Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Arches National Park, Utah

I had never been to Moab, Utah, but I had heard so much about it!  I have wanted to visit for some time, but it seems life is always getting in the way.  This year life was definitely not going to make it easy.  Moab is located in Southern Utah and is usually hot, really hot in the summer time.  We were going to go in the spring, but then my son got a lead in a play in a community theatre, and we felt that was more important than our comfort.  So we decided to go to Moab the last week in July, THE LAST WEEK IN JULY!  Can there be a hotter time?  We felt it was important, and I sincerely prayed that we would not die from heatstroke or dehydration!

Things to know before you go...

1.  There is a campground right smack dab in the middle of the park, there is no other accommodations in the park.  This campground is called Devil's Garden, and you CAN reserve a spot, it is usually filled up MONTHS in advance.  It is NOT first come first serve.  If you want to stay here, reserve on the first day you can, which I believe is 180 days in advance.  The greater the number at the campground the nicer the spot, is the general rule of thumb.  We were in spot 30, the bathrooms are right by spot 35/which was the campground host's spot.

2.  Bring water containers!  If you go camping, there is potable water, but not a faucet at every campsite, you have to get your water and carry it back to your site.  We used a 5 gallon drink cooler to keep water on hand for our family.  You also need water to bring with you hiking.  The best type of water containers are the ones that are hands free.  You should drink 1 GALLON of water a day, dehydration can happen fast.  For our little kids we got water bottles with carabiners, they were light weight bag type bottles, only about 16 oz each.  As adults we carried two 2quart water coolers with us to refill the smaller containers when they were empty.

3. Learn how to say hello with a smile or better yet in French, German, Spanish...just to be nice, since you will be one of the only Americans on the trails, it would be good to represent us well.  (Seriously the only people I saw by the Double Arch who spoke "English" were Australians!)  Funny story, my 4 year old son and I were sitting next to a man who looked at my son and said, "I'm Italian."  My son very seriously said, "I like pizza."  The man laughed, I thought it was so funny.

4.  If you do not stay in Devil's Garden there is BLM campgrounds around Moab, they are first come first serve.

Hiking with kids

Delicate Arch

We decided to hike up to the Delicate Arch our first day, it was the longest most strenuous hike we were planning on going on, and I thought, might as well get it done first.  It was hard.  I hiked up and down with my baby on my back.  There were some cliff areas that my 4 year old did not seem to respect, and I really thought he was going to run over the edge.  There seemed to be a bit of confusion from other hikers, who tried to go a different way up to the arch, best advice, follow the rock piles that lead the way, if you follow the person in front of you, they may lead you astray!
This arch is on the way up to Delicate arch,
there is a cliff behind the camera!
My husband and oldest,
I didn't dare let any other child do this!

Our second day at Arches we did most of the easy trails. Which combined make for a pretty long day.  We only made the mistake of not taking enough water with us once!

Landscape Arch

Our first hike of our second day was Landscape arch which seemed like an easy trail, but on the trail there are 2 more "easy" trails that lead to Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel arch, which if combined with Landscape Arch turns into a moderate hike with kids.  Pine Tree arch was in the shade and lots of fun for kids!  Something also to note, the parking spots for Landscape Arch seem busiest between 11am and 1pm, try to go before 11am or after 3pm for best chance of getting a parking spot.

Tunnel arch

Pine tree arch, one of our favorites for kids!
Landscape Arch

The Windows

North Window

South Window

Turret Arch
Turret Arch

The windows also has turret arch close by.  These are all pretty easy hikes for the kids, if they are climbers it can be a little scary for parents, just make sure you keep a close eye on your kids!  Even if you hike to all 3 arches, it is not very long, so while I would still bring water, just one water bottle for each person should be sufficient.

Double Arch

This by far was my favorite arch.  Easy to hike to, really cool and impressive, and shaded!  What is not to like?  This is just around the bend from the Windows.  At first I thought we could just walk from the Windows to the Double Arch, but we decided to drive and sit in an air conditioned car for a little bit between arches.  Because it was HOT!  There was no place to fill up water bottles, so cooling off before this minor hike was not a bad idea.

Balancing Rock

Balancing Rock has a ledge that you can stand on and make it look like you are either holding the rock, or pushing it over.  

This is a fun hike and is a loop, I didn't realize this until hiking up to the rock and noticing that the path continued all the way around it.

Sand Dune Arch

This is a fun hike for the kids, it goes through some narrow paths and it is sand the entire hike.  

If you have kids like mine, this can make for some very dramatic children!

Broken Arch

Front of arch, if coming from Sand Dune Arch

Back of arch, heading to campground
When I first heard about Broken Arch, I really thought it was an Arch that was broken, but I guess pieces break off of it, it is not actually broken.  You can hike from the Sand Dune Arch, through the broken arch and then keep walking to the Devil's Garden Campground, which is what I did with my two oldest kids.  My husband took the 2 younger kids back to camp, they were exhausted after a long day of hiking!  

Tapestry Arch

On the way back to the campground you pass by the Tapestry Arch, we chose not to hike out to it, but we still got a good view of it from the path, and we saw lots of rabbits!  

Skyline Arch

This arch was right behind our camp site, and we decided to save it for our last hike.  It was a pretty short, nice hike.  

We had so much fun at Arches, it was the Grand Finale to our family vacation.  I noticed that there was a lot of people from other countries who had rented RVs or motorhomes.  From what I gathered a lot of people would fly into California and rent these and travel to different destinations.  I noticed that several places that rent motorhomes also rent bedding and kitchen supplies.  I never thought that renting a motorhome would be worth it, as an American travelling in America, but this seems a very smart way to travel for those coming from across an ocean with limited money and baggage space who want to see many destinations!