Monday, August 04, 2008

Canyonlands National Park - Needles District

After Mike got done with work, we decided to go for a little ride. We were going to head out to Canyonlands National Park, the Needles District. We were just going to take 191 to 211 but earlier that day we got some information from a town local to take the North Creek Road up to 211 instead of 191.

North Creek Road is a scenic road that goes through a forest and up the mountain then in to Canyonlands. There were quite a bit of deer on this road even at this early hour, 5PM. The road was narrow and there wasn't hardly any traffic on it. There was a bit of gravel in the corners. For a while the road didn’t seem like anything special but then we started to ascend up the mountain, still nothing spectacular until we started the descend down the mountain and we were looking down at the Canyonlands below. The views were pretty amazing.

Open range on North Creek Road

Tight stuff on North Creek Road

North Creek Road

The road twisted down the mountain as we descended through a few tight hair pins. We arrived at 211 and turned toward Canyonlands. The road had just been paved today, the workers were still finishing up. Since the temperatures were still in the mid 90’s the pavement wasn’t cooling off, it felt squishy underneath the tires. I had to slow down since it felt as if my tire was sliding out in the corners. Also the gravel they threw downs on the fresh pavement was shooting up all over the place and it wasn’t helping the traction issues.

Our first stop on 211 was at the Newspaper Rock which is a rock with one of the largest known collections of petroglyphs. Drawings have been added upon drawings through the past 2,000 years.

Parking lot near Newspaper Rock

Newspaper Rock petroglyphs

Gravel stuck to my tires from the fresh pavement on 211

The scenery on 211 was spectacular as we continued toward the park. Colorful rock formations as far as the eye could see. Then we entered the Needles District of Canyonlands and the pavement changed right away, it was not as good as along 211, much older with many tar snakes. Also the scenery wasn't as good. The Needles District was named for the colorful spires of Cedar Mesa Sandstone that dominate the area, the massive red and white eroded sandstone pillars extend for many miles.

Fresh pavement on 211 heading to Canyonlands National Park

New twisty pavement, beautiful scenery, no traffic.... a perfect ride

A lake near SR211

We rode to the end of the 211, got off the bike at Pothole Point and walked around for a bit. There was hardly anyone here and we didn't want to leave this peaceful place, since we left Monticello we’ve only seen about 5 cars. Unfortunately it was getting late we had to start heading back. Going back up through the forest and mountain on North Creek Road would have taken longer and since that was a remote road so there would probably be more deer up there, so we decided to take 211 to 191.

Needles in the distance

Walking around Pothole Point

Cool shaped rocks

The end of SR211 in Canyonlands National Park

By the time we got to the junction of 211 and 191 it was already dark. We made it back to Monticello by 10PM , we were watching closely for deer but we didn’t see any. Riding at night here is not something we want to do, next time we'll have to leave earlier. Even though we only did 125 miles today, it took 5 hours with the few stops and one short walk. I'm still amazed that the pavement and scenery is better on 211 before entering the National Park.

Our 125 mile loop: North Creek Road, SR211, 191

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