about 20' off the road on the left. It starts as a tiny crack right by the road, but it slots up quick. I wish my video were done from that trip last year. Maybe I'll get it done in the next 2 weeks.
Initially we were going to follow you and say hi, but our little Honda Pilot couldn't catch up to your full size van. The van looks awesome by the way.

if you do get the video done please let me know - I definitely want to see it.

Thanks.
 
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