librarian + adventurer


Arches National Park

Located 10 minutes outside Moab, Arches National Park is easily accessible and has something for everyone. From the casual tourist to the experienced backcountry adventurer, Arches has it all.

Logan and I spent almost 12 hours in the park, taking a break from 11:30-3:00 to find some beer to cool off. We had gotten into Moab at 11:45 Friday night and had a 5:30 wake up call Saturday morning, so we were worn out. From Delicate Arch we headed to Devils Garden campground to see if, by chance, they had any sites left. They didn't. We started making our way back to the entrance, stopping at several arches along the way. 

Skyline Arch

Hiking boots + sunshine + new places + my love = one happy girl

Skyline Arch used to be half this size. The rocks at the bottom of the picture fell out and doubled the opening! It's so cool that Arches NP is like a living organism, changing and growing and shrinking all the time.

Sand Dune Arch

Broken Arch

At this point, it was 11:00 and we were hot and tired and hungry and had another campsite to investigate, so we went back into Moab. We headed straight to Sand Flats Recreation Area, a campsite I have heard good things about. I was expecting them to be full, but was pleasantly surprised when they were wide open! We had our pick of the whole campground and chose an edge spot overlook the La Sal Mountains. We pitched our tent, paid our $15, and headed to the Moab Brewery. We had skipped a real breakfast that morning in favor of getting on the trail earlier, so we were starved. Beer samples and chips and salsa and some delicious wraps and then gelato and we were ready to get back to the park.

We weren't in any sort of rush, so we took our time and stopped at every single overlook and walked to as many arches as we could (we weren't about to walk more than a mile, though) and judged all the tourists who were blatantly ignoring the rules and doing things like walking off trail and climbing on the arches. (Don't worry, they got yelled at by more vocal visitors).

In the middle of driving to Sand Flats, we noticed that a wildfire had started on the other side of the La Sal Mountains - we were totally safe, but it was crazy!

In the middle you can see a sliver of light, that's Baby Arch! Another example of how the park is always evolving

Balanced Rock

North Window

Person for scale.

South Window

Turret Arch

Technically (and obviously) this is both North and South Windows, but it's viewed from Turret. 

Double Arch

If you don't have much time in the park, I would suggest making Double Arch one of your stops. It's a short walk to the arches, and you can climb up underneath of them. They're incredibly photogenic and provide dramatic backdrops for your pictures. 

Double Arch is a pothole arch, which is basically what it sounds like - a giant pothole formed on top of the rocks, collapsed, and formed these arches.

Me. Waiting impatiently for these other people to get off my posing place that they rudely cut in front of me to climb on and then proceeded to waste 15 minutes on top of while I was clearly trying to get a picture. They didn't get the hint, even when I climbed up there with them. 

After Double Arch, we drove back to Devils Garden to hike to Landscape Arch. At this point, it was 5:30, we had been up for 12 hours and spent the majority of that in the sun. We were hot and we were tired. So we napped for about 30 minutes in Logan's car and debated whether or not we should even do the hike. We eventually woke up and decided we could make it the 1.8 miles it would take to get there and back, but we were dying a little bit. 

Tunnel Arch

Pine Tree Arch

Landscape Arch

Pro tip: don't try and photograph landscape within an hour and a half of sunset. This is what happens. 

Real talk time. We had our cooler packed with our typical camp food stuff - beer and chicken dogs and breakfast foods. We were so hot, we decided to go to the general store and get wipes and literally anything else they had in the hygiene section. We felt nasty and we needed to do anything we could to feel better. After cleaning off, we couldn't even dream of going back to the campsite and sweating in front of the stove, so we decided to go to the Sunset Grill - Charlie Steen's old house for the fanciest dinner I've had in a long time, some local wine, and an epic sunset. It was still so hot when we got to our tent, close to 90 degrees and 10:30 at night. We slept with the rain fly tied back and in as few clothes as possible.

Logan managed to fall asleep, but I was up tossing and turning and listening to the owl next to our tent hoot out a love song or something. At 11:30 I couldn't take it anymore. I woke Logan up and we started looking for open hotels (which are really hard to find on a Saturday night in Moab, by the way). It was 87 degrees at midnight and I was sweaty and grumpy and just wanted some air conditioning. We found a room at a hotel next to Sunset Grill (thanks to Logan remembering a vacancy sign) and I called and got him to save us a king bed. We tore down camp at midnight (the second time I've made Logan wake up and completely move in the middle of the night) and headed back into town to sleep in an air conditioned room. 

Pro tip: IT'S OKAY TO CHANGE YOUR PLANS. Don't be so married to them that you can't let yourself be flexible. If you wake up in the middle of the night (or can't fall asleep at all), do something about it. Or, just know, don't camp in the desert in June.