As many times as I have visited Utah, I have never been to any of its national parks, so I was so excited to have a few days for exploring Southern Utah. We left Mesa Verde not so early and with no plan other than to drive to the nearest National Park. Usually I like to have done my research about a place, have a tentative agenda, a few activities planned out for our day. While Mesa Verde is replete with beauty, it is lacking in internet and cell coverage. So without any way to even go to the parks website, we set out to our next destination not even certain if we were headed in the right direction.
Once we got enough cell coverage to get Google maps up and running, I picked the nearest park entrance which happened to be the Needles entrance to Canyonlands National Park. The drive up was lined with sunflowers and layers of colors that popped against the dark gray clouds all around us. I do have to say that if you plan to visit the desert in the summer, timing it during a monsoon is very good idea. However when we arrived at the visitor's center the park ranger explained that due to the heavy iron content in the surrounding rock it was best avoid hiking too far out, in case the storm turned towards us. But you are in luck he told us, because it had just rained leaving the pools filled with water, a rare site, and in the opposite direction of the storms. So we said our thanks and rushed out for another adventure.
Asher, although he had loved Mesa Verde, was very disappointed by the heavily enforced no climbing rules all over the park. He told me it was as if I was told I could not take any pictures while I was there, and I felt his pain instantly. So when we arrived and Asher saw all the rock formations out the window with my promise he could climb on anything, he was more than a little excited. Holden on the other hand having heard the ranger's warning about lightning and seeing it strike all around us and feeling it shake the earth, was skeptical that we'd even make it out alive. I kept reassuring him that it was far enough away to not be a nuisance, but when you grow up out East it is hard to understand how much distance you can see in such a wide open space.
With lots of energy at their disposal and having used up all their self-restraint in Mesa Verde, the kids quickly forgot about any impending weather and got to climbing and exploring. Shockingly the Needles entrance to the park is not as widely visited and we had endless miles to roam all to ourselves. Asher like a bird finally set free just ran, scrambled, jumped and climbed up, over and down anything he could find. He would have disappeared into the great unknown if I had't been there to occasionally remind him of our existence. Then he'd come back red faced and winded asking to go explore in another direction.
Since we were staying nearby we had all day to wander around the park and stop at our leisure. By the end of it we were all happy and tired with still enough time left in the day to enjoy the pool at our campsite and dinner and games in our RV.