Moab (Part One): Arches National Park

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The 3 of us under Delicate Arch

*Info and Tips on camping in Moab at the bottom of this post*

The drive from Dinosaur National Monument to Park City is about 3 hours. We had another comp night waiting for us at the Hyatt Escala Lodge, one of our favorite Hyatt’s (I did a blog post on another trip to Park City and our stay at this hotel- you can find it under Utah). We arrived at Park City on Halloween night, Riley did a little trick or treating, and we enjoyed a very comfortable night stay. The next day, we headed towards Moab.

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Bumble Bee sighting at the Hyatt Escala Lodge

Park City to Moab is about 4 hours. We were moving significantly slower than the rest of traffic due to hauling the trailer. I was surprised to see that the speed limit on Interstate 70 was 80 mph. There was no way Bear and the truck could move that fast, so I stayed behind Clayton with my hazard lights on.

We found a free campsite on BLM from freecampsite.net (info below). The campsite was about 6 miles outside of the entrance to Arches National Park and 25 miles from Canyonlands. When we pulled in, it was sunset and absolutely breathtaking (note the photos above). I looked around in awe and felt like I never wanted to leave. Moab was incredible.

The next day, we had a late start. Riley played around the campsite digging up dirt and pretending he was Lightning Mcqueen from Cars. The scenery looked very similar to the movie so his imagination was on point! After taking our time in the morning, we decided to head to Arches, purchase a National Park annual pass and drive through the park to plan out what hike we would do the next day.

We drove through the entire park and stopped at the parking lot for The Windows. The Windows, also known as the “Spectacles” are two arches that stand side by side within a large rock. There is a paved trail that takes visitors to The Windows and under one arch. We found a primitive trail that went around The Windows and took a few photos there. Everyone else followed the paved path so I recommend finding this trail if you want to enjoy the sights without the crowds. The trail is very short, just follow the cairns!

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Petrified Sand Dunes
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From the primitive trail, a view of The Windows with the sun in the back
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Clayton and Riley running towards The Windows

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The next morning, we woke up around dawn and quickly headed back to Arches for a sunrise hike to Delicate Arch. The hike is only 3.2 miles RT and rated as “moderate”. We found the hike to be fairly easy, my recommendation is to wear appropriate shoes such as hiking boots. I can imagine people have slipped on the slick rock slab on the way down.

There is no view of the arch until the end of the hike so it was incredible when we finally reached it. It was truly an amazing sight to see, even Riley was excited. The entire hike was super windy and once we reached the arch, it felt as if the wind could have picked me and Riley up! Clayton convinced us to fight the wind and walk under the arch for photos. I held onto Riley with a tight grip while the wind pushed us around.

We could have sat there all day staring at the arch and the canyons around it, but the strong winds were difficult to deal with. I was either holding onto Riley from fear of him flying away or shielding myself from the sand that was whipping across my face. Sand really hurts when it comes at you!

We quickly took photos then headed back towards the trail. As we approached the parking lot, we encountered large groups of people hiking in. Personally, I prefer hiking in peace and quiet so if you’re like me, I’d start this hike early in the morning around sunrise. You’ll avoid the crowds and get the beauty of golden hour for photos!

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Riley running ahead! He was excited for this hike. 
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Father-Son Duo!
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Follow the Cairns!
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Hikes are more fun when you’re jumping off rocks!
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Hiding from the wind before photos under the arch
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Clayton under the arch. 
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Behind the arch the views were spectacular!
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Delicate Arch shadow
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In love with golden hour!
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Heading back on the trail. 

After our hike, we headed to the Visitor Center where we watched the orientation film, read about the formation of the arches, and purchased a sticker for the trailer. Whenever visiting a National Park, always stop by the Visitor Center! There you’ll find information on the history and geology of the area. It also helps us share information with Riley to ensure that he’s getting educated as we explore the parks.

Overall, Arches was unbelievably beautiful and amazing. I found myself consistently awestruck by how amazing our planet is. After spending two days at Arches, we decided the following day that Canyonlands would be our next stop. We had 3 days of warm sunshine and on the 4th day, the rain welcomed us at Canyonlands. Little did we know that our survival skills would be put to the test… stay tuned for Moab Part Two!

Important info from this post:

  • We found our free campsite on freecampsite.net The campsite is on public land (BLM) so there are no amenities, not even a vault toilet. Turn on Willow Springs Road right off of US 191. There are several pull outs on the dirt road. 2 week maximum stay. About 6 miles from Arches and 25 miles from Canyonlands. 
  • The entrance fee to Arches is $25 per vehicle. National Park annual passes are $80. Most parks have an entrance fee of about $20-30 so it pays for itself fairly quickly. 
  • The hike to Delicate Arch is 3.2 miles RT. Difficulty is rated as “moderate”. I recommend going early in the morning to get the golden light of sunrise for photos and to beat the crowds! I’ve also read it can get very hot in the summer. 
  • Pets are not allowed on the trails or in the Visitor Center. Luckily, the weather was cool when we visited so Jack was safe in the car. If visiting in the warmer months, I recommend making accommodations for your pet. Per the NPS website, the following kennels offer boarding services:

    Karen’s Canine Campground
    2781 S. Roberts
    (435) 259-7922

    Moab Veterinary Clinic
    4575 Spanish Valley Drive
    (435) 259-8710

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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