Arches National Park, one of many National Parks we visited in Utah, was also the furthest and most challenging drive of our two week road trip. That was partly due to our decision to take Scenic Byway 12 from Bryce Canyon to Moab, home of Arches National Park. The drive proved to be more of an adventure than I planned on, and to say that I was nervous while driving on the extremely steep and winding road would be the understatement of the century. Petrified would probably be a more accurate description.
Utah has some of the most diverse landscape I’ve ever seen, and once I was able to look up again, I was amazed at all the different types of terain we drove through.
The Road to Arches National Park
Although the road to Arches felt long, we made stops at both Capital Reef National Park, and Goblin Valley State Park, which helped to break up the very curvy drive. Temperatures were well over 100 degrees, so our visits were on the quick side.
Capital Reef National Park
Capital Reef National Park is one of Utah’s Mighty 5, however it is the most underrated of all the parks. Many people I spoke with consider it their favorite of all the parks, they love having the place all to themselves.
The Capital Reef Visitor Center is located along HWY Route 24, and after a quick look around we drove a short distance down the road to see the Freemont Indian Pictographs, which date back to between 700 AD – 1300 AD. Parking and a convient walking path make viewing the pictographs a very family friendly activity.
Goblin Valley State Park
Recommended by a friend we made stopping at Goblin Valley State Park a priority, however in hindsight I realized I should have timed this visit for either sunrise or sunset. Because our visit took place mid-day, temperatures were extremely high, there was no shade and the harsh lighting meant a very abbreviated visit.
It was sot hot, my boys wouldn’t leave the car’s airconditioning, but I was here and didn’t want to pass up an oppotunity to walk among the hoodoos or “goblins”, which are the main attraction at Goblin State Park.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park is home to the largest concentration of natural arches in the world. The most famous of which is the Delicate Arch, which also happens to be on the Utah State Liscense Plate.
I admit I underestimated the time it would take to drive to Arches so our time in the park was limited. We would just be getting a taste of what this park had to offer. For example this Utah liscense plate was the only way I would be seeing the famous Delicate Arch.
As always our first stop was the visitor center. We watched a movie about the Park’s unique landscape, viewed interactive exhibits, consulted with the rangers, and of course vistied the gift shop!
Knowing that our group wasn’t up for moderate or difficult hiking in the extreme heat we chose to view the park via two easier walks, and the many pull ins along the Park’s main road.
The Windows – Easy
This wasn’t our first stop within the park, but it was my favorite. A quick and relatively flat walk, and we were able to explore The Windows and see amazing views without too much effort. We all loved this walk, and sitting under the shade of the giant Window Arches helped us get a feel for just how massive these formations really are. This is perfect walk if you have limited time in the Park.
Balanced Rock – Easy
Balanced Rock, as you can see isn’t an arch, but it certainly is impressive. It’s hard to get a sense of scale when looking at photos, but if you look closely you’ll see tiny people among the rocks. The Rock can easily be seen from the parking area or there is a short walk around as well.
The Courthouse View Point
The Gossip Ladies – View Point
A casual pizza restaurant with unique and delicious toppings and great service, Zax’s wasn’t the only meal we ate while in Moab, but it was our favorite! Don’t just take my word for it, Zax’s came highly recommended by just about every person I spoke to when discussing our trip to Moab, and now I’ve joined the club! I wish my photos were better, but I was too busy eating to take many pictures…
Tips & Advice:
- There wasn’t much shade and it was 104 during our visit. Bring water! Yes, I know I should be wearing a hat.
- Be aware and heed all signs. People do die here, often people who don’t heed signs.
- Keep in mind that many of the more famous hikes are moderate to difficult for example Delicate Arch is considered difficult.
- Many of the park’s sights can be seen from the car, and or convenient lookout points.
- Automobile Lines to get into Arches National Park can be long, so plan to arrive early if possible. You’ll beat the lines and the heat!
- Once you leave the Visitor Center there are no facilities of any kind inside the park.
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