Just a short run out of Monticello there is the southern entrance to the Canyonlands NP. As I was riding towards the park the Indian Creek recreation area gave me an unexpected treat - a tight little desert canyon adorned with high walls and thick green vegetation, not to mention the road to match. Canyonlands is a mecca for off-roaders - it has quite a few 4x4 only roads. I consulted with a park ranger first and then picked two less challenging gravel roads to go to. The first one was short and well graded/packed and it led me to a very interesting hike around some cave dwellings and a spring.
Next there was a longer and more challenging, narrow, bumpy and curvy one. Both ridden without incidents. All the while the scenery kept changing from solid rock to washes to more rock, just different every time.
Next leg took me through Moab (it looks like all they drive here are high clearance vehicles :) ) to Arches NP. That was a special kind of scenery overload. The road is great but there was too much traffic for real carving so I took my time stopping at every corner for pictures and went for a hike to the Windows arches.
All that stopping and hiking took a toll on me so at around 6 I was ready to punch out for the day. However, that would mean to skip the northern part of Canyonlands - something I wasn't willing to do. So on I went and was in for a extremely entertaining ride on the canyon rim. Series of fast sweepers first, followed by tight sets of level twisties. Some engineer really did a number on this one :). At the end I was greeted with one of the most magnificent views of the canyons so far. Met some fine people too, a young couple by the names of Kim and Pablo. After a brief and very friendly chat it was time to ride into the sunset. The joy of that road was only somewhat reduced by the fact that it was dusk and I was tired.
Start looking for a place to crash.
The GPS said Super 8 in Green River. About 40 miles on I70 later (I haven't been on the Interstate for days now) and I was there, only to find out they are booked solid. So were 3-4 other places I checked. Getting pretty desperate, hungry and very tired I finally found a vacancy in a place that looked like something from the (bad) movies. I don't want to spoil your next meal by describing it any further. I had Power Gel for dinner. I'll try to get some sleep and get he hell out of here ASAP. If anything, this will teach me to appreciate Duda's help with booking even more.
All in all, Canyonlands and Arches more than compensated for the disappointment that was Monument Valley. I know no one will skip it because of me, but at least get in from the North. It's shorter.
Temperatures were in the mid thirties all day. I drank a lot of water and Gatorade to keep hydrated. A guy told me they are forecasting some pretty hasty thunder-showers for Northern Utah. Be as it may, I know I won't be sleeping here another night.