I knew I couldn’t sell my boys on a camping, biking and hiking trip to Moab so I pitched it as a white water rafting trip and to put the cherry on top- I invited their older cousin, Sean, who they idolize. With rafting on the table, Sebastian (15) and Fletcher (11) were in but unfortunately Beckett and Cady weren't able to join as they went to the NCAA lacrosse Final Four. The trip was planned for Memorial Day and luckily the Colorado River had risen high enough to permit expeditions to rafting the Westwater Canyon. It was a last minute trip so we didn’t have any camping reservations yet we had an ideal spot scoped out along the Gemini Bridge Road.
We left on Saturday morning and arrived just outside of Moab mid-day. The Gemini Bridge Road starts less than a half mile south of Highway 131. It is a dirt road that parallels highway 191 for the first few miles but it quickly ascends about 1000 feet and the road becomes very narrow and rocky with no side rails.
My 4Runner had no problem but my son, Fletcher, had a major problem with the off-roading. As we approached a sharp right turn, it appeared as if we were going to drive off the cliff, Fletcher started freaking out and yelling to stop the car or he was going to jump out. Of course everyone else was laughing but I was able to calm him down and we continue around the bend. Fortunately, that was the worst part and once we turned around the bend, the road headed away from the cliffs and towards flat terrain. Now the next big scare was if the camping area would have an open spot over this holiday weekend. There are only 6 campsites and the first 3 were taken but luckily the 4th was available and I think it was the best one!! We quickly set up camp and then headed back out the way we came in as we had a biking date with Dead Horse Point!
If you aren’t familiar with Dead Horse Point, it is one of the most photographed scenic vistas in the world. It stands 2,000 feet above the Colorado River and the bend in the river was where cowboys used to corral wild mustangs. We biked out the Intrepid trail towards Great Pyramid which provided the most amazing overlook of the Dead Horse canyon. My boys always say they don’t like to mountain bike but they loved these trails as they had jumps, rocks, drops, slick rock and other fun features that you don’t typically find in Park City (yes, they are spoiled). This was by far their best mountain bike outing ever. That night, we whipped up some awesome beef stroganoff at the campsite and roasted some s’mores.
We had to be at the rafting expedition company by 7:00 AM so the alarm went off before sunrise. After checking in, we boarded the bus for a 2 hour drive via Colorado to access the boat drop-in. The boat drop-in area was quite crowded with many other outfitters getting ready for departure and it required a some standing around until we got the boats ready. Soon enough we were on the water but the beginning part of the 17 mile excursion was slow going as the first rapid, Nature’s Chalkboard, was about 2-3 miles down river. But once the rapids started, they came fast and furious with a total of 11 class III & IV rapids over a stretch of about 6 miles. The massive black and red walls of the Westwater Canyon are astonishing and beautiful. During one of the lulls between rapids, our guide allowed the boys to jump into the frigid snow runoff water and rode some mellow rapids which was the highlight of their trip. As we went through the flurry of successive rapids, I recall Fletcher yelling, “I love this” as we dipped into the hollows of the rapids and water splashed over his head.
After we returned to our campsite, Sean motivated Sebastian and Fletcher to climb up the steep, red walls that ensconced our site. The slick rock that makes the Moab area famous is very grippy thus allowing you to scale angles that would normally not be achievable.
Sean and I still hadn’t had enough adrenaline for one day so we headed out on a mountain bike ride along the Gemini Bridge Road which crosses over the Magnificent 7 trail. After riding for over an hour, it was starting to get dark so we hailed down one of the Jeeps driving near the trails and asked for a lift home. We sat on the roof of the Jeep with our bikes as there was no other room in the vehicle.
Sean had never been to Moab so I deemed it necessary that he see one of the many and spectacular arches in the region. Arches National Park is always so crowded so we decided to hike to the Morning Glory Bridge Arch which is a 243-foot long natural bridge making it the 6th largest natural rock span in America. Sebastian was burnt out from too much outdoor stimulation (or something like that) so he didn’t join the fun. The trail follows alongside a shallow creek which requires about 10 crossing as it winds up the canyon. The canyon terminates at the arch and on this morning we were treated to a group that was repelling off the bridge.