Arches National Park, UT (part 1)

April 21, Friday

Well, I’ve been in Moab, UT for a week. Probably about time to drive into Arches, huh.

At least I’m doing better than Kelly and Marshall, who have been in the area for nearly a month and haven’t been yet, other than our walk in near camp. We pile into Marshall’s Jeep around 8:30.

Arches National Park is located just north of Moab on 191. Entrance fees are $25 per carload, unless you happen to have a pass (the Interagency Pass is $80 per year for us pre-retirement folk, and worth it if you’re going to be hitting several national parks). We’ve arrived early enough in the day that the line isn’t too long.

Shortly after the fee station is the visitor center, where we learn that there are over 2,000 arches in the park. In this case, an arch is defined as having at least a three-foot opening in any direction. I saw two on the Tower Arch hike, only 1,998 more to go!

Past the visitor center, the road climbs above 191 in a series of curves with tall red cliffs looming overhead, it’s one of the more dramatic park entrances I’ve seen.

Arches has one main road, Arches Scenic Drive, with stops and smaller detours along the way. The tentative plan is to drive the road and see some of the easier stuff today, then come back early in the morning on a future day to do some serious hiking.

Our first stop is Balanced Rock, which is visible from the road but a short hike will take you all the way around it. The large rock on top really does seem to balance on its pedestal. Pictures just can’t accurately convey the size of this thing.

Near balanced rock we see two arches visible from the road, down the Windows Road which we don’t visit today. 1,996…

The second stop is Sand Dune Arch, which isn’t visible from the road, but again it’s less than a mile to get there and back. I really enjoyed this one, you walk through a sand-filled canyon to get there, expect to have to empty your shoes afterward.

Nearby is Broken Arch, named for the crack running through the middle. Despite the name, this must be one of the more stable arches, because the trail goes right through it and people are allowed to climb around. 1,994…

Aaand more me and Kelly being silly again

Arches has one campground and it’s located in the back of the park, Devil’s Garden Campground. It’s closed this season for repaving. We’ll be hiking Devil’s Garden out to Landscape arch and several others next time.

On the way out, we stop at a couple overlooks, some named and some not. For those traveling through the area quickly these are worth a visit. As someone who has been camping in this kind of scenery for weeks, it’s not as necessary. I get views not so different from this at camp.

Lunch is at at Quesadilla Mobilla in Moab. I get the Enchanted Chicken which has re-fried beans in it, delicious.

Sunset turns the mountains north of camp purple in the evening. Just another day in paradise.

April 22 and 23

It’s been my goal to take one walk a day near camp if I’m not going somewhere to hike. This doesn’t always work out, but I try. On Saturday the three of us take a short ride farther down the road to explore. Our extended backyard is butted by Arches on one side, and the Copper Hills to the other. And yes the hills have copper in them, at least enough to appear greenish in places. I keep trying and failing to get a picture that captures the green well.

There’s also a lot of red and pale colored rocks too, and that’s easier to photograph. It’s especially neat in places where these extremes come together.

There are even formations to be found out here. For those who read my last post on how the element of surprise can heighten an experience, this is a good example. This rock isn’t as impressive as some found in Arches, but we weren’t expecting it to be here, which makes it more special.

Equally fun to behold are nature’s compositions. I really liked this combination of dead tree and live plants with cliffs in the background.

On Sunday we walk out to the ‘bread loafs’ visible to the east of camp, carved sandstone mounds that may one day turn into the kind of fins that arches seem to come from. They rise above the surrounding valley, the highest point visible that direction. But we need to head down before climbing back up to them.

The weather has changed. Today is cooler and windy with overcast skies, there’s a slight chance of rain tonight. The next week looks to be continuing that trend.

The one time the sun came out today

Overall though, things are warming up. Some of the cactus are putting out buds, these red ones are particularly vibrant, although are still a ways from peak.

We make it to the loafs just as the setting sun warns us we should be turning around. These past two days haven’t been particularly thrilling, but I really enjoy exploring my camping areas, it’s one of the little pleasures of the RV lifestyle.

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Upriverdavid on May 1, 2017 at 11:33 pm

    Swell photos..Thanks!

    • Becky on May 2, 2017 at 12:25 pm

      You’re welcome!

  2. Barbara Harper on April 26, 2017 at 9:38 am

    What !! I’m disappointed. No swinging by rope or bungee cord from the arches?
    Barbara Harper recently posted..There Is A Lot To See In AlbuquerqueMy Profile

    • Becky on April 29, 2017 at 7:32 pm

      Nope, gee must have missed that. 😉

  3. Barbara Harper on April 26, 2017 at 9:18 am

    I enjoyed your post on “letting it happen.” One of my favorite photos of 4 years of full time rving happened in Arches. There was a large crowd at one of the arches and I sat down to just enjoy the whole area and think about how lucky I was to be seeing so many amazing things and time flew by. Visitors all left just as the sun was setting behind the arch that gave the most amazing glow and I was able to capture it on my camera. It was “one of those moments.” Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Becky on April 29, 2017 at 7:32 pm

      Sounds perfect Barbara, and yes that’s exactly what I’m talking about. 🙂

  4. Dawn on April 26, 2017 at 6:04 am

    Beautiful! Thank you for giving us a peak!

