I’ll be honest, I have a tendency to be a little dramatic at times but this is not one of those. The grandeur and beauty of Arches National park can simply not be described, and that is not an exaggeration.
I am a huge fan of National Parks, I think it is my inner Leslie Knope plus the general happiness I feel when outdoors. So when Barton and I decided to road trip down to Moab for the weekend I was more than happy to bust out my mom’s tent from the 80’s and spend a weekend camping.
The drive from Salt Lake City to Moab is about 3.5 hours, so a easy trip to leave work on Friday and get down south by sunset. We booked a camp site at Slick Rock Campground based off a friend’s recommendation and it was a great place to stay. The site was right off Main St. in downtown Moab complete with access to a pool AND hot tub (if we we had been feeling that brave), plus wifi and pretty dang clean bathrooms. After grabbing a beer and some food at Moab Brewery we made our way back to our tent to get a good night’s sleep before embarking on our hike the next morning.
The next morning we grabbed some awesome breakfast at Love Muffin Cafe in downtown Moab and got in the car line to enter Arches National Park. Entry into the park is $10.00 but the National Parks service has moved into the 21st century and is now accepts credit cards, cha ching.
We drove straight to the Delicate Arch because we knew it was going to get even busier later in the day. And boy were we correct. Getting a personless photo of the Arch took a good 30 mins but was very much worth the wait. The only way to really understand how huge it is, is to put a person next to it.
For this trip we chose hiking as our means for exploring, but Moab is also know for the best mountain biking trails in the US. The national park is pretty well marked, making it easy to find a variety of easy to hard hikes. After seeing the Delicate Arch, Barton and I decided that we wanted to get off the beaten path and tackle the longest trail in the park. So we drove out a couple miles further to hike a trail called the Primitive loop which had several arches along the way.
We packed our lunches, filled up our backpacks and reapplied sunscreen for our largest trek of the day. Let me take a second to talk about gear, because anyone who has recently moved to Utah can relate to how crucial having the proper gear is. This is no Blue Ridge Mountain hike in which your Chacos and swig out of your Nalgene will do for the day, this is the freakin’ desert. I had scored a pair of Hi-Tec hiking boots on super sale and was using this trip to break them in, maybe not the best idea. Barton had just got a pair of Vasque trail running shoes that he wore for the adventure. We both had plenty of water on our backs in Cotopaxi and Gregory backpacks, which might have been the most essential part of our trip.
Both really cool companies, Cotopaxi, shines a humanitarian light on selling gear, in that each purchase goes directly to fund sustainable poverty relief. They also have a killer instagram feed if you are looking to feast your eyes on some inspirational travel photos. Gregory, has really honed in on the fit of your backpack, making packs specifically fitted for women and men. And in hot pink! Holla!
So we got mid way through our hike on the Primitive Trail and stopped for lunch. The craziest part of that trail was that to follow it you ended up doing a lot of scrambling up onto ridges to find the other side of the path. So one minute we would be following a pretty well marked trail and the next we would be scurrying up multiple rock faces to see if we could find any cairns on the other side. It wasn’t until the very last couple of miles of the trail that Barton ran out of water and we ran out of trail markers. Of course I was thinking about how we would ration the last Clif bar and maybe get lucky and find where the Transformers are actually hidden. But after a brief moment of panic we encountered a couple that had just come from the correct direction and lead us back on to the path.
We hobbled out of the park around 4:30 pm to shower and go to dinner. Wanting to be in a scenic location for sunset we drove out the the Castle creek winery to do a wine tasting and watch the rock change colors as the sun set. Trying to experience the most of Moab as we could in a short weekend we went back into downtown to grab some Mexican food, nothing justifies margaritas and tacos like hiking 10 plus miles. By this time my legs where about to cramp up and my blisters from breaking in my boots were telling me it was time to crawl back into our tent.
After calling it a night we got up early the next morning to grab some brunch at the Jailhouse Cafe and fit in one more quick hike before heading back to Salt Lake City. If you are looking for a hike outside of the National park and not too far out of the way Negro Bill’s Canyon is a great 3.5ish mile round trip.
On our return to Salt Lake we were already planning our next trip back. If you haven’t added the National Parks in southern Utah to your bucket list you certainly should. Because you simply can’t describe how fantastic it is.