Saturday, April 1, 2017

Arches National Park!



This was our 3rd trip to Moab. Our first trip was in 2014 where we camped for the weekend with our son Forrest and his family, our second trip was in 2015 where we spent a few days visiting our friends Dino and Lisa. This time….we were alone.
After leaving Lake Powell we spent the night at Sand Island BLM Campground in Utah. This was a nice little park with several big rig sites right along the river.




We arrived at OK RV Park in Moab the next day. This is the campground where Dino and Lisa worked for two seasons and once we mentioned we were friends of theirs we were given the royal treatment! Given the best spot in the park, a welcome basket that included caviar, Champaign and chocolate covered strawberries, free passes to the spa and turndown service every night. Well, maybe not but the owners and their former co-workers do miss them.

At $20/night with Passport America this is a great little park to stay at for a few nights.

We were staying 2½ days/3 nights so we thought we would get a couple of hikes/jeep adventures in but between the chores and rain we only ended up getting one adventure in. But what an adventure it was! Friends John and Pam have been here multiple times so we searched their blog for the ultimate hike. After reading several of their posts and texting back and forth we chose two hikes in Arches National Park; Tower Arch and the Fiery Furnace ranger led hike if we had time.
We had never been to Arches so we were looking forward to the visit. There are over 2,000 arches in Arches National Park. I am happy to report that only have about 1,995 left to see! Needless to say we have many visits ahead of us if we plan on seeing any more.

At the Visitors Center we discovered that the Fiery Furnace hikes were not starting for a couple of weeks so we just got our Passport Book stamped and off we went! The Tower Arch trailhead is in the northwest corner of the park meaning we had to drive almost the whole length to get to the trailhead. Perfect opportunity to see the varying landscape within the park!
We had originally planned on taking the 3.5 mile roundtrip hike to the arch but while reading the trail description on the way to the trailhead we discovered that there is a jeep trail that leads to another trailhead only .3 miles from the arch. The description said that it was a rough jeep trail requiring 4 wheel drive, high clearance and was often impassible after rain storms. Looks like the perfect opportunity to do a combo adventure!

When we left the main road onto the jeep trail it was smooth sailing for the first mile or so. We thought this was going to be a piece of cake and we would be at the .3 mile trailhead in no time. We soon learned at we were wrong……very very wrong. What started out as a 25mph gravel road quickly turned into a 1-5mph rock crawl.
The road started out pretty smooth
Then it got rough.... these pictures just don't do it justice
Headed up!

View from the top.....with the road leading off

On a difficulty scale of 1-10 I would give 5 or 6. There were no real pucker moments but it was rough and you had to go very slow and pick your spots or you would find yourself hung up. There were several times Barb got out to take pictures and was walking faster than I was crawling over the rocks. We spent the next hour and a half in 4 low crawling up and around obstacles as we made our way to the trailhead. It was a blast!
There were views in every direction!




Tower Arch is just to the right of the Jeep
Once we got to the trailhead we could see Tower Arch right in front of us. The challenge was getting to it. There is a sign that tells you to stay on the marked trail which we had no problem doing for a while until it lead to a slick rock section where the trail totally disappeared. After a little trial and error we found the right trail and soon we were at the arch!
Which way to the arch?
Barb and I split up and did some solo exploring. I went up behind Tower Arch.....


You can see Barb in the lower right corner (blue dot)

....while she went to the right where there is another smaller arch that is worth exploring.

If you look really close you can see me on a ledge in the middle under the arch


The second arch in the area
When we met up an hour or so later back at the jeep we found that our .3 mile hike had turned into a over 2 miles of hiking and exploring.  We wanted a different jeep trail on the way out. This trail led south 9 miles and west another 7 before it intersected highway 191 outside the park. There are several areas of soft sand so only north/south travel is recommended on this road. After going through it and seeing the tracks left by those trying to go north, I don’t know how you could ever do it.
Along the way we passed Eye of the Whale arch, another one we can cross off our list!

After exiting the park (after about mile 4 of our westerly leg) we found ourselves in the Willow Springs boondocking area. We had wanted to check it out to see if this is somewhere we would want to stay on future trips. It was packed! Kids, 4 wheelers, dirt bikes…doesn’t anyone work or go to school anymore? It must have been spring break at school or something. There were a few spots that our rig would fit but if it is always this crowded we will pass.
The yellow line shows our route for the day. We entered on the south end and exited to the west
We got back to OK RV Park at about 4pm meaning our entire trip took about 6 hours. This is about our limit for leaving the dogs alone so it worked out well.
The next day it rained almost all day so we read, did some laundry and walked the town just to get out and about. Being cooped up in the rig that third day cut into our adventure time and made this trip to this area seem short. Time to move on and make our way north!  

24 comments:

  1. Glad you had a great hike/jeep ride. It is nice to see your pictures of things we can never get too! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Barb said she was feeling it after we got back from the jeep ride, it was a rough one!

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  2. Beautiful...ya gotta love Utah! You guys sure covered a lot of territory. Your ears must have been burning. Minutes before you posted Dianne said Jim and Barb haven't posted anything for awhile. LOL!

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    1. That's what you call timing! We were talking about you guys yesterday, hope all is going well!

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  3. Love Moab and Arches. Canyonlands NP has great 4 wheel treks also

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    1. We were bummed we missed Canyonlands, we will have to hit it our next time through.

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  4. Sorry your weather wasn't good for this visit. But at least you got to visit one of less crowded areas of the park. I forgot about the other road passed the Eye of the Whale. There are several burrowing owls along the right side of the road as you drive out. The Eye of the Whale is neat hike, too. The Whale is very obvious on the opposite side. According to the park directions, they suggest you drive the road from the Tower Arch out of the park. That way you are going down the steps instead of up! Glad you made it!

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    1. I can't believe you guys did Eye of the Whale, we thought maybe we saw an arch you didn't! It did not look like too much of a whale eye from our side

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  5. The scenery is just beautiful which is someplace we'd really like to see. Would it not have been more practical to take the Side-by-Side rather than the Jeep? Maybe if you were staying in the Park itself? Something to think of when you go back to see the other 1995 arches.
    Glad to see you are still having fun.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

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    1. I am not sure if you can use side by sides in the park but that would have been a lot quicker and probably smoother.

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  6. Love it that we're getting a sneak preview and lots of tips for our upcoming route!! Thanks!! (Now...wish we had a jeep!!)

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    1. If you have time, plan on staying an extra day or two. There is so much to do that you will probably find yourself running short on time.

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  7. One of our favorite places. We miss it. I am glad they treated you nicely. It cost me an extra $100 to make a good impression on you.

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    1. I can see why you like it. It would be hard not to keep going back year after year.

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  8. That sounds like a great ride, Jim! Arches is on our list for the future.

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  9. Now that looks like a fun adventure! Arches is a cool place. Just don't like the crowds that seem to be there all the time now. Safe travels!

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    1. It was crowded at the entrance and all the roadside pull offs were packed. But the Tower Arch was not bad at all. There were maybe 10 people in and out while we were there.

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  10. Great pictures, glad to see you two are having fun.
    Roger & Cindi Olson

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    1. Looks like you two are continuing to have fun as well!

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  11. We loved Arches and the entire Moab area. We were there in 2015. It is one of those places we will go back to also. Slickrock is cool!

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    1. We should have stayed a few days longer, you really need a week to do it justice.

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  12. What a blast having the jeep along!

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    1. Sometimes it is a pain for it sure is nice in places like this!

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