Golden Eagle Travel Blog
Utah's Mighty National Parks: June 5 - 11, 2022
Sunday, June 5, 2022
Today’s the day! Twenty-three Tennessee Tech alumni and friends are on our way to Utah for the week. We flew into Grand Junction, Colorado, and our tour guide was at the airport to greet us. We had some free time to explore downtown Grand Junction, grab lunch from one of the local restaurants and browse the unique shops. Tonight, we enjoyed a welcome dinner at the hotel and met our tour guide, motor coach driver and fellow travelers. It’s going to be a great week with an awesome group of people!
Monday, June 6, 2022
We spent our first night in Grand Junction last night. Today we depart for Moab, Utah, for the remainder of the trip. But first – Colorado National Monument! Colorado National Monument features red rocks, deep canyons, sandstone towers and towering monoliths. It was also our first experience with the wildlife in the area. We saw several collared lizards and a couple of big horned sheep. The Visitor’s Center even had a preserved golden eagle! Artists Point (where early settlers often stopped at the panoramic overlook to paint the cliffs and canyons) and the Coke Ovens (a series of four rounded domes that resemble old charcoal ovens) provided unique photo stops. We had lunch in downtown Grand Junction then took Scenic Byway 128 to Moab. It’s referred to by locals as the River Road and is said to be one of the most beautiful and scenic drives in the country. Tonight, we went to dinner at Sunset Grill, a restaurant perched high on a hill with spectacular views of Moab and the surrounding area.
Tuesday, June 7, 2022
Our first stop this morning was Canyonlands National Park, a park known for its dramatic desert landscape carved by the Colorado River. Next, we visited Dead Horse Point State Park and learned the sad story behind its name. As we left the park and made our way back to Moab, our tour guide told us he had a surprise for us: Potash Road Petroglyphs! Archeologists believe that most petroglyphs were done between 600 and 1300 A.D. This evening we had some free time in downtown Moab to shop or enjoy one of the local restaurants.
Wednesday, June 8, 2022
We enjoyed a full day in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park today, including lunch at Goulding’s Lodge (most people tried the traditional Navajo tacos on fry bread!) and a tour with a Navajo (or Dine) guide. The valley features fragile pinnacles of rock surrounded by miles of mesas and buttes, shrubs and trees and windblown sand. The tour included a stop at John Ford’s Point, the location of many classic Western films. Numerous movies have been filmed here including Stagecoach, My Darling Clementine, Fort Apache, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, Forrest Gump, Back to the Future Part III, The Long Ranger, Mission: Impossible 2 and more.
Thursday, June 9, 2022
Today was a free day with an optional excursion to Capitol Reef National Park. Most travelers chose to go to Capitol Reef, and we picked up picnic items on the way to enjoy in the park. Capitol Reef is named for its white sandstone dome that looks like the United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C., and is known for its Waterpocket Fold, a geologic wrinkle in the earth. We had a picnic lunch near Gifford House, which is known for its homemade pies and other bakery items.
Friday, June 10, 2022
Today’s the day most people had been waiting for: Arches National Park! We got up early to beat the crowds (and the heat!) and were pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn’t too busy. The park features more than 2,000 natural stone arches, pinnacles, rock fins and balanced rocks. We saw Balanced Rock, Delicate Arch, the Windows, Double Arch, the Organ, the Three Gossips and more. This afternoon, about half of our travelers participated in an optional Canyonlands Slickrock Hummer Tour where we weaved in and out – and up and down – sandstone hills. The tour included a stop at an overlook to view dinosaur tracks! Tonight, we enjoyed a farewell dinner and an evening cruise down the Colorado River.