Monday, May 28, 2018

Arches and Canyonlands National Park: A Weekend Getaway

Out of all of the national parks in the United States, Arches was one that has been sitting pretty high on the bucket list. As someone who often (and prefer to) travels on the weekends, it became really hard to plan for a trip to Arches National Park because it’s quite impossible to be conquered in two days.

When Memorial Day Weekend was approaching, I finally decided to book plane tickets to Salt Lake City and headed towards Moab where Arches National Park is located at. The excitement leading towards the trip was far more intense than any other trips I’ve planned in the past :)

↓ Scroll down to the bottom for itinerary )

Getting There
We flew to Salt Lake City from San Jose International Airport and arrived there at around 1 PM in the afternoon. I also recommend making rental car reservation ahead of the trip so you get to choose the type of car you want drive. I’ve always used because you can compare prices from many different rental companies and cancellation is free so book early!

Exploring Salt Lake City
Our first day was spent exploring the town of Salt Lake City since none of us has ever visited before. Had delicious lunch at Pretty Bird (the spicy fried chicken sandwich was bomb). Also did a little tour around the city where we visited the Temple Square and saw Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Our Stay
We wanted to splurge a little on our first night so we booked a night at The Grand America Hotel and wow it did not disappoint! We felt like royalty.

Arches National Park Day 1
The next day, we woke up early and were ready to head South for the arches! After a couple of stops, we made it to the park and did our first trail which was the Devil’s Garden Loop Trail (1.9 mile round trip - easy hike). The star of the trail was the Landscape Arch, which is the longest of the many natural rock arches located in the park.

Before the sunset, we managed to do another easy hike to see Sand Dune Arch. Sand Dune Arch Trail is a 0.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels.

Arches / Canyonlands National Park Day 2
The next day, we woke up at 3:30am in order to beat the crowd before the sunrise. We wanted to secure a spot for taking photo of the most photographed natural stone arches, Mesa Arch. Fun fact: it was once featured as one of the standard desktop backgrounds on Windows 7. We got there to an already crowded vista point with photographers standing elbow to elbow :(

Everyone was being super nice so I managed to snatch a couple of photos.

If you are serious and ambitious about getting the perfect sunrise photo, I recommend getting there at 4 AM to secure a spot for your tripod :) Even if you don’t, don’t sweat it too much too. Witnessing it with your own eyes is a pretty magical experience on its own.

After an early lunch and a quick nap back in Moab, we headed back to Arches National Park to conquer two more trails: Double Arch Trail and Delicate Arch Trail.

Double Arch takes its name because it consists of two arches that share the same stone as a foundation for both of their outer legs. It was an easy hike and is my favorite arch of all.

We reserved our last trail for the most recognizable natural arch, Delicate Arch. This trail climbs 480 feet (146 m) up a steep slick-rock slope. The trail has no shade and some exposure to heights. We saw a family who gave up half way because the heights was too unbearable for them. I complaint to my friend every 10 minutes too so no judgement here :p I would also recommend going there when it's closed to sunset so the heat wouldn't be too harsh and the walk back would be gorgeous too.

The rewarding view at the end was well worth it :) I would probably not do this hike again because hiking up a steep slope was not fun but would definitely do all the other arches again in the future!

Here's my 4-day itinerary to Arches and Canyonlands National Park

Day 1 - Friday
Day 2 - Saturday
Day 3 - Sunday
  • Early morning in the Canyonlands National Park
  • Mesa Arch (get there super early to get a spot!!)
  • Island in the Sky Visitor Center
  • Grand View Point Overlook
  • Go to Dead Horse Point Trail
  • Go back to Moab for lunch
  • Evening / Sunset in the Arches National Park
  • Stay a night in Comfort Suites Moab
Day 4 - Monday
  • Drive back to Salt Lake City
  • Dinner at MakanMakan
  • Fly back to San Jose at night
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