So if you’ve been keeping up with me on Instagram, you would know that I’m currently hammocking my way through the Western United States. One of my first, and still favorite stops was Moab, Utah.
Moab is a pretty small town, but it is a hugely popular international destination primarily because of Arches National Park. While Arches is pretty popular, it gets nowhere near as much attention as places like Yellowstone or Yosemite. Like I could actually find parking near the trails at Arches. I first went to the park around 8 PM, and it was pretty dead. The weather had just finally gone below triple digits and the sun was about to set, making for a ridiculously beautiful backdrop.
Upon entering the park, whether by car, bike, or on foot, you spiral up a hill while massive cliffs of red rocks tower over you. Many of them look like they were carved or man-made, it is almost impossible to describe what you are seeing. It had been a hot minute since I was able to say that I witnessed something I’ve never seen before in my travels, but I think I had my mouth gaping in awe the entire time I was there.
I parked at the first place I could possibly pull in, Park Avenue Trailhead, and spent entirely too long there. It was just incredible being surrounded by massive natural masterpieces that just remind you about how f***in’ majestic this planet is.
Keep driving down the park’s main road and the sights are just endless. You will constantly see more of the signature red rock formations, including some interestingly shaped ones. You will see anything from massive walls and cliffs to huge rocks balancing on not so huge other rocks. The park has much more to offer in terms of scenery, as the desert shrubbery, petrified sand dunes, petroglyphs, distant mountains, and other natural beauties are everywhere to be found.
Being the tourist I am, I hiked their most popular trail that led to Delicate Arch. This is the arch that is synonymous with Arches National Park and is the design on the Utah license plate. It is also where a lot of tourists of all shapes and sizes go. The trail is pretty short, and it took me about 30-40 minutes to complete the 1.5 mile hike. It says 1.5 miles but I am pretty sure it is a lot longer and there is a big round incline that you have to climb. This is where you’ll see everyone lose their former ambition and go-getter attitude, and you can watch their willpower crumble before your own eyes.
It really isn’t too difficult of a hike, but even taking a single step in the desert heat can make for an awful time. It reaches well over 100 degrees in Moab during the summer. I hiked it starting around 8 AM, and was sweating by 8:01. There is almost no shade on the trail. Bring at least two or three bottles of water. The park recommends two liters so listen to them, not me. For the amount of effort it takes, the hike is definitely worth it. Most of the other trails at Arches are strenuous to the point of very dangerous. Get Delicate Arch out of the way first, and then maybe think about hitting up Devil’s Garden or Fiery Furnace.
Another good thing about Arches is that you do not even have to get out of the car to be wonderstruck by everything surrounding you. I recommend you do get out of your car, but hey, it can be hot and you still see all the cool things. It is a pretty long road to get out of the park, and I got lost a couple times one day. I don’t know how because there is literally like one road, but it took me almost 40 minutes to go down the eight or so mile long road. Everyone’s stopping to take pictures and it gets congested in scenic areas, so plan accordingly. Two hours will get you a glimpse of what Arches National Park is all about, but on my extremely time-limited road trip, I chose to go to Arches twice rather than visit the also nearby Canyonlands or any of the other parks that Southern Utah has to offer.
One last thing, the stars. Do not miss out on going to Arches around 10 PM or later and just staring at the stars. The park will be pretty empty so you will have the silence and the stars almost all to yourself. Going around 7 or 8 PM will also give you enough daylight to actually see the park before relaxing and watching the stars. If I could afford a several thousand dollar camera to take good sky pics, I would probably just fill this article with sky pics.
To sum it up, go to Arches National Park. It is one of the few things I was willing to push through the desert heat for, and that is saying something.
Check out more pics from my trip to Arches National Park on my Instagram!
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