exploring Utah – arches national park

arches national park

Gaston and Jamie at Arches National Park

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It was hard to leave our amazing house in Alton, UT but we needed to keep driving West. As we made our way over to our cabin in Moab, Gaston mentioned that his Dad had asked why we weren’t doing all of the Mighty 5 Parks in Utah. Call me impractical, but if you tell me there is a checklist to complete or a something called the Mighty 5 in Utah and we’ve already invested into 4 of them by accident, I’m not going to let it go. Our itinerary was airtight, so Capital Reef would need to be left off…..for this leg of our trip. More to come on that one later on.

…..more below.

cliff notes

hikes. Windows and Turret Arch Loop, Devil’s Garden, Double Arch Trail, Delicate Arch Trail.

things to do. gaze in awe at black dragon canyon as you drive east on I-70 towards Moab if you’re driving from the west. stay at Moab Springs Ranch. grab a beer and gelato at Moab Brewery. grab a quesadilla at Quesadilla Mobila. visit Balanced Rock. take your time on Arches scenic drive.

coulda, shoulda, woulda. visit Tower Arch, visit Sand Dune Arch trail. Off Road at Hell’s Revenge (you need a permit)! get into the water and explore the canyons of Moab. explore to Moab wineries.

tips.

  • carry extra water – having a bladder in your backpack is nice
  • pack that sunscreen.

As we drove out east on I-70, We set our sites towards Arches National Park for sunset. The good thing about this park is that it is a literal 8 minute drive away from Moab. Though we loved the cabin we stayed in around Escalante, that commute was a lot longer, so we were grateful for the close proximity of the park to the town. The good thing about Arches National Park is that there is a big punch packed in a relatively small area. We set up shop in the parking lot that was not only walking distance from the Turret Arch and the North and South Windows, but a simple walk across the street from Double and Cove Arches. There’s an arch for everyone!

After a short little loop around what is called the Windows Section of the park, we thought it’d be nice to find a little spot to pop down and have an alcoholic beverage. We found that there were no cars around the Garden of Eden so we sat down and took a little breather. Coming from Los Angeles where there quite simply is no place where you experience pure silence, it was a pretty amazing end to the day. We packed up our stuff and drove towards Moab Springs Ranch where we were planning on staying. The town of Moab is super charming and most things are off of Main Street, also known as part of Hwy 191. We made a little pit stop at the The Village Market to grab some supplies for dinner which was right next to the lovely Moab Brewery. Not only does the brewery have great beer, but you have to have some strong willpower not to give in and get some of the gelato.

Moab Springs Ranch is adorable. Individual ranch houses line the property giving you that cozy, cabin-y feel you love after a long day. As we began settling in, Jamie found a binder with details about the property. On the very last page, there was mention of a property cat named Wizard. I’m not sure if you’ve had the opportunity to stop by the Top 5 section of this blog, but as these blog entries continue you will find that what started as me having zero excitement for cats slowly morphed into the complete opposite and I am now a bonafide cat-o-holic. Look out for the Top 5 Favorite Adventure Cats post. It’ll be a cute one! Anyways, I was tired and I also wanted to get a head start at cooking dinner. Jamie found a little trail behind the ranch houses that surrounds a pond and meadow on the site and of course ran into Wizard on the way. From this moment on, there would be a level of jealousy and fear that I had missed my one and only chance to meet the ranch kitty. We had a long day ahead of us so we gobbled up dinner and got ready for our big hike the following day.

We set our sites on the Devils Garden hike which is a 7.9 mile hike, 1,085 foot elevation and a nice convenient loop, which is my favorite kind of hike. This hike is pretty spectacular and guarantees that you will see numerous arches while at the park named in honor of them. If you want to do some advance research about it, the arches you’ll see include the Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch, Private Arch, Dark Angel Arch, Double O Arch, Partition Arch, Navajo Arch and the Landscape Arch. This would be a good hike to turn offline maps on for, because it’s definitely easy to get lost. For much of the Southeast Utah region, The Paradox Formation holds a lot of responsibility in what we have the pleasure of gazing at, particularly within the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Evaporites are water soluble mineral deposits that, with the right conditions, liquify and flow through wherever they can causing layers of rock to move and fracture over time. As a result we get the beautiful arches that we saw at Devil’s Garden as well as the grabens and needles that we will see the next day in Canyonlands.

We knew we had a long day tomorrow, realizing that we were going to attempt a pretty ambitious schedule of fitting in both the Island in the Sky and The Needles sections of Canyonlands, as well as Dead Horse Point. If I could do it all over again, I would have probably spread this out onto 2-3 days instead of 1. But alas, we now have a reason to return. This roadtrip to Colorado was transforming into something I’d never had imagined. Prior to this, my passion for hiking and National Parks was little to none, but this experience was definitely shaping into something more spectacular than I could have imagined. I was excited to see what was up next.

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