Since returning from Moab, Utah nearly a month ago, several friends have expressed interest in making a trip of their own. It is for their benefit, and perhaps for yours, that I am now sharing some of my favorite parts of this beautiful place.
We chose to fly in and out of Denver due to the fact that Charlie would be staying on and working in Colorado for a few days at the the end of our trip. Grand Junction, CO or Salt Lake City, UT would have been closer starting points, but also more expensive. The six hour drive from Denver to Moab was easy and beautiful and we were able to spend the final two nights of our vacation in Glenwood Springs, CO on our way back to the airport.
Where We Stayed
The Aarchway Inn is located between the entrance of Arches National Park (2 miles in one direction) and the town of Moab (two miles in the other). Anyone who has more than two kids knows how difficult it can be to find hotel rooms that fit the whole family. We picked this place because it had large rooms with three queen beds. It also had a nice pool for our afternoon hiking breaks from the hot desert sun and an included hot breakfast (which my teenage son put to very good use).
Oh, and a view.
Let me preface this by saying that we don’t do fancy meals on vacation (because we want to be able to afford to fly home). We also try to avoid chain restaurants (because we want to try things that we couldn’t get anywhere else). My favorite meal of the trip was a Navajo Taco from The Moab Diner. It was served on incredible Navajo fry bread and topped with homemade green chile sauce.
Sorry. No time for a picture with the scarfing and the chewing.
Not what you think.
Matrimony Spring is located just outside of town with a continuous flow of clean water from snow that melted in the nearby La Sal Mountains. It took 200 years for the water to travel through the rock into our awaiting mouths. We stopped by twice to fill our bottles with the clean, cold water. Both times we encountered locals filling their jugs to bring back to their homes. We were all fairly convinced it had magic powers.
We spent a day rappelling and rafting with Red River Adventures. The guides were competent and patient and friendly. I found it so interesting to hear how they live their lives. It is a subculture all its own – one that my teenagers found to be very cool.
Aside from the National Park Visitor Center Gift Shops, we don’t really shop while on vacation. This time we made one exception. Our rafting guide told us that the local Rock Shop was worth a visit. We had driven by it several times before hearing this and had dismissed it as a tourist trap. We had some extra time on our final evening in Moab and decided to give it a chance. I really wish I would have taken pictures of this place. On the surface, it looked like a mess – unorganized tables containing piles of rocks, some glass display cases, tons of hand scribbled signs warning you DO NOT TOUCH, and old newspaper clippings hanging on the wall.
Looking closer at the labels on some of the bones in the display cases and actually reading some of the newspaper clippings made this place a lot more interesting. The owner of this little shop discovered the first raptor bones ever found in Utah, a whole stinking dinosaur, and the Moab Man.
I am always awed by someone with such single minded relentlessness and devotion to a “calling,” even if that “calling” is rocks. This guy is a legend. He’s also kind of grumpy, but I’m pretty sure he was 816 years old, so I am willing to cut him a break on that one. He talked to us briefly before heading to the back room. I would have loved to sit down with him and hear his stories. I did ask him how he knows what he is looking for and he mumbled something to the effect that he is looking for everything. The evidence of that truth was sprawled out in every direction of that shop.
There were magnificent views everywhere we went on this trip – down Rte. 128 coming into Moab along the Colorado River; in Canyonlands National Park; and from Dead Horse Point State Park (where Thelma and Louise took their final leap). But if I were to pick spots to sit with a cold Stella and a good book, those places would all be inside Arches National Park.
The Windows Section
Delicate Arch at Sunset
This is my favorite part. I will never be Cheryl Strayed hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, but spending a few hours on a hiking trail every day of our trip is blissful, especially when I get to have a good meal and shower and sleep in a bed at night.
Devil’s Garden Primitive Trail
This is a loop trail if you choose to go all the way around (7 miles). Most people hike to Landscape Arch a mile in and then turn back, thus making the beginning and end of this hike fairly crowded. We chose to go as far as Double O Arch and then turn back making our roundtrip just over five miles. The Arches we saw along the way were worthwhile but the best part of this hike was the hike itself. After passing Landscape Arch and leaving the tour bus crowd behind, the trail climbs up several rock paths until you find yourself at the top of the “fins.”
I wish the pictures did it justice, but it feels like you are walking atop the Earth’s spine.
Corona Arch Trail
This trail is actually outside Arches National Park, thus decreasing its traffic. We went on a weekday and in the evening and had the trail mostly to ourselves, just missing a couple of scout troops. It’s a fairly easy hike (3 miles RT) with a few spots to climb.
We spent a lot of time here.
I hope that all who wish to will get a chance to visit Utah someday. Call me if you want some help planning your trip.
Okay. I’ll stop talking about vacation now.
Wait. One more thing. On our last night in Moab, we took a walk across the Colorado River on the pedestrian bridge. I asked the children to pose for yet another photo and this is the IMMEDIATE response to my request.
The two older dropped simultaneously to the ground and Cheerio plopped her foot right on her brother’s back. The glory of that place will someday fade from my mind. But I really hope to remember this.
Okay. Now I’m done.