Somewhere between terrain that looks like Mars and the Lion King’s Elephant Graveyard you will find Moab, Utah… probably one of the most unique looking areas in all of the United States.
Austin’s sister and her boyfriend were visiting us for the past week and we decided to wrap up the week of skiing with a trip to Southern Utah to visit Moab. Austin and I have been only once right after we first moved so we were excited to make the trip again. I was in Philly for work so I joined the rest of the crew on Friday night so I enjoyed a solid two days.
While you may have heard of Moab before, most people are unaware that it’s the closest town to two of Utah’s National Parks: Arches and Canyonlands. Canyonlands is comprised of three separate districts that are divided by rivers: Island in the Sky, Needles & The Maze. Many people overlook Canyonlands and spend all of their time in Arches National Park and they are definitely missing out!
Also contrary to popular belief, southern Utah can get cold. Early Saturday morning in Arches National Park was cloudy and cold (teens-twenties) but the afternoon brought sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures. All of the pictures below of Arches National Park were on the same day and taken by me.
Want to visit yourself and only have the weekend? Here is what I would recommend:
Friday – Drive from Salt Lake City to Moab
Saturday – Spend the day in Arches National Park.
- Drive from the Visitor’s Center all of the way to Devil’s Garden stopping at the viewpoints that interest you.
- The hike to the Delicate Arch is 3.0 miles RT and a must if you are in to hiking. 95% of the hike is not shaded and if you are visiting when it is warm outside prepare for this hike to be incredibly hot with extra water, sunscreen, and snacks. The Delicate Arch is extra beautiful at sunset but be careful to bring a flashlight if you are going in the evening.
- After the Delicate Arch head back towards the Visitor’s Center and take the turnoff towards the Garden of Eden and take the short trail to the North and South Window if time permits.
- Extra activities depending on fitness/interest level:
- Fiery Furnace – This requires a permit or a ranger-guided tour. Advance arrangements are required. Refer to the nps.gov website.
- Devil’s Garden Hike – This hike is over 7 miles long and goes on a primitive trail where you can see many beautiful arches such as Landscape Arch and Double O Arch. 95% of the hike is not shaded and if you are visiting when it is warm outside prepare for this hike to be incredibly hot with extra water, sunscreen, and snacks.
Sunday – Spend the day in Canyonlands “Island in the Sky” District.
- Although popular, Mesa Arch is beautiful at sunrise. If you are an early riser, go ahead and head to Mesa Arch first thing allowing for plenty of time to park and hike the 0.5 miles to the Arch. This is a popular time and the limited parking can be taken. If you would rather avoid the rush and the early wake up call, consider doing this at sunset instead.. still a golden hour of photography so the colors are less harsh and it will be a lot less crowded.
- Continue beyond the Mesa Arch down to the White Rim Overlook. Although the actual 0.8 mile each way walk is not incredibly impressive, the end view is amazing.
- Want a view in the other direction? Go to Grand View Overlook. This is 1.0 each way and it is along the edge of the island. Very cool.
- If you want to skip the Grand View Overlook, check out the Green River Overlook which has a short path to the viewpoint and it’s in the same direction as the Grand View Overlook, although it’s not quite the same view.
- Extra activities depending on time/vehicle:
- Drive Shafer Trail Road. This windy narrow road is not for those afraid of heights or without a high clearance vehicle. If you love off-roading, this is a must although make sure you allow for plenty of time if you are taking this road to Moab and verify conditions with the Visitor’s Center prior to your departure.
- Head back to Salt Lake City
Currently reading: “Happy Pocket Full of Money” by David Cameron Gikandi and “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne
Currently listening to: Starboy by The Weeknd