National Parks Tour: Arches National Park and Moab

Friday, September 3, 2021

Glad I was able to sleep well last night because I was up at 4:00 again. Felt like I needed another shower just to be sure I got all the red sand dust out of my hair. We were treated to a colorful sunrise over the monuments as we waited outside the Lodge for the restaurant to open. Before we walked to the restaurant, we had to put our bags outside the doors for pick-up.

We sat with the California couple and waited to be served, and waited, and waited. It was a limited menu, but it took the servers quite a while to get to all the tables. The schedule said the bus was going to depart at 8:00 but I didn’t see that happening with so many people not getting their food until 7:30.

When we did get the food, Chuck and the wife got each other’s omelet. She was the first to realize it because she discovered meat in her vegetarian omelet. They didn’t send them back, but I guess she would have if she had been a true vegetarian. We had to eat fast and went back to our room so we could brush our teeth and grab our backpacks. There were still people eating when we left the restaurant.

We ended up leaving about 30 minutes late. Just couldn’t be helped. The Arches weren’t going anywhere so it wasn’t a real problem.

Our first photo stop was the point in the road where Forrest Gump finally stops running across the country and decides it’s time to go home.

Flag marks place where Forrest stops running.

We stopped for a restroom break in Blanding Utah, a small community. Had a very nice Visitor Center and the woman working the desk gave us all Kind bars – energy bars made of dark chocolate and peanut butter. Nice treat.

The drive had a long stretch of brown land with nothing but scrub bushes. However, we did have our first sighting of a prairie dog community.

Al said we were now entering an area known as canyon land and is a Ute Nation area. We saw our first Arch.

We arrived in Moab around noon and parked at the Visitor Center. Al told us about several restaurants and then let us “scatter” again. We walked down to the Moab Diner – a 50’s style restaurant. I had the Veggie sandwich and Chuck had the Kokopelli Chicken sandwich – chicken with Spanish seasoning and topped with a green chili. Too hot for me. Chuck thought it was great.

I ordered a scoop of Bunny Trax ice cream, but a server mistakenly brought me Praline ice cream. The manager noticed I got the wrong ice cream and brought me the right one. I had told him it was fine, and Praline was okay, but he told me to have both. I gave Chuck the Praline one. Wish mistakes were all as good as this one was.

While we were walking back to the Visitor Center, I got a call from our Holland America cruise consultant who let us know that our South America/Antarctica cruise for January 2022 was being cancelled and did we want to be moved to 2023. Yes, we did. We first booked for Feb 2021, but it got moved to Jan 2022. Now it is Jan 2023. I sure hope I finally get to go. So disappointing for it to be moved again.

After lunch, we drove out to the Arches National Park. We got to see the Balanced Rock, Double Arch, North Window, South Window, and the Turret Arch. They were certainly impressive structures.

Again, the heat was oppressive and just sucked the breath right out of you. There is a reason that the literature says the best time to visit is April and May and if you plan to do any of the strenuous trails you should carry one gallon of water per person per day. Some people hiked all the way up to the farthest ones. We chose to go to the closest ones and hang out in the little bit of shade there was. We were also warned to stay on the trail. No tripping into the Prickly Pear cacti.

Before we left the Park, we went to the Visitor Center and I was able to find my Christmas ornament as well as study the information provided. I enjoyed my time at this unusual national park, but I was glad to go on to the hotel to get out of the heat.

We stayed at the Hyatt Place Moab which was a mile from downtown Moab. It was a new and very modern hotel – much different from the Goulding Lodge. Some people chose to go back to Moab for dinner and others decided to take the shuttle up to the Sunset Grill behind the hotel on a hill which was said to have wonderful views.

We just wanted to relax so we decided to sit out by the pool and then eat at the Hotel. The pool area had some comfy couches as well as loungers. I only stuck my feet in it, but the water was cool. There were a few people swimming.

When we decided to eat at the hotel restaurant, there were two other couples who had the same idea, so we all ate together. The hotel had a limited menu and because it was Utah, I had to go back to the room and get my driver license so they could scan it before I could have a beer. Al had warned us that Utah had a variety of laws about serving alcohol and depending on the license-type an establishment had, we would face different requirements.

On our way to the restaurant, I realized that the hotel laundry was down the hall from our room. I had thought about waiting until Custer State Park or Yellowstone to do laundry, but I checked this one out. It wasn’t busy and better yet – it was free to guests. I had brought laundry pods and a few dryer sheets, so I didn’t even have to buy them from the vending machine. I decided to take advantage and got 2 loads done after dinner. We shouldn’t have to do laundry again until we get home.

Went back out to the pool for a little while longer but we didn’t last long. The day has been a fun one, but we have another long day tomorrow. Onward to Denver.

Travel Trivia

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park covers an area of 120 square miles. It lies atop an underground salt bed that is responsible for the arches, spires, balanced rocks, and sandstone fins.

A natural arch is only considered as such if it has an opening at least three feet wide.

The park contains the highest density of natural arches in the world.

Airplanes aren’t allowed to fly over Arches National Park because the vibrations from the planes could potentially break the fragile features of the arches.

Delicate Arch is the most famous arch in the park and in the world. It is a 60-foot tall freestanding natural arch. The arch is depicted on Utah license plates and on a 1996 postage stamp commemorating Utah’s centennial anniversary of admission to the Union. The Olympic torch relay for the 2002 Winter Olympics passed through the arch.

Balanced Rock is one of the most iconic features in the park. The total height of Balanced Rock is about 128-feet tall, with the balancing rock rising 55 feet above the base. The big rock on top is the size of three school buses.

The Old Spanish Trail, a trade route between Santa Fe and Los Angeles, was traveled for centuries. Its route went directly past what is today’s Arches visitor center.

Wall Arch, the 12th largest in Arches, collapsed overnight in 2008. No one saw it happen. It is said that all of the natural arches will one day fall. But other arches are always forming. Whoever discovers a new natural arch gets to name it!

Moab, Utah

The name Moab comes from an ancient Biblical kingdom.

Moab is a mountain biking mecca. Its Slickrock Bike Trail is one of the most technically challenging ones in the world.

Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch gang got into many robberies and shootouts with Moab’s lawmen. Their Robbers Roost hideout was in a wild maze of canyons east of town.

Moab hosted a uranium boom in the 1950s after prospector Charlie Steen hit it big.

A living crust called “biological soil crust” covers much of the surrounding area in Moab. Composed of algae, lichens and bacteria, this crust provides a secure foundation for desert plants.

*Trivia provided by Wikipedia, Arches National Park literature, and Globus.

Author: mmmtravelmemories

A retired college administrator who loves to travel. I write to remember the experiences and, I hope, to inspire others to make their own travel memories.

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