I can’t believe how long ago I actually started this post (August) vs. when it’s actually getting published, how embarrassing. But our trip to Arches National Park was pretty amazing, so I still wanted to share it.
When we moved to Arizona two years ago, one of the things that we liked about Phoenix was how central it was and how many cool places you could get with just a few hours of driving. So I made a list of places I wanted to visit while we lived in AZ, and Arches was at the top.
The problem is, it’s not really near anything else. It’s about 8 hours NE of Phoenix, so it’s not really on your way to Salt Lake City, or the Grand Canyon or anything like that, and there isn’t really much around it, except a few other national parks, so it’s kind of where you are going, if you are going there.
We were driving home from Montana in August, and it was already going to be like, 20 hours, so I guess I thought “What’s another 5?”, and decided to make Arches part of the trip.
We got to SLC the first night, and planned on going hiking but were thwarted by a biking event, so we just went drinking instead. The next morning we were up early, had breakfast, and drove the rest of the way to Moab, which is where Arches is located.
About half way there the landscape started getting really rugged and gorgeous, with jutting rocks and beautiful vistas around every corner, so it kind of felt like we were in the park already, and it went by really fast. We got a campsite at a really cute little campground right outside the front gate of the park.
We got settled in and then went to the park about 11 a.m.. If you are going to Arches, especially in August, make sure you have a full tank of gas, and bring LOTS of water and snacks. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but the park is enormous, and you drive around it and stop at any of the Arches or areas you want to see.
There is nowhere to get gas (obviously) so if you had to stop, and drive back out to Moab to fill up, it would take probably an hour. There are also only a few places in the park where you can fill up your water bottle, and they are few and far between.
It’s a lot of hiking and walking around to see everything, so having water on hand is essential, especially when it’s 110 degrees, like it was when we were there. Also, sunscreen.
There are lots of arches and things to see inside the park, and you get a map when you drive through the gate so you can see which ones you want to visit. There are some that are better to see in the morning, and some better at night, depending on the lighting and where the sun is located, and there are some that are really famous and pretty busy all the time.
My favourite things to see inside the park were Double Arch and Turret Arch. Balanced Rock, Devils Garden and the Windows are very popular too. We stopped at the parking lot to go to the Windows, and there were a lot of people there, so we took a right at the trail and ended up at Turret Arch, where there were hardly any people, and I thought it was one of the best ones we saw.
Delicate arch (the very last picture) is the image you often see of Arches, and there were tons of people up there to get a picture of it with the sunset behind it, but it’s kind of a long walk, and after being in the sun almost the whole day, and being in the park for about 8 hours at that point, I was not into it, so we just went to a view point to see it, and then went back to the campgrounds.
It was still so hot out that we put our bathing suits on, bought a six pack of beer and some frozen lemonades from the little convenience store, and played in the pool while the sun set.
We didn’t have any camping gear with us, but we bought sleeping bags at Target (which I’m hoping to use again in the next couple of weeks!) and made a bed in the back of the truck. We ate bag salads on paper plates for supper, watched a movie on my laptop and then fell asleep under the stars.
It was kind of the best day ever.
Sleeping in the truck always reminds me of our time in Australia where we spent two months sleeping in the back of our Subaru, or my birthday last year where we spent the weekend in San Diego. Just being able to jump in the car and go somewhere without stressing about logistics and planning everything out is honestly one of my favourite things to do.
We did get woken up by a wicked lightening storm at about 3 a.m., but even that was kind of cool.
If you are going to Arches, I would suggest going early in the morning to hit some of the “sunrise” arches, then going back to your hotel or campsite for a few hours during the hottest part of the day to eat, relax and get out of the sun, and then going back to the park later in the afternoon to see a few more things and catch the sunset.
I’m so glad we got to cross Arches off our list, it’s honestly stunning, I kept wishing we had Derek’s motorcycle with us because cruising those roads is probably the reason bikes were invented. As we start to plan where we are moving to next (more on that soon!) we’re trying to do as much as possible before we go. This is hopefully still going to happen, but it might have to wait until April, once next semester is over.