Another month on the books.
A full week of free camping comes to an end.
We made it to Moab, Utah from Mancos, Colorado on August 1.
When we first made it into Utah,
these were the videos I sent to my mom.
I was in awe at the formations along the side of the road.
I had no idea what was in store at Arches National Park.
Before leaving Mancos, Devon and I tag-teamed looking through free-camping apps like Free Roam, Campendium, and The Dyrt. Using these apps, we were able to to decide on a road off the main highway, with an abundance of large spots.
Most were direct-sunlight sites though there were several tent-campers tucked into the sites with trees when you first come down the road.
Extra bonus: This site was only a 15-minute drive into Arches National Park.
Monday, August 2nd, we were eager to get the day started.
At our pace anyway.
A fairly normal morning for us, we got up and made a breakfast scramble with eggs, cheese, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, salsa and sour cream.
We locked up everything outside and left for the park.
We’re grateful for any sites that are in close proximity to National Parks because once you’re in a National Park, you usually have another 1-2 hours of driving time alone!
This was our first time going into a National Park at “normal people hours” in a longgg time…
…we were expecting there to be a line of cars to get in, even if it meant just a 5 minute wait.
I kid you not,
We flashed our Interagency National Park Pass alongside a driver’s license, were handed a park map, and went right in!
It was just after 10 AM when we got into the park.
The plan was to do a variety of small hikes throughout the day.
Here’s a tip.
When you make this plan, especially in Moab, be sure to account for the time of day 🙂
I don’t want to say, “I didn’t think of the fact that it would be mid-afternoon when we’d still be hiking…”
I didn’t think of the fact it would be mid-afternoon when we’d still be hiking.
It doesn’t make sense how I didn’t think about that, I know.
With a Mint Chocolate Chip Clif Bar and a String Cheese in our backpacks and water from the VIsitor Center, we hit the trails.
First hike on the list, Park Avenue Trail:
2 miles roundtrip
Described as: Moderate
Was in fact: Moderate
VIews:I felt like I was walking through the Land Before Time and a dinosaur could walk by any second.
#WeWentThereTip: Bring your a sunscreen, a hat and your water for this one! There are few shaded areas!
Before we get to really seeing the arches… here’s
Next on the hiking list, the Sand Dune Trail:
Slightly scarred by sand and sand dunes altogether, we didn’t know what to expect from this one.
Fortunately for us, it was only 0.2 miles through sand, so there was only time for a few memories to be brought back (See: The Hardest Hike We’ve Ever Done).
Described as: easy
Was in fact: easy! loved it!
Views: I felt like I was walking into another dimension, a world all on its own
Warning: it’s a spot that can get crowded quick!
From there, we continued on to the Broken Arch Trail:
Described as: 0.6 miles, we assumed easy
Was in fact: easy to moderate depending on if you make it a loop
Views: up close and personal with a huge arch!!! Also, Welcome to Mars?
Where we added a little to the trip, and why I say it was moderate, was trying to make it a loop up to Tapestry Arch. Once you get through Broken Arch, it was another 20 minutes before we made it to side trail for Tapestry Arch.
We veered off the trail towards the arch, but after a few moments later agreed we were fine with bypassing.
We could see how far away it still was and quite frankly, just didn’t feel like doing it. Sometimes that happens, folks.
Devil’s Garden Campground, here we come.
Lucky for us, the trailhead at the campground had a restroom and spot to refill our water!
SO if you want to take the approximate 2 mile loop we took, go through Broken Arch and continue the trail to Devil’s Garden Campground…It may seem weird to walk part of the road through the campground, but don’t worry, it’s part of the trail!
With just over a mile left, it was 1pm and the heat was starting to catch up with us.
By time we got home that day, it was just after 3 o’clock.
Though you may think this is where the day ends, I meant what I said about hiking;
time to turn it up a notch.
We had a plentiful dinner, drank lots of water, and headed back to the park for a sunset hike.
