The second anniversary drawing so near in April dislodged all my furtive plans to surprise Neha. “We should make plans” said Neha after patiently waiting till April arrived and after me having not discussed any plans. “Lets go to Arches National Park. Been wanting to visit the park for some time now” I said. She seemed sceptical of “desert like” terrains as we had last done Death Valley National Park. She was hoping we’ll get to see some other terrain or city. I showed her pictures of Canyonlands NP, Dead Horse Point State Park and other things we could do in the “Moab” area along with Arches NP and luckily she seemed convinced or rather excited.
In the interest of keeping the blog short, I am going to split this into two blog posts. The second part will explore Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park.
We landed in Salt Lake City on the night of 23rd April, rented a car and were to drive to Moab, UT. We started this journey with a first stop at Atlantic Cafe Market near downtown Salt Lake City. The food here was delectable and we hoped to find food joints like this in Moab too.
Drove around 4 hrs and reached Moab at around 2:30 AM. Moab, a small town located is a unique geographical location that adjoins Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, LaSal mountain range and the Dead Horse Point SP. After a nice breakfast at Cafe Love Muffin, we headed to the Arches NP. The visitor’s center plays an info video that parts a lot of knowledge about the various forces and parameters that played their part in shaping the park.
These are pictures of the various attractions of the park we saw on day one:
We did a lot of short hikes and explored a big portion of the park. The one big attraction we left out this day was the fabled Delicate Arch hike which we did the next day.
Some quick facts about Arches NP:
- Has the highest concentration of naturally formed arches on the planet. More than 2000 in number.
- Another unique aspect is the biological soil crust which is “living soil” that takes hundreds of years to form. A biological soil crust is composed of algae, lichens, and cyanobacteria (one of Earth’s earliest life forms) and provides a secure foundation for the desert plants.
- Landscape arch spans 306 feet which is bigger than a football field (base to base)
- The park sits on a huge salt bed whose chemistry with water is the cause for various formations.
One another aspect of the Arches NP is the night sky. We drove into the park one night after 10 PM and stopped at Park Avenue which as away from the city lights to gaze the night sky. It is a beautiful sight with the stars twinkling down the sky and the foreground of the canyon walls supplements to the opinion about the park being other wordly. If you visit Moab, DO NOT miss watching the night sky from the park. Check for some beautiful pictures here.
More about and around Moab:
Its a charming little town surrounded by canyons and snow capped mountains. The place is home for a tonne of outdoor activities. If you are into hiking, camping, biking, 4×4 jeeping, rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing, dirt biking… you name it and Moab is probably one of the best places for that activity. And spring is the best time to visit this part of the map. In the few days we stayed in Moab, we discovered some great restaurats Love Muffin, Eklecticafe, Mi Ranchito Mexicana, Sing Ha Thai etc.
Moab is home to some of the best scenic drives in Utah. These three are of particular interest that we drove and explored:
Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway (U-128)
This scenice byway ran next to the Colorado river and is home to ranches, wineries, lots of camp grounds and scenic stops. We went all the way till Dewey bridge and returned back.
Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway (U-279)
This scenic route showed us hieroglyphs by ancient Indians that inhabited the area. Interestingly, some dinosaur fossil prints and plenty of rock climbing spots.
La Sal Mountain loop road
This is a not-to-miss thing to do if you are in Moab. This takes around 2 to 3 hours and it takes you from the dry desert-canyon terrains to the snowy La Sal mountains from where you can find some stunning views.
The weekend we visited Moab was the weekend of the popular car-show. The little town swelled by about 10000 people who came for the show. We found families having a lazy weekend, settling on their chairs and trucks on the sidewalks looking at the cars that were being paraded along the Main Street. We checked out the car show too and that was a lot of fun.
When we returned back to the bay area on Monday the 28th of April, my mind was involuntarily making plans of visiting UT again and this time to see Bryce, Glen & Monument Valley NP.