We had our hottest and scariest nights sleep yet at our new favourite campground. Around 4:30AM we woke up to some pretty bright lightning overhead; although it was a pretty awesome light show, we eventually decided it would be best to observe from the safety of the car. Once Kayley–our on-site meteorologist–had deduced (based on the trusty counting method) that the storm had travelled a safe distance from us, we returned to our tent. For the first time on our trip, we decided to stay at the same site for two consecutive nights. This was very exciting, as it meant no tent takedown or setup for one whole day! I had originally scheduled us for three days in Moab–one for each park–but our decision to stay in Zion an extra day meant we had to condense. This turned out to not be a bad call based on the close proximity of all the parks to each other in Moab.
Our first park was Canyonlands National Park just North of Moab. After our routine visit to the Visitor’s Centre, we settled on Neck Spring Trail since it was “desert scenery” vs canyon views (which we felt we had seen a lot of at that point). As promised, the trail covered 5.8 miles of dry, rocky, desert terrain, but had less spring action than the name suggests. Over the course of the hike, we drew many parallels between the trail and the landscape of the Lion King. Unlike other hikes we had done, the trail was less obvious–marked only by “cairns,” small inukshuk rock formations. Additionally, we did not cross any other hikers on the entire trail which was really nice.
After 3.5 hours in what became blazing heat by the end of the hike, we were pretty beat by the time we made our way over to the park “next door.” We arrived at Dead Horse Point State Park with the best of intentions to complete another short hike, but fatigue had set in and the 37 degree weather had us longing for the AC of our car. We opted for a drive around the park to get out at the primary lookout points. Dead Horse was similar in landscape to Canyonlands; both parks are very well suited to not just hiking but also mountain biking and 4WDing. I later found out Moab is actually widely regarded as the mountain biking capital of the world.
That evening we returned to the campground to start preparing the meal we had all been waiting for–breakfast for dinner. Caiti and ELai had taken on the Head Chef roles in the group with Kayley and I behind the wheel. After the first bit of pancake mix had been poured on the grill Caiti soon realized we had run out of propane. As it turned out, the first fire of our trip was created not by choice but out of necessity. 15 minutes of firewood collecting later, we were back in business with Caiti carefully cooking our pancakes over the fire; the adversity made them taste all the better.
The next morning we headed for our final stop, Arches National Park. The park’s claim to fame is the fact that, as it’s name suggests, it is home to more than 2,000 sandstone arches. The most famous arch in the park–Delicate Arch–is featured on the Utah license plates. We selected a 4 hour hiking route that passed by 9 of the most famous arches. The trailhead is located 20 miles deep in the park and the drive through the park is very scenic in itself. A large portion of the trail was labeled “primitive” and involved scaling rocks and navigating the cairns again. The climbing around like monkeys part was definitely mine and Caiti’s favourite part, while it was a source of stress for ELai and Kayley.
With that we set off for our final destination, Salt Lake City! We camped outside Salt Lake in the National Forest at a really nice campground. The only problem was that there was no showers so we decided to drop-in to a local Crossfit gym the next day to workout and, mostly, use the facilities. We enjoyed a great brunch at Park Cafe, walked around Temple Square and the rest of the downtown core, and spent the rest of the afternoon at the only place we could handle the heat, a waterpark of course. Salt Lake was much smaller than I had expected with a population of only 200,000 but it was a relaxing place to spend the last day of our trip. The Last Supper was spent at none other than Chipotle–somewhere I look forward to frequenting in TO!
All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better trip before I get thrown into the real world! I was also reminded of how much fun and how cheap camping is–travel dollars go a lot further when you’re paying $4/night for accommodations!
“Of all the paths you take, make sure a few of them are dirt.”