Delicate Arch Trail is one of those places you read about and dream of visiting.
Maybe you’ve seen the recently viral video of a woman being asked,
“Are you happy?”
She gives a beautiful answer about having a hip replacement and makng this hike was a Bucket List Item.
That video is from Delicate Arch.
this hike is
3 miles roundtrip.
It’s not for the faint of heart and is best seen at sunrise or sunset.
Described as: Difficult
Was in fact: DIFFICULT
Views: Absolutely one of a kind, through and through, beginning to end.
This trail had everything.
An easy start, a STEEP WALK UP A ROCK SIDE, a pathway that if you fall off the edge you’re breaking a couple bones… (Watching the videos now, I realize how dramatic this sounds, but in the moment…TREACHEROUS)
We started at 7:30 and made up to the arch by 8:15… The sun had set but the colors lingered.
Hmmmm… still quite a few people here…
Just as we had hoped, because the sun had gone down and we were among the few people left at the top.
Initially, we had planned to stay to see the stars but I was honest with Devon, I didn’t like the idea of hiking back down in the dark.
- I’m scared of the dark
- That rock side was SUPER steep and not just a flat surface either, it was a quick ankle-breaker if you made the wrong step
By 8:45, the color was disappearing from the sky, so we started to make our way back down. Like I said, we had come prepared to see the stars, so we did have our headlamps, but I’m telling y’all… me and the darkness don’t get along.
Just about an hour later, we did safely make it back to the car. Of course I watched over my shoulder for a mountain lion the entire way back down, but one thing I noticed ahead of me were the number of headlights that were still going up to Delicate Arch. I couldn’t see his face, but one man spoke to me to help guide me in the right direction going down the rock side. Just by his voice, I knew his 20’s were a distant memory.
About a quarter mile from the car, all daylight was gone.
The stars, however, were getting brighter and brighter.
If you have an iPhone, give Night Mode a try!
My photos aren’t great, but you get the idea!
We got home that night around 10:30.
Total mileage Day 1: 6.35 miles
The whole car ride home we couldn’t stop talking about what a great day we had.
We were tired, but we were eager for the next day.
We were ready to get up early, beat the crowds, and hike again.
Shortly after 6AM the next morning, we were starting the Windows Trail.
Once again, unsurprisingly, we weren’t the only people with this idea.
We were, however, some of the only few to continue on the Primitive Trail and go around to the front side of the North and South Windows as the sun came up.
So while others watched the sun rise from the arch,
I took the picture/video of the sun rising on the arch.
Where was the sunrise, you ask? Here it is in 2 parts!
From there, we continued on to Double Arch!
Taking the Primitive Trail added about a half mile to our already mile hike,
but I’ll be honest, the farthest stretch really felt like the 0.25 mile hike to Double Arch from the parking lot!
It wasn’t even 8 AM, and we already had 2 miles under our belt!
It’s fun to look at, but be sure to go up into it too!
Last but not least on our list to hike was the Devils Garden Trail.
We ended up doing the 2 miles out and back to Landscape Arch, with a couple short trails for viewing points of Pine Arch and Tunnel Arch as well! Of the three, Pine Arch was my favorite. It’s not as exciting when you can’t get up into the arch!
Depending on how you do it, this trail can be a 7.2 mile loop. We had gone back and forth about doing the whole thing, doing particular portions, yadda yadda… but when it came down to it, we only wanted to do a shorter portion. That early morning wake up call was starting to kick in.
Total mileage day 2: 4.08 miles
If we weren’t tired before, we definitely were now.
Don’t think there aren’t things I’m adding to the “When We Come Back”!
#1 on the list is hiking The Fiery Furnace. Unfortunately, it requires a permit we did not have time to obtain, but one day, we will!
I also want to make it clear that though seems like we did a lot in the couple days we were there, there’s still so much more of the National Park to explore!
Canyonlands National Park, you’re up next.
Have you even heard of Canyonlands?
How about a little town called Cisco?
Until next time,