November 25, 2014: We left Bryce Canyon National Park and headed towards Arches National Park via Utah Scenic Byway 12. Much of the route was through the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument area which was filled with more beautiful, colorful landscapes, and interesting rock formations.
We stopped at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park where we did a moderately strenuous 1+ mile hike at 6000 feet elevation to view petrified wood. I don’t think I’ve ever seen petrified wood before – you could tell it was wood but now it was solid rock with vibrant colors (the result of minerals).
We continued on Utah Scenic Byway 12, stopping at viewpoints, which took us through some very high elevations. At one point it seemed like we were doing a ridge hike (but in Camper Dan). The highest viewpoint was at 9400 feet. From here, we could see Waterpocket Fold – a hundred mile long reddish formation that is the highlight of Capitol Reef National Park. In official speak Waterpocket Fold is a geologic monocline (a wrinkle on the earth).
Unfortunately, we were more hurried than we would have liked because we were aiming to reach friends in Colorado for Thanksgiving. So, rather than spending a night in Capitol Reef National Park, we drove through it (stopping only at a few pull-outs). Also, we still had to find a town with an auto-parts store to purchase Camper Dan’s new headlight before it got dark; all the towns since Bryce Canyon National Park have looked like ghost towns.
We ended up finding a headlight in Moab and had dinner at Moab Brewery before making our way into Arches National Park after dark. Side note – in Utah beers are not allowed to be over 3.2% ABV when served (there are different rules for takeaway purchases).