Arches National Park, Moab UTAH
December 31, 2003
The trip to Arches National Park with our visitors at the beginning of December was a hit. December is not the optimal time to visit the park, but we basically had the park to ourselves. Travelling by car from Denver we stopped for the night at Grand Junction. Moab is approximately 2 hours from Grand Junction. The best, and most scenic drive into Moab is to take the Utah 128 from I-70. It begins in very uninteresting country, but eventually winds into a spectacular valley, following the Colorado River as it meanders through the desert. The combination of river, and red snow covered Mesa's is spectacular. The 128 is the road that goes passed the turn off to the Fisher towers, a favorite mountain climbing spot, which I think was where the opening scenes of "Vertical Limit" was set.
We entered Moab which has a wide range of Motels and Hotels. Our favorite is The Virginian. Check the hotel out here This Motel charges extremely reasonable off season rates. Off season is from December 1 through March. The Virginian has rooms with full kitchenettes which is very useful for the traveller on the cheap. Moab has a wide variety of motels so there is a lot of accomodation for a broad range of pocket books.
After a quick sandwhich in our rooms we decided to head for Arches. This National Park is only a few minutes drive outside Moab. They are widening the access road and updating the facilities. Before going into the park it is advisable to first stop by the Visitors Center. We would do this each morning before entering the park to find out road conditions and weather forecast for the day. The Visitor's Center has an informative exhibit explaining the geology and rock formation as well as a well stocked gift shop filled with postcards, fridge magnets and interesting books and brochures. That day (Saturday) the weather forecast was not looking promising for Sunday so we decided to forego the afternoon of park orientation, and head out immediately to see Delicate Arch. For more information on the park check it out here
Arches is a park that can be seen almost exclusively from the comfort of one's car. While for some this may seem ideal it does for me defeat the whole purpose of the visit. To really see Arches you have to get out and walk around in it. The rock formations are breath taking, and the air is clear. The hike to Delicate Arch is a little over 2 km one way. It is slightly strenuous since the elevation gain is somewhat challenging. But the destination is well worth it. The trail is well marked and for the most part is over rock, and sandstone. The arrival at Delicate Arch is unexpected. The path is cut into the rock, and does get icy and slippery in winter. Kevin and I managed to cajole (i.e lie) to our visitors about how close the Arch was. But we wanted them all to get there. We had the site to ourselves and started a wonderful time taking pictures. December isn't the best time for sunset at Delicate Arch. Kevin and his father in law stayed on to take pictures, while the rest of us headed for home.
I think my visitors did not have exactly the right clothing. Difficult when you come from a hot African summer to a cold American winter. That night we ate at the Moab Microbrewery. Moab has a collection of different restaurants. But beware, during the off season many close up to reopen during the spring.
The next day we headed back into ARches to explore the Windows and the Double Arch area. Check out my pictures on my photo album.