Some of the best adventures we’ve had are the ones that aren’t planned and just happen on a whim. We woke up last week and decided we needed to get away, so we packed our bags that morning and headed down to the Abajo Mountains also known as the “Blue Mountain Range” near Monticello, Utah. These mountains peak at over 11,000′ and this forest is thick and rugged. We found the bright blue skies and bold yellow and red fall colored leaves and it was just what we needed in a weekend adventure. Being in the mountains in September is truly the best time of year!

Abajo Mountain Range, Monticello, Utah

What I loved the most is that it felt like we had the whole mountain to ourselves! Some places can be so overrun with people that it takes some of the enjoyment out of it when you are fighting crowds on the trail and for camp spots, but this place truly gives you the feeling of being alone in the wilderness. We went the whole weekend only passing by a few others while we were out exploring! We could hear the large quaking aspen rustling in the wind and the wildlife all around us. We even heard the Elk bugling all over the mountain in the mornings! (And I am still thankful we didn’t run into any bears or mountain lions because we saw some fresh tracks on our hike!) From the top of the Abajo Loop you’ll get views of Comb Ridge, Bears Ears, Canyonlands and the La Sal Mountains. How cool is that??

One of the best things about Utah is that you can cover all different types of terrain in a matter of a few hours. It was so fun to start our day immersed in the tall quakies and pine trees while we were on the Blues and then drop down onto the north side of the mountains to drive right into the desert on our way home.

The Needles District forms the southeast corner of Canyonlands and was named for the spires of Cedar Mesa Sandstone that dominate the area. It feels a little more wild and less touristy in this part of the park and there is so much territory to explore. We loved being able to hike and roam without crowds of people around us like you sometimes get at the more popular side of the park, Island in the Sky.

Needles District, Canyonlands National Park

Some of the popular hiking trails and four wheel drive roads in the Needles District lead to sites like Tower Ruin, Confluence Overlook, Elephant Hill, the Joint Trail, and Chesler Park. This is also a popular area for rock climbing and it’s always fun to see groups of people scattered over the huge cliffs and boulders. This is also where you will find the iconic petroglyph panel Newspaper Rock. The detail here is amazing and one of my favorites we’ve ever seen!

Newspaper Rock

We pretty much just winged this whole trip, waking up every day without a plan and seeing where the day would take us. It felt nice to just go with the flow and not have a huge itinerary of things to do that we needed to check off our list.

It’s been a sad thing over the years to see some of our favorite places overrun with people and trashed because people disrespect the land. So as always when you explore the outdoors make sure to practice the leave no trace principles and leave the area better than you found it so we can all keep enjoying these amazing places for years to come!!

Abajo Mountain Range

33 thoughts on “Abajo

    1. Thank you!! The colors on the mountain were so pretty!! Such a great weekend- if you ever make it down by Monticello you should check out these mountains! Lots of fun hikes through some thick forest wilderness!

      1. I probably will at some point. There’s a lot or random small mountain ranges in central and southern Utah that all seem so amazing!

  1. I totally agree that being in the mountains, or just anywhere in general, in the best in the fall. The scenery looks incredible in the Abajo Mountains. Sounds like you and your family had a wonderful day.

    1. Yes we had the best time!! The views were spectacular and I feel like photos never really do it justice. This time of year is definitely the best!
      Thank you for reading!!!

  2. The colors are so pretty! I’ve only been to Utah in the summer so didn’t get to see the leaves like this. Some of the best trips are those that we don’t plan.

  3. Newspaper Rock is very interesting to look at. I agree some of the best trips are impromptu ones. We took one to Prague once and it’s still one of our best trips to date.

  4. I agree that September is the best time of year. Great photos of fall colors and your family, Melanie. We saw Newspaper Rock a few years ago – a very special place!

  5. The petroglyphs are stunning! Nice to learn about interesting places in Utah. I’m in Colorado nd have been to the national parks in southern Utah many times, but have not ventured far into Canyonlands or other Utah spots.

    1. The National Parks are so fun to explore for sure! If you get a chance to come back to Utah definitely explore some of the areas in canyonlands there is so much to see!!! We feel like we can never see all there is to see down in this area there’s so much to do!!

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