Adventure On The Rocks
As you can probably tell from my previous post about our love for Sedona, we do love rocks and rock formations, so it should be no surprise that we end up in Moab, Utah. It is about 728 miles round trip from our hometown in New Mexico, which made this road trip a fun and scenic drive through New Mexico, Colorado and Utah.
We set out on our journey to Moab in October. I confess that I didn’t research the town too much, and we figured that it wouldn’t be very busy, so we didn’t make a hotel reservation prior to arrival. Well, I was way off. Apparently, the months of September and October are the fall peak season. The whole town was packed! The town also has a peak season in the spring, because the temperatures during these months are very comfortable vs. the blazing hot summers. We were lucky enough to find one of the last three hotel rooms available. That’s a lesson I don’t want to learn ever again lol.
As I mentioned earlier about the area around Carbondale, Colorado, Moab is also known as a year-round recreational jackpot. With a unique blend of the climate, scenery and small town atmosphere, Moab has become one of the top favorite destinations in the Southwest. In 2016, nearly 1,600,000 people visited Arches NP; so you can imagine how busy this area is. The town itself has a little over 5,000 permanent residents, and the main drag, aka “downtown” has a nice mix of restaurants, microbreweries, shops and galleries. In addition to the nearby National Parks, visitors who crave a bit more adventure can go rafting, mountain biking, hiking, 4-wheeling, camping, etc.
A day in Arches National Park is a necessity. If you don’t want to spend the whole day in the park at least treat yourself to a sunrise and sunset showcasing the colors of the red rock landscape. Since we were there during peak season, traffic was heavy. It reminded me of Disneyland – where you’re following the same group of people to each attraction. We kept seeing the same tour bus at each point where we stopped, so we decided to skip ahead up the road a bit further. I suggest that when you’re planning a trip to Arches, check their website for traffic information, and decide what time of day you wish to enter the park. A little planning will go a long way!
Traffic aside, Arches National Park has so many amazing rock formations; it is a photographer’s paradise. It has over 2,000 natural stone arches, and hundreds of other formations of balanced rocks and “pinnacles”. There are endless trails to explore along the paved roads; be sure to have snacks and plenty of water.
Canyonlands National Park is also located by Moab, and is about 340,000 acres full of scenic canyons, mesas, buttes, arches, and “spires”. The Park has been divided into four “districts” with the aid of Mother Nature and the Green and Colorado rivers. While the districts appear the same visually, each one has its own character and offers different opportunities for exploring and adventure. Though they appear close on the map, there are no roads that directly link the four districts. Traveling between them requires several hours by car as there are limited places to cross the rivers. Again, a little planning will go a long way; and like us, you’ll probably want to visit only one area at a time.
We’re not four-wheelers, but as I mentioned, we do love rocks and rock formations, so on our extra day, we decided to take a riverboat tour on the Colorado River. Our tour was several hours, and the guide was so informative, pointing out a new rock formation at every bend in the river. If you have the time, I highly recommend it; there are several tour operators, so just do your research to find the right one.
#BeRoundTripReady: I’m sure everyone reading my blog has been on at least one or two road trips in their lifetime. I want to stress the importance of having snacks and water on every adventure; hand sanitizer and wipes always come in handy too! Depending on what time of year you visit Moab, be sure to preplan with a flexible itinerary; you and your travelers will have a much more pleasant trip if you have optional activities on your list.