We arrived in Moab, UT on Thursday, April 24th and were surprised what a bustling town it is. When Pat was checking on grocery stores in the area, she only found two and we thought we would find a very small town. It turns out that Moab is a center for various high-adventure activities; four-wheel off-road riding, hiking, dirt biking, rock climbing, and skydiving to name a few.
The area is very popular for these activities and the campground at Arches National Park and nearby Bureau of Land Management (BLM) campgrounds were all full. We were able to get reservations at the Slick Rock RV Park, only a short drive from the park entrance. Throughout the RV park you could see four wheelers, dirt bikes, and other off-road vehicles.
We went over to the National Park Visitor Center to see what guided tours were available and pick up some maps. They had some very interesting video presentations that described how the arches were created in an easy to understand manner. I found the display on the roles of park staff and the tools used in their jobs to be particularly intriguing.
On the drive back to the campground I pointed out where a geocache was at the top of a huge sand dune, and Pat suggested that I go for it. I started climbing the hill and quickly found out how steep and slippery the sand was – Wow! What a climb! Once I made it to the top I found the cache and realized I probably could have taken an easier route if I had taken the time to plan it out.
As always, I checked out all of the potential geocaches in the area and there was a lot of them! I decided to combine my run the next morning with geocaching and I was able to locate four of the five on my list – a good start to the day!
On Friday Scott and his family arrived. We got the girls set up in the trailer then helped Scott and Sandra get their tent set up. In the afternoon we drove into the park to see the sights. Visiting a park like this with three girls, six and nine, was different from the easy pace we normally take. Rather than leisurely strolling around and reading every interpretive sign, as soon as they were out of the car the girls were off to the races. Running down every trail, climbing on every boulder, and trying to climb to the top of every cliff – just one big energy burn, and we loved it!
We stopped at almost every arch and rock formation, the Organ, Courthouse Towers, Tower of Babel, Petrified Dunes. It wasn’t until we got to Balanced Rock that we stopped for awhile. There were some rock climbers doing their thing. I think that everyone found it interesting, but Scott and I were the ones most engrossed in watching them climb.
The next morning was cool and rainy, so our first stop was the Visitor Center. Pat and I had another chance to look things over, but now we were able to share the excitement with our granddaughters. They picked up their Junior Ranger booklets and were starting to check off the requirements before we got back to the car. I hope whoever created the Junior Ranger Program got a promotion, because this is a great way to get children interested in the education aspect of the National Parks.
From the Visitor Center we drove to see the Garden of Eden and hiked the area called the Windows to see the Cove of Caves, Double Arch, North and South Window, and the Turret Arch. When the girls moved from Mississippi to Salt Lake with Sandra’s parents, they made a brief stop here. Katrina remembered seeing the Delicate Arch and seeing it again was her big priority. We all agreed that the hike all the way to that arch might be farther than we wanted to hike, so we were content to drive to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint, hike part way, then view it through binoculars.
We ate a picnic lunch in the amphitheater at the campground. From there we drove to Devil’s Garden. I’m not sure where the name came from, but there are a multitude of arches and different shapes and sizes. Of course, wherever there was a boulder or sand hill, the girls had to climb to the top!
On our last day in the park, the big event was the Ranger-led hike through the Fiery Furnace. If you ever get a chance to visit Arches National Park, I suggest that you make this hike through the Fiery Furnace a priority. Reservations can be made online, and should be made well ahead of time. It was the most excellent thing we did on this trip. This hike takes you through a series of arches and passages where you have to crawl under arches, squeeze through tight passages, and stretch to cross over chasms in the rock. It was exciting for everyone. Of course, no matter how fast the pace may be, the girls were right at the head of the line! On our way out of the park, we stopped at the Visitor Center to have the girls’ Junior Ranger booklets checked and see them sworn in as Junior Rangers for Arches National Park.
Scott and family left early the next morning and Pat and I were able to have a lazy day. We visited the Castle Creek Winery and drove along the road that parallels the Colorado River so I could find a few more geocaches.
Tuesday, April 29th, we headed north for Salt Lake City.