There are a couple of National Parks within striking distance of Moab – Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Though we definitely were not in tourist mode while staying in Moab, we did get a chance to check out both places.
Arches National Park
Arches was literally right next door and we were able to easily walk into the park during our Moab stay. Our first boondocking spot in Moab was within a mile of the Arches National Park boundary. There was a Jeep trail that went from where we were staying, down to the park boundary, and then along it. It didn’t actually enter the park, but you could easily do so by foot.
Considering the length of time we were literally right next door to Arches, I didn’t spend much time in there. It wasn’t until the second month of our stay that I actually drove into the park. Bad tourist! But I was busy working. There is plenty more of the park I can return to explore.
Tower Arch is in one of the most remote parts of Arches, accessible via either a 4×4 road, or if you don’t mind hiking a bit farther, via an unpaved (non-4×4) road. Tower Arch is someplace you have to really want to see because it’s out there. However, it happened to be fairly close to our first boondocking spot.
One morning, Kelly, Becky and I took off via foot from our campsite and headed into Arches. While there is no official road or trail to get us from where we were staying to Tower Arch, it’s a fairly easy trek.
After about 3.5 miles, which had us climbing on a bunch of the slick rock that Moab is famous for and joining the 4×4 road inside the park, we arrived at Tower Arch. We had the place to ourselves, so we enjoyed the views and explored a bit.
Devils Garden Trail
The longest trail inside Arches National Park is Devils Garden at somewhere in the 7 to 8 mile range. When you only have the time (yeah, yeah, yeah, we had the time, but remember, we were busy working!) to do one trail, why not do the longest one in the park?
Again, it was Kelly, Becky and I heading out one morning to do the Devils Garden loop. We were the first car in the parking lot, which meant we were ahead of the crowds.
With the various side trails to different arches, Devils Garden takes quite a while to complete, especially with the different sections where you had to scramble up and down the slick rock. Throw in plenty of marveling at the sights and we spent a good deal of the day exploring this trail.
Canyonlands National Park
Within an easy drive of Moab is Canyonlands National Park, which was Kelly’s and my destination on my birthday. We decided to take the back route in, via the Schafer Trail Road. This route was recommended to us by a couple of people and it didn’t disappoint! As a matter of fact, it turned out to be the highlight of our brief venture into Canyonlands.
Canyonlands is huge. As in really big. It is divided into four districts, with the Island in the Sky being the most popular as it’s the easiest to access. Island in the Sky also happens to be where Schafer Trail dumped us off.
After the spectacular beauty that was viewed via the Schafer Trail, the section of Canyonlands that we went into was a bit of a let down. To be fair, we didn’t really do much exploring. The drive into the park took a really long time. It was cold and windy. And it was my birthday, so I could do anything I damn well pleased! 😉
We did a little driving in the park, visited the visitors center, and walked up Whale Rock. By the time we had done this much, we were over the crowds and the cold. So we called it quits and headed back home. More to visit another time…