Arches National Park: Because Utah isn’t just Salt Lake City.

After we left Denver, Mike and I made the fatal mistake of thinking we could mosey into Moab, Utah on a Saturday and actually find an affordable place to sleep. In our simple, naive minds, Moab was just a little sleepy town that was conveniently located near Arches National Park, but boy, we were wrong. Every single hotel, campground, and hostel was booked or had such inflated prices that our minds were blown. As such, this led to our first night spent sleeping in the car. Not an amazing start to this adventure, but we made due by waking up before sunrise and rolling into Arches National Park in time to see a breathtaking view of the sun rising over the rocks.

A poor image of what our eyes encountered.
A poor image of what our eyes encountered.

The red rocks were truly a sight to behold. The beauty of this park is that it is open 24/7/365, so you can roll in whenever you want for all sorts of views. I have been told by many that if you can get camping there to do so, because the stars are incredible, but during the day was definitely not too shabby.

One of the first rock formations on the drive.
One of the first rock formations on the drive.

When you enter the park, the road is pretty straightforward, which was really convenient. It is straight for about an hour, ending in a loop to take you out of the park, with a shit ton of trailheads, roundabouts, and viewpoints scattered along the way. You can stop at as many or as few of the viewpoints as you please, but I must warn you: However long you think you want to take in this park, double it. Since Arches is just littered with trails of varying degrees of effort and mileage, and there are more sights to see that one can see in a week, it is easier to just take as much time as your trip will allow and do all that you can. Mike and I only allotted one full day here, and we already made a promise to ourselves to come back. This was one of the first points in our trip we were awed, wowed, stunned by the scenes that laid before us. I know I sound like a giddy schoolgirl rather than a travel blogger, but some things are hard to put into words.

One of the park's famed, well, Arches.
One of the park’s famed, well, Arches.

I would recommend to visitors to stay in or as close to in the park as possible, seeing as Moab does not have a whole lot to offer except for various trip tours through the Arches. If you are into Jeep tours, helicopter tours, or the like, you won’t be hard-pressed to find one that fits your wants and needs. The only time we spent in Moab was at the brewery for a nice post-hiking beer, but alcohol drinkers beware: Utah has a tricky little law that requires all of the beer on tap (drafts) to be watered down to 3%, so get your beer bottled. Their beer was decent, but no reason to spend money on that alcohol content. You have been warned.

Moral of the story is: Visit Arches National Park if you are a fan of beautiful scenery that isn’t quite like anything else in the world, for a very cheap cost. You will not be disappointed. And for a bonus, if you go in before the park rangers get there and it is a busy day, they won’t collect your fee on the way out. The sheer volume of people they have to deal with every day makes it near impossible to collect your paltry ten dollars when you are leaving the park. They are also a little lax with checking the parking lots viewpoints, so if you are really pressed for a place to sleep, just cover yourself up with a blanket in the back seat. With luck, the rangers will think you are just luggage and that you are actually just hiking overnight, which is not an uncommon occurrence at Arches. Enjoy!

Gratuitous park images.
Gratuitous park images. (I apologize for the crappy lighting)
For scale, Mike is 6'4".
For scale, Mike is 6’4″.
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