    • Becky on April 29, 2017 at 7:30 pm

      You’re welcome Dawn!

  5. Rich L on April 25, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    Oh, forgot to mention… the main road in Arches was used for many of the road scenes in Thelma and Louise, and Dead Horse Point was the site of the spectacular ending of that movie. Double Arch was used in the opening scenes of one of the Indiana Jones movies. There are too many movie locations in and around Moab to mention. The Moab visitor’s center might have brochures on the topic.

    Another tidbit, going northbound on 191, somewhere about even with the northernmost end of Arches, is the site of one of the “detention” camp used by the U.S. following the attack on Pearl Harbor to contain Japanese and Japanese-American people. This camp was used for the more “troublesome” of the detainees. You can’t really see much there, even if you find the site, but if this interests you, one of the larger camps, Topaz, was situated a few miles outside Delta, Utah. You can visit a dedicated museum in Delta, where you can get directions to the actual site. The museum and the site itself are very sobering.

    • Becky on April 25, 2017 at 6:30 pm

      Thanks for sharing Rich.

  6. Rich L on April 25, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    Glad you’re enjoying Utah, and specifically, my favorite place in the world, Arches NP. Try nearby Canyonlands NP, drive to the very end and take an easy hike to the very end, where you can get an almost 360 degree view of the spectacular formations below you. Then, depending on where you’re headed from Moab, consider a stop at Goblin Valley State Park. It’s small, but it’s a real hoot, and I’ll bet you’ve never seen anything like it.

    • Becky on April 25, 2017 at 6:29 pm

      Canyonlands is on the list! Others have said Goblin Valley is something special, if I don’t make it to these places this visit I’ll try again next time.

      • Fred Trout on May 1, 2017 at 3:22 pm

        2nd that Goblin Valley recommendation. I liked it much better than arches np since it is much more up close and personal. They let you walk anyplace you want, as close as you like.

        Good boon docking nearby as well.

  7. RDG on April 25, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    Where are the Delicate Arch photos, THE icon of the place? We got the Courthouse Door (also seen in Thelma and Louise) but not the Three Gossips, almost across the street.

    • Becky on April 25, 2017 at 6:28 pm

      Meh, it’s overdone, I decided not to get pictures. 😉

      Nah, just haven’t been yet. Will be visiting that in part 2…

  8. Doug on April 25, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Be sure to make it to Dead Horse Canyon. Also read Desert Solitare by Edward Abbey. My wife and I made a visit to this area last year and love it. Ended up heading back to California on “the loneliest road in America”-Highway 50 as the highway to Las Vegas was washed out. Great ride and got a chance to see the great railroad museum at Ely, Nevada. We didn’t have a trailer then so plan to retrace our steps sometime soon.

    • Becky on April 25, 2017 at 6:26 pm

      Might not make it there this trip Doug, but I like leaving an area still wanting more – makes it more special to come back! That book has been on my list…

      I worked in Fernley, NV one fall and was real close to that road, neat area. Hope you get to visit again soon!

  9. Jeff on April 25, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Looks like you were able to avoid much of the congestion of the Jeep Safari groups. Gotta love the solitude and beauty of the sculptured red sandstone.

    • Becky on April 25, 2017 at 6:24 pm

      I’m pretty far outside of Moab and pretty far down this bumpy dirt road. Makes all the difference.

  10. Jim on April 25, 2017 at 8:03 am

    Great post, as usual. That flowering cactus is gorgeous.
    Jim recently posted..Endgame in San Felipe…My Profile

    • Becky on April 25, 2017 at 6:21 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Jim. 🙂

  11. Y Knowles on April 25, 2017 at 7:00 am

    It is SO beautiful there. Someday I’ll get to go visit!!! Thanks for letting me tag along and live vicariously through you!

    • Becky on April 25, 2017 at 6:20 pm

      You’re welcome! Yes, this should definitely be on your list.

  12. Ron on April 25, 2017 at 6:47 am

    As always great photos and descriptions.

    • Becky on April 25, 2017 at 6:19 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Ron!

  13. RGupnorth on April 25, 2017 at 5:01 am

    Make sure you have a burger at Milts while you are in Moab.

    • Becky on April 25, 2017 at 6:18 pm

      I’m not a hamburger person RG, but I’ll look into it.