Moab and Arches National Park
The drive into Moab, Utah and Arches National Park features an abrupt and spectacular change of scenery from plains to colorful cliffs and canyons. Moab, itself, is rustic and eclectic, not quite the typical tourist trap. It sports several restaurants, bars, lodging, stores featuring local artists, and places to rent or buy a bike, ATV, jeep, or kayak. Outdoor patios were full to capacity on each of our drives through town, all of them with misters and fans to keep patrons cool.
Our RV park was on the western end of Moab and we made several trips through town to visit Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, as well as a couple of spectacular drives outside of the park to capture the sunset and local scenery. Our stay was a short one, only four evenings and three days to enjoy our surroundings.
Moab’s Fall busy season begins September 1 and extends through the end of October. Prior to this, it’s just too hot to enjoy the area. Even early September is very warm, so early mornings and early evenings are best for hiking, biking, and photography.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park is known for its 2,000 natural arches, but there’s so much more: huge rocks balanced upon tall, thin, inadequate looking foundations, towering spires and pinnacles, and long expanses of cliffs and fins. You begin at the Visitor Center, where there’s an introductory video and rangers to answer your questions. A ranger pointed us to a site near the end of a gravel side road, in the Klondike area, where he said it’s less traveled and we’d be able to see burrowing owls. Our cameras were ready, but unfortunately, the owls were nowhere to be seen. Our consolation prize was a lone prairie dog that didn’t want to pose for a photograph.
Tower Arch Hiking Trail
A ‘moderately difficult’ trail at the end of this gravel road called my name, so we donned our backpacks with plenty of water and a snack, and set out. This trail was unlike anything we’ve ever encountered before: climbing areas of slick rock, other places climbing from rock to rock, with nothing but cairns (stacked, flat rocks) to mark our way. The views were fabulous, and it was so worthwhile, but what a workout! Going up was challenging; coming back down – a bit scary, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Ranger guided tours are available for certain hikes. We’ve been told that we missed an opportunity by skipping the three-hour ‘Fiery Furnace’ hike. But given its description of ‘moderately strenuous, scrambling up and through narrow cracks and along narrow ledges above drop-offs,’ and the 90° weather, I think we were wiser to wait until another visit in an April/October timeframe.
For more information, www.visitutah.com/arches