I lived in Utah for four years and never went to the parks in Southern Utah. Heck, we even took a vacation to the parks in South Dakota and multiple trips to Yellowstone, but never ventured south. My parents went after I left for college, but 10 years later, I still had yet to go. When Stella and I planned our cross-country road trip we each picked our absolutely-must-not-miss destination. Hers was Miami and mine was the parks in southern Utah. After talking to my parents, doing a little research, and taking into account our limited time, we decided to visit Arches, Zion, and Bryce Canyon.
Since we got a late start at Mesa Verde because of bad weather, we left Cortez, Colorado in the afternoon and rolled into Moab, Utah after dark. We found a nice campground in town and welcomed the warm (and dry!) weather. The drive there was mostly through small towns, and we loved some of the eccentricities we came across (those require a post of their own). We got an early start the next morning to visit Arches National Park and were ready to do plenty of walking (here’s a map if you want to follow along on our stops). After a stop at the Visitor’s Center to find out the best hikes and the best place to watch the sun set, we started our day with an easy hike on Park Avenue. On this trail you can see the area called Courthouse Towers.
Our next stop was Double Arch, Turret Arch, and North and South Windows. I quickly discovered that this park is like a little slice of paradise for me- I love climbing things. Whether it’s a mountain or some bull statues in Dallas, climbing is the best way to explore. We first stopped at Double Arch and climbed up to the highest point underneath it. We even had a Chinese couple motion for us to stand and pose while they snapped maybe five photos of us. It was slightly comical.
As we headed over to Turret Arch, Stella and I were walking behind some biker dudes. One of Stella’s friends back in Germany is big into motorcycles, while another is obsessed with the idea of American truck drivers; so needless to say we talked to lots of interesting characters across the country. Stella made a list of all the things she wanted to do while in the States, and one of those things was to get a photo of some biker guys holding her up. Less than fifteen minutes later, not only did she get a photo with these guys, she was cracking open beers with them in the park while I find an awesome place to climb behind Turret Arch.
Then it was Stella’s turn…
Next up was a short hike to Sand Dune Arch (not pictured) and Broken Arch:
En route, we saw some interesting outfits. I was surprised that a woman would try to explore a National Park in heels, while Stella was always fascinated with how many American flags she saw and the fact that people even wear it!
Our day concluded with a more difficult hike (though only 3 miles round trip) up to Delicate Arch. It’s a beautiful place to take a rest at the end of a long, hot day of exploring and to see the sun set in such a beautiful location.
Stella and I got there with time to kill. We walked around and ended up doing some brain teasers out of a little book Stella had brought in our backpack. We climbed up to some different viewpoints, but eventually settled in a comfortable spot around this bowl shaped area. Although the space around the arch looks empty in the photo below, it got really crowded as it neared sunset. An older Chinese lady dropped her hat, and it was heading down into the deep pit. It went past a few people who weren’t able to reach it, and a young man snatched it up at the last possible second- the whole crowd cheered. It ended up being a nice way to end the day.
The following morning, I wanted to see sunrise out on the Devil’s Garden hike. It would take about an hour’s drive to get there from where we were camping, and needless to say, it didn’t happen. We got up the next morning, packed up our camping equipment, and I dropped Stella off at a bookstore she wanted to check out while I went for one more short hike. I’ll leave you with one last photo of Abe & Alan at Landscape Arch.
Have you been to Arches National Park? If not, take me with you when you go. It’s one of my favorite parks, and I’d love to go back!