Canyonlands National Park, located 10 miles outside the small town of Moab Utah, offers adventures for every adventure. From hikers, to 4×4 off-roaders, Canyonlands National Park sees more that 500,000 visitors every year. Split into four districts, Canyonlands National Park includes breathtaking sights from Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the Combine Rivers. Our multi-day adventure took us on an overlanders dream: The White Rim Trail.
My first glimpse of this epic canyon was from the visitors center with a parking lot full of foreign tourists. Across the street was the edge of Canyonlands National Park, a barren wasteland built by millions of years of erosion. When I walked to the edge of the cliff and peered down I spotted a small windy dirt road that snaked down the canyons and trailed off into the distance. I wanted to lean over the edge and take a picture of the bottom of the canyons, but my extreme fear of heights kept me 3 feet from the edge at all times.
This barren winding road was our destination: a 3-day camping trip on the infamous 100 mile loop known as the White Rim Trail. Our adventure started with seat-clenching switchbacks, 20 minutes of pure agony and that “Jesus, take the wheel” feeling. Once on the lower level of the canyon, I was fully surrounded by a prehistoric landscape. What wasn’t a dirt road was cryptobiotic crust, cacti, or brilliant red canyons. No matter how far down we traveled, the road seemed to descend even further. Scott and I are serious campers, but nothing could prepare us for this alien landscape. The 100 degree July heat, sweltering sun, and lack of shade, makes this trip an experts only adventure.
The strange thing about Utah is that you can go from gorgeous Swiss-looking mountains to the surface of Mars within 2 hours of driving. For the majority of our stay, we were with Scott’s parents in a beautiful little valley, but for these three days our eyes feasted on unbelievable views only seen in one specific part of the world. It was like a scene out of Mad Max: Fury Road, clay dust kicked up from underneath the tires like a ball of fire and every inch of our bodies were stained red from the sun or dirt. During the entire trip I only saw about 5 species of animals. I was lucky enough to spot a Desert Bighorn Sheep on my first day – a rarity given a population of 600 sheep in a 100 million acre radius.
Scott and I pitched camp in a dried up flash-flood bed. There was sand at the bottom and it made the perfect nook for our tent. After an exciting day of vastly views and basking in the sun, we put our chairs at the edge of the canyon to watch the sunset. The amber glow of the sky highlighted every ridge of the canyons for miles. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Next thing I knew, Scott had got up from his chair and leaned in close to me on one knee. “Will you marry me?” We both jumped up and hugged, with tears in our eyes, kissing each other and telling each other how much we loved each other. My answer was “yes, absolutely.” I will never forget that day, that view, that moment, or that song –“Closer to the Sun” by Slightly Stupid, that played gently in the background. Just thinking about it now makes me teary-eyed. I love Scott so much and his six months of planning definitely showed.