NOTE ARCHES VISITORS: April to October 3, 2022, timed-entry reservation tickets are required! See Recreation.gov for more info.
Just when I thought I’d already seen all the marvelous landscape southern Utah could possibly offer, Arches NP proved me wrong. Situated just five miles north of Moab off US Highway 191, the Visitor Center greets you before you begin to climb, climb, and climb up to nearly 6,000 feet.
We arrived at the park at 5:45 a.m., beating the time required to have a reservation to enter. They say this reservation system will not limit the crowds, but will help to even visitors out during each day.
I found Arches more spread out than some parks, providing a more relaxed visit overall. It also gave us gorgeous panorama not seen in some others.
Even though the park’s name will have you looking for arches…
I found “Balanced Rock” to be even more outstanding. That monstrosity is 128 feet tall, weighing in at over 3,600 tons! And yes, the same erosive action that formed it will one day cause it to fall.
Even though we started our tour before sunrise, we still managed to finish well before traffic became a problem.
The following day, we toured the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands NP. The park is made up of four separate districts, not connected by back roads or highways.
The Island in the Sky district is actually a huge mesa. It’s sandstone cliffs tower over 1,000 feet above the surrounding terrain, providing astounding perspectives at each of the many pullouts along this 34-mile round trip scenic drive.
As you can see, rain threatened during our visit. Fortunately we made it through before the skies really opened up!
We made it! We toured each of southern Utah’s Mighty Five national parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands. Although tough to single one out, Bryce Canyon was the most breathtaking in my opinion.
I must mention, at Minivan Lee’s Facebook Group Meet-up in Quartzsite recently, someone (sorry, her name escapes me) suggested using the app Just Ahead for audio tours of each park. I found it to be fantastic and highly recommend it for valuable and timely turn-by-turn information.
Moab, situated in eastern Utah, seems to be a great starting point for the next step in this adventure. So let’s do it…Colorado here we come! Stay tuned!