Utah - Mormons, Arches and Canyons

Trip Start Apr 06, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Granstaff Campground

Flag of United States  , Utah
Sunday, May 23, 2010

We arrived in Salt Lake City fresh from a VERY cold final night just south of Grand Teton National Park, and checked into a very well deserved and needed night in a real bed in a warm hostel. Just a stop over night really on our way south to Utah's national parks, and with no expectations about what Salt Lake City may have to offer, we were pleasantly surprised by this really nice, clean, spacious and civilised city. We had a great evening out in The Gateway area of the city, including some delicious hawaiian food and wander around the shops...it was a friday night, and everybody seemed very dressed up, especially in comparison to the dress code in 'shower free' Yellowstone.

Salt Lake City was founded in 1847 by Brigham Young, a mormon leader searching for a persecution free place to set up the headquarters of the Latter-day Saints Church. Today, about half of the people here are members of the LDS, and the cities most famous site is Temple Square; an attractive walled area in the middle of the city housing Salt Lake Temple and other historical buildings. There are also loads of missionaries walking around trying to convert unknowing tourists like us, more than happy to offer a tour of the temples in exchange for having a missionary call in with a bible (as we no longer have a fixed abode, we'll leave you all wondering whose addresses we gave Sister Bryant back home!). 

En route to Arches National Park, Dan insisted that we stop and have a look at Bingham Canyon Copper Mine; the biggest open cast mine in the world, and apparently visible from space! We (?) couldn't get enough of the 300 ton dumper trucks hauling rock in and out of the canyon.

When we arrived at Arches National Park it was really nice weather, hardly a breeze and bright blue skies that made the orange sandstone look amazing. We found a nice place to camp right next to the Colorado River and drove up into the park to explore. About 40 minutes into a walk into the bottom of a canyon, the wind picked up really quickly, whipping up the sand and dumping it all over us...painful. By the time we got back to the car the entire sky was dark orange with sand from the desert and the arches were almost invisible. Great! We headed back to the campground, pee'd off with weather, and with not much else to do other than wait it out and hope that it clears up a bit by tomorrow. Entertainment for the rest of the evening comprised of watching other campers put up their tents and attempt to cook dinner in the middle of a sandstorm!

There are 5 national parks in Utah. Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park are really close together but separate parks; Canyonlands is Utah's largest park and made up of cool rock formations, spires, needles, craters and believe it or not canyons. Arches National Park is full of sandstone arches, left behind as everything else around them erodes. If it's quiet enough you can supposedly hear the rocks cracking and popping as new arches begin to form. Both parks offer amazing topography, especially in the sunshine, and it was fun to spend a day hiking the trails in both parks.
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