We planned a "tourist" day in the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park, and we were starting it off on the right foot with a good trail. We had perfect weather and we were looking forward to some classic Moab views.
We stopped at the petroglyphs on the highway and took pictures, of course. It was weird passing the entrance to Poison Spider Mesa, too. We rarely take the pavement past that point.
We aired down at the trailhead and started up while it was still a chilly morning. The first climbs were already fun as we worked our way up to the Potash ponds. The group spread out, trying to get out of the dust. It was a dusty trail almost the entire time.
We all stopped to look at the Potash ponds from our vehicles. The salt floating in the water almost looked like little icebergs in a sea of blue and gray. They were pretty, in a way, and kind of weird.
We took the road to the overlook, and it was pretty easy though it wasn't maintained like the main road. The views kept getting better and better, and soon we were at a big parking area near the cliff's edge. Everyone got out to enjoy the view, and we stayed quite awhile. We had all done Chicken Corners in the past, and it was cool to see that trail's overlook across the river.
We headed back to the main trail and the scenery of Dead Horse Point State Park in front of us was unbeatable. Continuing on the main trail, we soon came to Thelma and Louise Point, where they filmed that famous scene. The scenery was almost identical to the scenery at the overlook but it was definitely worth the stop.
The road got a bit narrow next to a big drop-off later in the trail, which was pretty cool. Then we passed up the overlook at the Goose Neck because an RV was there already. It must have been an interesting trip to get there in an RV!
We soon passed into Canyonlands National Park and stopped at the first pit toilet for a break. It was really warming up nicely, without a cloud in the sky.
We got to the end of Shafer Trail and turned right to follow the end of the White Rim trail out on the Shafer Switchbacks. We kept getting closer to the canyon walls but we didn't see our way out until we were very close to them. It was pretty unbelievable that they cut a trail up the side of the cliff.
Going up the switchbacks was definitely a highlight of the whole trip. It was sunny and warm and we didn't see anyone on their way down as we were going up. It seemed pretty intimidating until you were actually on them, and then it wasn't too bad.
We stopped for lunch at the first pullout, and we were very glad that we did. We sat in a row at the edge and we were all mesmerized by the view. You could see our trail and the White Rim trail below us, and you could really see where the White Rim layer of rock was. It was absolutely gorgeous, and we didn't want to leave.
We did finally leave, of course, and we made our way out to the pavement. We paid our park entry fee at the Visitor Center where quite a few of us bought extra maps and books. Then we headed into Island in the Sky for some sightseeing and mild hiking.
It was a great way to start the day!