Hmmmmm Moab in early September…..yep we decided to come here and boondock in the desert with temperatures rising to 100 degrees…we figured out how to work with the temperatures though!
We absolutely loved Moab and spent 8 nights here and probably would have stayed longer had we not had plans in Phoenix for our much needed repairs. A very touristy town but had a welcoming downtown with two grocery stores, lots of quaint restaurants (see below at the one we ate at!) and tour companies for any off-roading experience you would like to go on. It was however very hot here in September and we couldn’t leave Kenya alone in the trailer during the hot desert afternoons. We ended up just relaxing behind our trailer in the shade during that time and taking advantage of being out on the trails early in the morning or late in the evening.
Where we stayed
Willow Springs Trail on State Sovereign Lands: https://www.campendium.com/willow-springs-trail just a 12 minute drive away from Arches National Park and a 35 minute drive from Canyonlands National Park … doesn’t get much better than this for location! We got good speed on our 3 bars of LTE through AT&T. There are two vault toilets and several portable toilets around that were cleaned and stocked with toilet paper on a regular basis. We stayed further down the road before the hill down to the second loop. We only had one spot across from us but other than that we were in an excellent spot away from late night campers that seemed to stay near the beginning of the road.
What we did
ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
Delicate Arch Trail is the iconic arch on all of the Utah license plates. We were warned at the visitor center that this was the second busiest month to go to this National Park as hundreds of visitors will flock to this arch and you will wait in the blistering heat for your turn to capture that photo. Seeing Delicate Arch was on our “must do list” so, we planned to work around it! We set our alarms for 5:30 am and hit the trail at 7 am. We enjoyed an AMAZING drive into the park with no one else on the road watching the sunrise. It was just breathtaking and highly recommend getting there this early just to see the sun hit the this majestic park on your way in. We have truly never seen anything like the entrance into Arches before. We saw no one on the trail until we reached the top and ran into a few people leaving after seeing the sunset at the arch. We were able to walk right up and get our pictures at the arch without waiting in any lines and dying from heat as we were in the shade the whole way up. It was so grand that it had us all admiring and taking it all in. So worth getting up early for!
Park Avenue Trail was another early morning hike for us. Right at the front of the park it was easy to fit into another days activities. Most people just did the lookout at the beginning and did not venture farther into the rigid part of the trail. It was only 2 miles in and out and a great hike to start our day!
Devil’s Garden Trail can be upwards of 10 miles round trip, we did about 7 miles in and out to Double O Arch with hitting others such as Landscape, Navajo and Partition Arches. Landscape Arch actually had a 60 piece fall off it in 1991. Luckily, no one was injured as the visitors near it at the time of the fall were able to escape in time. We hit the trail early at 8 am and got lucky with cooler temperatures throughout the entire hike with a lot of shade along the way. Most of the trail is primitive with hiking over rock which is what we love best! At one point along the trail just before you reach Double O Arch, it is a narrow rock passage with amazing views but, a very long way down on either side should you get too close to the edge.
4 x 4 Trail to Willow Springs within Arches NP. We found one that actually goes from Balancing Rock right to our camping spot at Willow Springs. There was only one clip we took along the road and it got much more intense as we drove along. At one point I had to hop out and spot the truck as Jason drove up a boulder….well less spotting and more thinking… “what did we get ourselves into” and “please don’t let us damage our truck”!!! We rely on our truck to tow our home on wheels around. So I didn’t think about capturing that moment as I watched the truck climb over boulders, or thinking about it as I sat in the car not letting go of the “oh crap” handle. We did make it right to our spot without damage, although at one point on the road we bottomed out. All seems to be fine though and now we are sitting here wishing we had caught more on video! It was a pretty neat experience and would definitely do another in a National Park again.
FISHER TOWERS TRAIL
This trail was recommended to us by one of Jason’s old colleagues back in Ontario who had vacationed here numerous times so we had to try it! It was about 50 minutes away from our spot but, oh, it is a scenic drive around the Colorado River along route 128 the whole way there. The trail is located off of a rough dirt road that did not recommend more than 22 feet towing (so good thing we were just in our truck!) The trail is 4.4 miles in and out. There is a ladder to continue on the trail just before the 2 mile mark. We had Kenya with us so that is where we ended the trail to turn back but, I think it took us twice as long anyway just stopping to take pictures and feel the magnitude of standing against these towering sandstone rock formations.
On the way back along route 128, we visited Castle Creek Winery. One of things I loved about living back in Ontario was being so close to Niagara on the Lake and biking around sampling new and old favorite wines along the way. So needless to say I was VERY excited to sample some wines! This was a cute winery with a nice selection of whites and reds. We walked away with a bottle of Lily Rose White which we enjoyed after two long days of hiking!
CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK
It seems that Arches National Park gets all the glory around here. Canyonlands National Park is definitely worth the visit! Breathtaking overlooks and viewpoints had many visitors set up with their cameras for opportunities of pictures in solitude overlooking the canyons. We arrived in the evening and the sunset was amazing over the canyons allowing us to grab lots of good pictures and just time to take it all in. We went in the evening to see the Star Party that Canyonlands was hosting. The 3 parks in the area, Arches NP, Deadhorse Point SP and Canyonlands NP get together and host a star viewing night with the rangers with several telescopes for visitors to use. The rangers put on a fantastic lecture on some of the history behind beliefs in the stars and they allowed us to all partake in viewing nebulas and planets. September we learned was one of the best times to see the Milky Way which was just incredible!
DEADHORSE POINT STATE PARK
This was somewhat of a tough decision for us to go to as it was $20 to get in the park and it doesn’t cost us anything to go to the National Parks now with our annual pass. We were told that it gives a closer look to the canyons and it is also dog friendly so we were able to take Kenya out on the trails and lookouts with us. In our opinion, had we not had the annual pass, it would have been worthwhile to go here and spend the day. For us however, it had similar lookouts to Canyonlands NP just on a smaller scale. We did enjoy hiking around Deadhorse Point lookout and getting out for the afternoon with Kenya in tow.
This was the best Mexican Restaurant we had ever been to! Fiesta Mexicana is located in downtown Moab that had a great ambiance and beyond reasonably priced menu for the serving size you receive. We were raving about it all week and it was very hard not to go back a second time!
What we missed
We were hoping to take our paddle board out along the Colorado River. With the heat of the afternoon, we opted for our time spent on the trails instead. Would have been fun though!