Situated in southern Utah about a half hour from the mountain-biking Mecca of Moab, Canyonlands National Park is an explosion of red and purple rock, sagebrush, dead and live pinions twisted by the wind. As Utah’s biggest National Park, it’s a 500-plus square mile labyrinth of chasms created slowly, over eons, by the erosive waters of the Colorado and Green Rivers.
If you’re driving through Utah on I70, you barely need to lift a finger to see the park. Just turn south at the 191 and give it 20 miles. There you’ll be at the Canyonlands access road, which winds solemnly back into the burnt-red desert.
You come upon the canyons themselves suddenly—almost accidentally—after driving over a sprawling expanse of flat. A couple of Park Service signs and then BOOM—you’re at the rim of an abyss. Find a campsite. Set up your tent. And then, real quick before dusk rolls in, make your way to the nearest rim. Watching the sun set over Canyonlands is to know light in every color of the spectrum and the most complete silence you’ve ever experienced.
Portland based Jennifer Sherowski is a former professional snowboarder and also an incredible adventure writer. Check her out at http://jennifersherowski.com/ and follow her awesome adventures @jensherowski because you should.