Growing up my parents had a map of the United States hanging up at eye-level for my little brother and me. The map was thumb-tacked on their very 80’s, flower wallpapered wall, and every time we visited a state we’d rush home to color it in, marking our time in a new place.
Growing up, we traveled in planes, trains, and automobiles (and boats and ferries, too), but throughout all of our road trips and jaunts around the country, we never stepped foot in Utah, despite the fact that it’s one of three states that actually touches New Mexico. Luckily, that all changed this summer during our cross-country road trip. Our first stop in Utah was Arches National Park, and it was everything I wanted it to be, and more!
I already told you about our exciting adventure in Arches’ Fiery Furnace, but today I’m sharing a little bit more from Arches, because visiting that park was really one of the coolest things I’ve seen, especially in America.
Arches National Park gets its name from the more than 2,000 naturally formed, literal sandstone arches around the area. The cool thing is that you can see these arches from your car, so if it’s a million degrees outside (likely, because the sun loves the Utah dessert), you can still enjoy the beauty of Arches while basking in air conditioning.
On the flip side, if you want to hike and see these ginormous formations up close and personal, you can get out there, put some dirt on your clothes, and tread on your shoes. Just make sure you pack enough water and some sunscreen, because of the aforementioned ridiculous heat.
We did a little of both scenic views around the park. There’s the easy “Window’s Drive” where you can see the cool “window-like” arches right from your car. My parents drove around a little bit while we got out and hiked right up
next to under them.
I was blown away with how gigantic some of the arches are. From the car, or even the beginning of the trail, they didn’t look that big, but when you stand right there next to them….WOW! It puts things into perspective.
After an intense hike the day before, my legs were pretty darn wobbly, so I appreciated the easy trail around the Windows Trail. The walk was easy enough for our two toddlers to do it, which was great. We probably could’ve taken our stroller, too, but we left it in the car.
Speaking of kids, one hike we really wanted to do, but didn’t (because nap time won in the end), was the Sand Dune Trail. There’s a great little spot for playing in the sand, which we all know is something little ones love to do, plus you get to see more cool arches.
The one hike we REALLY wanted to do, but didn’t because we were tired from the Fiery Furnace (and because we didn’t plan our outing early enough in the day) was the “License Plate Arch,” or officially named the Delicate Arch. It’s nicknamed after the arch seen on all of Utah’s license plates, but to get to it you have to walk uphill three miles round trip, and there’s zero shade available. In short: I wimped out.
The following picture is a zoomed in view of the Delicate Arch. And if you look to the very left of the arch you can see all the people hiking to see it—they look like little ants!
Luckily, there are two different viewpoints where you can see the arch, so we checked out both of them. There’s a “short,” lower view of the arch, and an “upper” view. We did the short hikes, and took the girls with us, but we honestly didn’t anticipate such a steep hike for the upper view. It’s supposedly only a half mile round trip, but that ¼ mile up was comprised of pretty much nothing but steps uphill.
Again, the upper view for the Delicate Arch is totally doable, but make sure you’re prepared. I wished we put the little one in the Ergo, and I really wished I put some tennis shoes on Julia. Oh, and sunscreen. Don’t forget the sunscreen! We’re clearly hiking newbies, but you live and you learn!
There are more than a dozen trails around Arches, ranging from easy to difficult, but we just stuck to doing the Windows, Fiery, and the Delicate Arches viewpoints. Several of the other ones you can see from the car, but I do wish we spend another few days in Moab. We rented a house from VRBO, which was so nice to go back to every night.
If/when we go back again I’d love to plan it out a little more—maybe do some rafting or just getting out and hiking earlier in the morning when it’s cooler outside.
If you haven’t been to Arches National Park, I highly suggest visiting. I know Zion is one of the more popular national parks in Utah (and it’s great, too; stay tuned for a post about our time there), but Arches definitely needs to be on your list.
We loved driving around and spotting different arches among the rock formations, and I really liked hiking and seeing something astonishing at the end of the trail. The colors of the different layers of rock were so vibrant and raw; it made me realize what a huge world we live in, and just how much things can change, sometimes in a blink of an eye…or over the course of millions of years.
Have you been to Arches National Park before? I’d love to know what trails you hiked, and what you liked about it!