Stephen and I took our time getting out of Zion before making our way to Moab.
I instantly fell in love with the town. It’s bigger than Springdale (outside Zion) and Tusayan (outside Grand Canyon), which meant better prices, more shopping, and utter cuteness. I also loved that the Colorado River cut right through it. I seem to have developed a slight river obsession. The idea that a peaceful river flow can create the immensity of the Grand Canyon is inspiring. Talk about persistence.
Arches National Park
Arches is perfect for 1 full day, which is how much time we spent there. Our first stop was the iconic Delicate Arch. This hike was billed as strenuous, but it was nothing compared to what we faced in Zion. There was a bit of crawling up slick rocks, but at no point did I feel unsafe. I think it helped that we never really got too high. We made it back to our car still early in the day, and I decided to brave the other strenuous hike at Arches: Double O.
The first mile gets you out to Landscape Arch and is very easy. From there, however, it gets dicey. There is a lot of slick rock and scrambling. The arch at the end wasn’t all that impressive. (I heard a little girl saying, “Dad, I’m underwhelmed, very underwhelmed,” haha!), but this was one of the hikes that made me feel impressed with myself. I took on the slick rock and I scrambled with the best of them. Between Double O and Delicate, we hiked nearly 8 miles. By then, the heat was getting unbearable. Stephen and I took a reprieve until sunset when we returned to check out what’s known as the Window Section.
Here we enjoyed Double Arch, North Window, South Window, and Turret Arch. We also made friends with another couple. The husband happened to be a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel! How bout that? We said goodbye to Arches (and our new friends) at sundown after having hiked more than 10 miles that day.
Canyonlands National Park
Instead of waking at the crack of dawn like most other days, we opted to be a little lazy on our Canyonlands day. I think the total miles plus the heat were taking a toll on both Stephen and me. Our gung-ho attitude had faded into “meh.” Still, we managed to eventually make the 30 minute drive to Canyonlands. This part is huge and is made up of three large sections: Island in the Sky, The Maze, and Needles. We stuck with Island in the Sky being that it was closest to Moab. It seems like the hikes here are either very short and easy or very long and difficult without much middle ground.
Our first interesting stop was Upheaval Dome.
Was it formed by a meteor or the salt from a former ocean? Scientists are divided. I vote meteor just because it’s more scandalous. Visitors have the option of hiking all the way around the dome, but we did the short out and back to the overlook instead.
From there, we stopped to look at the River. Both the Colorado and Green rivers are visible from the park. We didn’t get to see the spot where they converge, but apparently that’s a kickass whitewater spot. Finally, we made another short trek to Mesa Arch.
This spot is really known for its beauty at morning. After spending a day at Arches, it wasn’t quite as special. Perhaps that was just my exhaustion speaking. We spent only a few hours at Canyonlands and hiked only 2 miles. I think we would have enjoyed it more if we hadn’t been at the end of our trip. I mean, how can these canyons compare to the Grand Canyon? I thought it was beautiful, but I wish I would have had more energy.
Our day spent at Canyonlands also happened to be Stephen’s 30 birthday! We couldn’t let the day pass without a little celebrating. We got ourselves a little cleaned up, and headed out to a swanky resort 14 miles up the Colorado River. Even though the food was just okay, the atmosphere was perfect. We got to stare out at the river, red cliffs, and green grass for the entire meal. Before heading into town for some froyo, we checked out what was dubbed the “John Wayne Museum” in the basement of the restaurant. It was really more like a gallery with pictures and movie posters from everything filmed in the area. It was a fun end to the day for my John Wayne fan nonetheless.
We had planned to spend another day in Moab, but both of us were just too tired to make it worth it. After going over every single option we could think of, Stephen and I decided to travel halfway home.
Next stop: Albuquerque, New Mexico.