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Lavender Canyon

Saturday & Sunday, March 12-13, 2016

Cleft Arch
Cleft Arch above Lavender Canyon in Canyonlands National Park.

This weekend Diane and I went on our first camping trip of the year. We decided to head down to Lavender Canyon and camp just outside the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. It has been almost eight years since I last visited Lavender Canyon, and it rained most of the time we were there on that trip, so I was looking forward to revisiting this area.

On Friday morning I obtained a vehicle day use pass online (I’m not a fan of the new system which requires you to obtain your pass online only 24 hours before your trip), but then I realized that Canyonlands listed the canyon as impassible due to spring runoff on their website. Considering the road status from the Park, I decided not to stop at the Visitor’s Center on Saturday to get the combination for the locked gate. I also didn’t really want to receive another lecture from a Ranger about how I shouldn’t be travelling alone since that speech gets old after hearing it a few times.

The weather forecast was calling for a clear day, so we were surprised to find stormy-looking clouds surrounding the Abajo Mountains as we dropped down into Indian Creek Canyon.

Blue Mountain Morning

Leaving the highway on our way to Lavender Canyon.

Canyonlands National Park

While the road through Davis Canyon seemed pretty well-traveled, as soon as we left Davis Canyon on our way over to Lavender Canyon we didn’t see any other recent tracks, especially in the wide wash of Lavender Creek. The wash alternated between wet and muddy and soft sand, but it was mostly easy and fast driving.

Our first campsite of the year, even though I grabbed the wrong tent that we usually use for car camping trips…

Lavender Camp

The ruins of a small granary near our camp.

Tiny Remains

After getting camp setup, exploring the immediate area, and having lunch, we strapped on our backpacks and started hiking up Lavender Creek and entered Canyonlands National Park. We passed plenty of arches along the way and then I spotted a nice little granary up in a good-sized alcove, so we climbed up to check it out.

This is the nice granary that caught my attention from below.

Lavender Granary

A rougher ruin located in the same alcove.

Rough Door

The texture and color of sandstone.

Desert Textures

There was plenty of water to be found throughout Lavender Canyon, though much of it was fouled up by renegade cows that had found their way past the boundary of the park. Probably through a break in the fencing somewhere. We bumped into a group of three cows further up the canyon.

Lavender Canyon

Another nice ruin that I was able to get close, but not all the way up to. There were a few old moki steps up the final ledge that were a little too tricky for me.

Rockfall Ruin

Our turnaround point for the day was at the impressive Cleft Arch.

Cleft Arch Closeup

Diane was the first to spot Teapot Arch high above.

Teapot Arch

This ruin looked amazingly preserved, but we were unable to find a way to get up to it.

Roof Ruin

Following the wide sandy wash back to camp. It’s obvious than no vehicles have driven here for a while. Probably not since last year? I’m actually glad I didn’t get the combination to the gate and that we hiked in instead.

Lavender Wash

Here’s a view of Campsite Arch shortly before sunset. We were camped below it.

Campsite Arch

I liked the light and shadows on Drumstick Arch near the end of the day, too.

Drumstick Arch

On Sunday morning we slept in late until the sun came up which really helped us adjust to the new Daylight Savings Time that went into effect overnight. Then we packed up camp and drove up the nearby Dry Fork Canyon to visit a few more arches.

Here’s another small ruin and reverse handprint that was near our camp that I photographed on Sunday morning before starting to load up the Jeep.

Barely Standing

Beam Arch near the mouth of Dry Fork Canyon.

Beam Arch

My Jeep on the road in Dry Fork Canyon. It was obvious that no one had driven in this canyon for a while because there were a few rough washed-out sections near the beginning.

Dry Fork Canyon

Before heading back to Moab for a late lunch at Pasta Jay’s and then home, we stopped to visit the awesome petroglyphs of Shay Canyon. I’ve been to these a few times before but this was Diane’s first time here. She was able to spot a few high petroglyphs I had missed before. It’s a really nice site to visit.

Big Panel

Shay Canyon Petroglyphs

Sheep Panel


Big Wall

Front Panel

I pulled over along the highway during the drive back to Moab for one last photo of the La Sal Mountains over the Cameo Cliffs.

La Sal Mountains

>> Lavender Canyon Photo Gallery


  1. Richard R. Barron
    Richard R. Barron March 18, 2016

    I’ve passed the sign for Lavender and Davis Canyons many times on the way to The Needles. Next time I am that way, I’ll make a point to explore them. It looks like great fun. Thanks!

  2. David A Lambert
    David A Lambert December 25, 2020

    Beautiful pics! Beautiful colors and detail! What software do you use to make your pictures come out that good? My pictures never come out that good.

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat December 27, 2020

      I shoot in RAW and develop the RAW files in Adobe CameraRAW and Photoshop.

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