We visited Moab, Utah on our move across country. After a very long drive through the night from Dallas, Texas, across the 4 corners, and through Navajo land (where might I add I got snubbed trying to buy a breakfast burrito from people cooking on the side of the road. – – – They looked delicious, and I’m still sad about this, maybe next time!?). The drive was breathtaking and we explored quite a few different roads, which really means we got lost more than a couple of times. But with great company, you’re never really lost, just expanding your journey!
Lightening the Load
We knew as soon as we arrived in Moab we needed to find a shipping center to get rid of some of the “extra” load we (read: Nick) had packed for our cross country adventure. (I’m talking sports equipment, endless pairs of socks and underwear, and our “colder” weather clothing) Up until this time, we had dealt with our extra baggage just fine but as we had picked up my good friend Jennifer in Texas, we no longer had the space we really needed for frisbees, baseball gloves, and at least two soccer balls. 80lbs and about 60 dollars later, we had lightened our load and were off to explore Arches (Who needs to find a place to stay when you’ve got natural arches to see?!? NOT these guys!).
Arches N.P. is breathtaking, the drive alone is enough to make you melt. Make sure you get there for golden hour! The sun setting against the beautiful red rock is mesmerizing; a sight you are surely never going to forget.
We did some hiking and some Facetime-ing while traveling through Arches National Park for the day. We suggest getting your feet in the dirt and walking around any of the trails! Really, there weren’t any subpar hikes that we noted on our adventure through. Some of our favorites were the Double Arch trail, Landscape Arch trail, and the Delicate Arch Viewpoint trail. None of them were super long, but they were all very unique!
ProTip – If you are planning on staying here overnight make reservations far in advance! Think 3-6 months out. My understanding is that the booking window for each national park is a little different, so check them out ahead of time! If you don’t book in advance but don’t need anything special as far as camping accommodations, there is a TON of BLM land. You can camp on it for free or close to it (think $15) as long as you get there early (first come first served).
As I said previously, golden hour shouldn’t be missed. That being said, neither should the starry night sky! Make sure whether you stay indoors our outdoors that you make a little time once the sun has set for the evening to walk around admiring the milky way.
As far as food and restaurants go, there are a ton on the stretch in Moab. Just remember that there are some different alcohol laws in Utah (like 4% max drafts, having to eat appetizers with your alcohol, and something to do with a curtain when you’re ordering liquor. – If you ask me I never want a mixed drink made out of my visual, but hey I don’t have to order a cocktail, I’ll settle for a beer albeit at 4%)
The drive out to this national park seems endless and is fairly frightening as you’re swinging around cliffs left and right. (Admittedly I am irrationally frightened as a passenger in the car at times. So, this drive probably isn’t that frightening unless maybe you’re in a motor home going at insane speeds) Camping here is EPIC as there is literally NOBODY else in the park, and you have beautiful canyon sweeping views. Maybe it’s empty because everyone is at Arches or maybe it’s because we camped here on a weekday, not sure and frankly not too concerned! Either way, this place is raw and you feel like you’re alone in the elements.
We got to Canyonlands early in the AM and deciding to set up camp for the day and then venture out beginning with an easy hike out to White Rim Overlook. This hike is about 1.8 miles round trip and has breathtaking views. In my opinion it is more beautiful here than the Grand Canyon and there are about a million less people. Here is where Jennifer took our favorite picture of the trip for us. It was rainy and cloudy and the most beautiful morning, I can still remember the calmness of myself sitting here staring into the open Earth.
Syncline Loop Hike
Next we decided to do the most challenging hike ever. Okay maybe not ever, but really we were not prepared for this hike or the boulder scrambling it entailed. Luckily we had enough water and chose to do the hike in a clockwise fashion – going left at the trailhead (climbing down the switchbacks and up the boulder – smartest decision we ever made because I would have never been able to go down the boulders). This hike was absolutely breathtaking, in more ways than one, and was going super well until the rain started rolling in! The number one rule they gave us was that because you are hiking into a canyon, you should be very careful for flash floods and lightning. SUPERB, we were delighted to see the massive black clouds accompanied by thunder as we were about two miles away from the finish line (sarcasm if it doesn’t read that way). After already trucking along on this trail, the three of us had to practically run the rest of the hike. Tears were included as I thought I was going to end up looking like the lightning fried trees to the left and right of me.
As we arrived at the trail head, I had never been so happy to hear the sounds of cars in the parking lot near me; the clouds broke, the rain stopped, and we were welcomed by the most obnoxious sun shining I had ever seen. I literally recommend this hike to everyone going to Canyonlands. It was absolutely beautiful and encompassed so many different landscapes, I want everyone in the world to witness it.
Some Syncline loop tips
- Bring so much water – think 2-3 liters/person
- It’s really hot, dress appropriately (think hats and sunblock)
- Bring snacks and then more snacks
- CHECK THE WEATHER BEFOREHAND
- Don’t attempt if you’re REALLY afraid of heights (a little afraid and you’ll be fine. REALLY afraid and you’re going to have to turn around about 4 miles in and go back up the switchbacks you climbed down)
- If you’re a geologist, this is going to be your holy place
That night, we needed a REAL meal and not a campfire meal so we drove the 45 minutes or so into Moab and fell asleep at a Mexican food restaurant. Kidding (mostly) we stuffed our faces and the poor server probably thought we were starved half to death as we devoured our food in a hurry. We were barely able to keep our eyes open at the table.
Then of course as we began our drive back up to Canyonlands for the night, a storm hit. I’m talking down pouring monsoon, can’t see anything in sight, until your entire visual field is lit up by enough lightning to make you look like Einstein kind of storm. I can still remember tears welling in my eyes as I irrationally begged nick to drive slower and slower (he was only probably going 20mph) as we battled the rain, wind, and fire. Okay, okay no fire but that lightning was for real! Somehow we made it safe and sound, just in time to melt into our sleeping bags and kiss the earth goodnight as it sang us to sleep.
I don’t know if I will ever feel more alive or present than I did that day.