Quick warning: What was going to be a post about Arches turned into a long post more about how we are spending our time so far on the trip. If you don’t care about that, just scroll through the pictures, and you’ll get the idea.
After Canyonlands, we drove the ~90 miles out of the park and up to Moab, UT, home of Arches national park. On the way into town, we passed a ton of Jeeps, and eventually realized we’d caught the tail end of Jeep safari, where jeep owners all meet up to off road in the desert around Moab. In desperate need of our first trip shower, we hit up the Slickrock RV and Campground. While it did have availability, nice people, cold (weak) beer, and hot showers, it was also quite tightly packed, so we planned to pack up camp first thing.
Since it was already after lunch, we rode our trusty mountain bikes into town to hit up the grocery store, made lunch, and then cycled out on a great bike path to Arches to check out the Visitor’s Center and see if there was anything worth biking into. It turns out there was not, since the first entry way into the park is a 10-mile climb over thousands of feet, but we got some good advice and made a plan for Monday morning.
First thing Monday, after quickly packing up camp and grabbing coffee, we drove into the park to hit the hike out to Delicate Arch. The parking lot there is currently under construction so we were advised to get there very early. We rolled up just before 7 and made it out to Delicate Arch just after sunrise. This arch is apparently the most photographed arch in the park, making this likely one of the worst photos of the arch on the internet:
After the 1.5 mile hike back to the car and a full parking lot, we drove to the back-end of the park to hike the Devil’s Garden, a ~7.5 mile trail that winds through slickrock to a number of notable arches. The second parking lot was huge, and We pulled out our trusty camping stove to heat up some oatmeal and coffee in the parking lot, because we are badasses like that, and then filled up our camelbacks and headed out to the hike.
The full ~7.2 mile hike was one of our favorites so far, especially the primitive trail back half. We scrambled up and down slickrock and in and out between the rock “fins”. Slickrock is especially fun to climb because it tends to gently slope up and down, making it really easy to climb up and down the rocks. The desert in this area has a cryptobiotic (living) crust, so you aren’t supposed to venture off the trail onto sand. However, slickrock is fair game. Here are some more shots of the arches and the climbing:
After about noon, the number of people on the trail picked up significantly, and when we made it back to the first mile or so of paved path, it got very crowded. The parking lot was full when we left, and the sheer volume of cars dissuaded us from making any further stops at overlooks or viewpoints along the scenic drive.
After leaving the park, we needed to find a place to camp for the night, so we headed to the Colorado River to check out a number of BLM camping sites there. We had the great luck to pull into the second site, despite the “full” sign, and grab the last spot there for the next two evenings. The stop was right on the river, and also right on the bike path.
Since 10 miles of hiking didn’t seem like enough for the day, we rested up a bit for lunch and then decided to ride the 7 miles into town to find an internet café, followed perhaps by a beer and some national championship basketball. Surprisingly, by the time we got there at 4pm, all the coffee shops in town were closed. So, of course, we headed a place we knew would be open, the Moab Brewery, to see if perhaps they had internet or beer. As you might have guessed from the lack of blog posts earlier this week, they only had beer. At least they had a few full strength options in bottles and cans, since they’re limited to 4% ABV for drafts. After a few beers and some basketball, it was a dark ride back to camp, even with our bike lamps, but the only dangers on the segregated path were the giant tumbleweeds that crunched under our tires.
The next day, we did venture back to the park early to check out the famous North and South Windows, but we left before lunch as the park was getting really crowded. There was a great little ~5 mile hike back through a canyon near our campsite that we tackled in the afternoon.