Day 3 I woke up next to the river and another cup of awesome camp coffee! That morning we skipped the whole camp cooking situation and munched on some store bought muffins. Before we packed up for the next destination, we decided a shower was a must! After 3 days on the road in 100 degree heat, we were starting to get pretty ripe! We used the camp shower installed by our resident camp trailer fabricator! We were able to enjoy a warm but quick shower in our privacy pop-up tent. It felt great to wash up and I must say I was duly impressed by this luxury added to our trailer.
We packed up camp, noting that we were definitely taking some Utah river sand home with us! I was sad about heading out and wished we had planned to stay one more day at that spot, but alas there was more to see, more fun to be had and many more miles to cover! We put our truck back into 4Wheel drive and crossed the river to head towards the next National Park on our way to Moab.
We entered Capitol Reef National Park and started the Cathedral Valley Road Scenic Backway without really knowing what to expect. We knew we had about 58 miles to cover and that the roads may require some 4Wheeling. We were looking for a campground near the 28 mile mark, planning to set up camp there. Man, was it beautiful, hot and windy up there! The drive started with your typical desert cactus, tumbleweeds and dust views eventually turning into red rock mountains, cliffs and views of amazing canyons.
The first half of the trail didn’t seem to take long at all and before we knew it, we were at the Cathedral Valley Campground! We couldn’t believe our luck as we checked out the stunning views and saw that we were the only campers in the place! We selected a spot, pulled in and hopped outa the truck. Well, that lucky feeling didn’t last too long, because let me tell you that it was hot, hot, hot up on the top of those red rock mountains! Hot next to water is doable, hot in a forest of trees is bearable but scorching hot in the middle of the desert with zero activities but hiking was a no go for these campers! In addition to the heat, we could immediately tell that bugs were going to be an issue. We unanimously decided that while it was a beautiful place to stop and have a picnic, we were not inclined to spend the rest of the day and night baking in the heat! As we started moving around the trailer to get some lunch together, the bug situation went from tolerable to let’s get the hell outa here now!! I’m laughing as I write this remembering how those bitey little buggers had us dancing around, yelling and slapping ourselves silly 😜 No amount of bug spray or citronella was going to make a picnic possible! A little defeated but hopeful, we got our bug bitten butts in the truck and decided to finish the Cathedral Loop and head straight for Moab. Although the rest of the Loop seemed to go on forever, there were some beautiful rock formations to see!
We finally made it onto the highway and were focused on finding some lunch. Now, for those of you who have never been, let me describe Southern Utah and the possibility of just “finding some lunch”! Like most road trips, I assumed that we could drive for a reasonable amount of time and come across a small town, a gas station, ya know maybe some Golden Arches or a Taco Bell at the very least!! We did come across a few small towns, but most of them were desserted looking ghost towns, nothing but cow towns and “the hills have eyes vibe” kinda towns. So, if you’re a foodie, Southern Utah is not the vaca destination for you!
What seemed like hours later we finally came across an RV park with a small diner that looked promising. I had to smile when the nicest, tiniest old lady announced that she was serving us. The place definitely had a small town vibe! I was grateful for the burger and an inside bathroom to pee! After lunch we hit the road and rolled into Moab in the late afternoon.
Moab is a bustling little adventure town and we knew that we’d have to settle for camping in busy/ close quarters. Sure enough, what we found was the last spot in the Big Bend campground right along the Colorado River. The neighboring campground was very close but we decided that “it is what it is”. We pulled in, unhooked the trailer and decided to head into town without setting up because it was about 102 degrees with no shade! The campground was right along the river and the water looked so refreshing but the river was very full and was moving So fast! We’re talking class 5/6 rapids. Well, great..another Mom fail in the vacation swimming department 😳
As we drove into town, advertisements for all the adventures Moab has to offer lined the streets. We knew we were going to spend some time 4Wheeling while in town but we started discussing what other adventure we might get into. As we’re talking, Leah spotted a zip lining storefront and did not hesitate to vocalize her vote. So, we left the storefront with an appointment for the next day. Zip lining was in our future(regardless of my extreme fear of heights) 😱 We decided to check out a local brewery (boo Utah beer) and get a snack before checking out the off-road recreational area for some serious 4Wheeling! After paying our $5, we immediately came across the trail Matt had his heart set on tackling. The trail is called “Hell’s Revenge” and we could see a number of UTV’s climbing the beginning of the trail, going straight up a very steep red rock mountain. As I looked around, I realized we were the ONLY vehicle around not of the UTV variety. GO TOYOTA! Anyway, the plan was to tackle that trail the next morning…but it was still early, it was still hot and I could see Matt chomping at the bit. I said, “let’s do it” and we did but, not without a little butt puckering, a ton of adrenaline induced sweat and some serious truck scrapage!! The biggest suprise of that evening was that Leah did not seem scared, not even once! Coming back down Hell’s Revenge, I finally took a breath and we had one of those good boughts of nervous laughter. I wish the photos could do justice to Hell’s Revenge but you’ll just have to take my word for it!
After a full day we ventured back to our campsite to setup and chill for the night. We made friends with a solo guy next to us and shared a couple beers. He was there trying to take photos of the Milky Way and had some good photography experience to share. As we were talking, it became apparent that we were in for a windy night. In fact it got so windy that night that Leah’s annex room blew around so much that she almost ended up in Oz with Dorothy and Toto 🌪 needless to say, she ended up in bed with us and we all listened to the wind the rest of the night!
After not much sleep, we needed breakfast and coffee asap! We drug our butts into town and after caffeine and a bite to eat we were in much better shape with zip lining to look forward to at 6 p.m.
But first it was time to return to the off-road park and accomplish a second trail. We were in the mood for something a tad less challenging than Hell’s Revenge and decided to try a trail called “Fins and things”. This trail had a little less pucker but was still challenging and tons of fun! At the very beginning of the trail we ran into a family with a broke down buggy/jeep situation. We drove up to see if we could help. Good thing for them since they went 4Wheeling without any tools!! Matt was able to lend them what they needed and we chatted about where we were from and all that jazz. Very nice family!
With our 4Wheeling adventures behind us, it was time to face my fears and take my kid zip lining as promised! The zip lining trip started out in a UTV rise up more red rock, steep climbs and bumpy roads! Our guide was a funny young guy who’s Schtick was to drink coffee with one hang while driving the UTV with the other. He had some great zip line humor and he and his co worker kept us laughing throughout the tour. Leah was the only kid in the group and I was starting to wonder at what point her nerves would start to show. Leah was fearless and thoroughly enjoyed herself on all 6 zip lines, each one getting longer and longer. We saved the best for last when Leah and I zip lined tandem style and let go of the ropes. It was an absolute highlight of the trip to see her sense of adventure come out. Those of you who know Leah are well aware of her quiet/shy nature. She was a totally different person up on those red rocks!