Driving into Moab, Utah was so exciting. We drove right past signs for Canyonlands and Arches National Park. We were able to see the cars entering Arches and decided to check into our campground before exploring the park. This gave us an opportunity to see the park after the sun went down and check out the beautiful night sky.
Beautiful Moab, Utah.
I was honestly a little worried about staying in a tent during our trip. I like camping a lot, but with only having a backpack, I was nervous we would be missing items while camping. However, as soon as we arrived in ACT Campground, my worries disappeared. We rented the canvas tent on Airbnb, and it was perfect.
Our Perfect Airbnb!
After checking in, we decided to head to the brewery in town for a much-needed dinner. While eating, we decided we couldn’t wait until the morning to see our first park; so we headed to Arches and observed the night sky. It was stunning! While a little chilly, it was worth the cold. The stars were beautiful, and it was SO dark! It was hard to make out the formations and having never been to the park before, and with no map, it was difficult deciding where to drive. We ended up finding Balanced Rock to take some starry-night photos. The hike was paved and short, so we were able to navigate with only our head lamps and limited knowledge on the park. After trying to capture some photos (somewhat successfully with the new iPhone 11 pro) we went back to our tent to catch up on sleep.
Balanced Rock Under The Stars
These Red Light Headlamps Made All The Difference!
The next day was one of my favorites from the trip. We decided to start our day with the more difficult hike (as we did the majority of the trip) and this meant hiking to Delicate Arch as our first destination. It was great to see the park in the daylight after missing so many formations in the dark the night before. We were also able to stop at the visitor center and watch one of our favorite videos (we actually do love these videos). With this being our first major park of the trip, we were due for a new America The Beautiful Pass. We’ve had difficulty trying to purchase in person before, so we were kind of nervous. But, we pulled right up to the gate and it was easy-peasy! After the visitor center video and grabbing some fun vacation memoirs, we were off to our hike.
Admittedly, our first look at the route to Delicate Arch was slightly intimidating. Sadly, we were both feeling a little down from a cold we were both trying to fight off. So, we took it slow and made our way up what seemed to be a very large slope. However, the hike up isn’t too difficult, and it was fun to venture into the “freestyle” path with very few markings. The temperature was perfect, though it was very windy. So windy in fact, that once we arrived at the arch, it was difficult to picture walking out to it. Plus, you have to walk around this narrow turn to see the arch. Wind + small walkway + long way down, made us a little nervous.
The Slope Up To The Arch
Walking The Edge!
But in the end, the first glance at Delicate Arch proved to us how breathtaking it was. The arch itself is amazing, plus the view of the park from this spot is perfect. We highly recommend this hike if you are visiting this park, as it is a staple viewpoint of Arches National Park.
Now, back to the wind. Here we are viewing the arch from a distance, while others are walking under the arch to get some really great pictures. Well me, being me, had some serious case of FOMO, so I convinced Colin to come out with me even though the wind threatened to knock us down! It was freaky, but we stayed low and walked slowl and close to the rocks, and far from the edge. Given my past record of falling, tripping and stumbling, Colin was a little nervous for me to fall since I had the aided help of the 45 MPH wind.
We Made It!
However, we made it and grabbed an awesome photo of us under the arch. We sat up here for awhile enjoying the view and talking to some fellow hikers who needed their photographs taken as well. It was an amazing start to our hiking adventures, and we were hesitant to leave. However, we knew we had a few more hikes that we wanted to explore before our next park.
Once we made our way back down, we wanted to check out the view of Delicate Arch from the viewing point right off the road. We typically feel the view up close is always better than the viewing point, and in this case, it was 2000% true. If you have the ability, we highly recommend completing the hike as opposed to the viewpoint.
Delicate Arch Viewpoint
Salt Valley Overlook
After the conquering of the most difficult hike on our schedule, we made our way through the park to experience some easier, though equally beautiful hikes. After seeing Balanced Rock at nighttime, we wanted to explore the area in the daylight to see what we had missed. We stopped briefly to walk the short trail and take a few photographs. This hike is a trail around the rock, so it is great to be up close and personal with the rocks.
We made our way to The Windows hiking area, which is a beautiful drive. On the way to The Windows you will see a few different arches and window formations. The hiking area by The Windows also includes Turret Arch. We recommend going over to Turret Arch as well, because there is a great view of both window formations side by side. Plus, Turret Arch is not as popular, but equally beautiful.
One of the amazing things about Arches National Park is the different stage each arch is in when you visit. The idea of rocks in the shape of an arch can seem underwhelming, but each formation is unique and stunning in its own way. We found this to especially be true with Landscape Arch (Devils Garden). The hike was easy, however there was still an exceptional amount of wind which made mini sand tornadoes. The end of the hike results in an opening with a beautiful arch which appears so fragile you almost expect it to fall right infront of you. In fact, before more in depth research, it’d be easy to assume that this was Delicate Arch, based on its’ structure. The sun was in a perfect spot for us and we were able to stay and enjoy the spot for a few moments at the end of the trail, while snapping some photographs for other hikers as well.
Rocks. Tall rocks, wide rocks, red rocks. Brown, narrow, arched, aged, new, weathered, shaped ... beautiful rocks. Our adventure to Arches was memorable and beyond beautiful. We were very lucky with the weather and size of crowds. However, we recommend checking for updates on the park visitor numbers, as there can sometimes be a long wait to get in. In fact, the week after we visited, there was a three hour wait period to get in due to the large volume of visitors. The good news about a possible long wait, is an opportunity to visit nearby attractions such as Canyonlands National Park!