Moab winter adventure

This summer I read about Wall Arch collapsing at Arches National Park in Utah.  That got me thinking that I’d sure like to see the remaining arches before they fall.  Laura and I decided that would be this year’s holiday adventure.

Saturday – Left early in the morning and drove 518 miles to Las Vegas.  Stayed at the Palms Casino.  Nice rooms, horrible food at the restaurants.  Didn’t win millions so we still have to work.

Sunday – Drove 460 miles to Moab Utah.  The scenery on the drive through Southeastern Arizona and then Utah was spectacular.  It snowed pretty significantly the week before, so the snow covered canyons were really something.  After arriving at Moab we turned on SR 128 and drove 17 miles up a narrow canyon that followed the Colorado river.  The sun was setting so the colors were simply amazing.  We stayed at what used to be a working ranch, now the Sorrel River Ranch on the banks of the river.  Our room was in a small cabin away from the main lodge.  The food, staff, and accommodations were great.

Monday – It snowed quite a bit overnight and there were still a few flurries when we woke up.   Temps were in the high 20’s.  The weather looked iffy for the day but we decided to at least see some of the park before the storm got worse.  The drive back out the 17 miles through the canyon was a little slow as the plows hadn’t cleared the roads yet.  At the park the ranger advised us not to head down to delicate arch as the road wasn’t plowed and it was pretty steep.  We stuck to the front area of the park… Balancing rock, the Windows, Turret Arch, petrified sand dunes, etc…  By about 3pm the storm was getting worse so we decided to call it a day.

Tuesday – Snow again overnight, but blue skies when we woke up.  Today was the big hike day.  The goal was to do the primitive loop, and then Delicate arch.  We first hiked out to Landscape arch.  Pretty amazing that it remains standing as thin and long as it is.  We then hiked about a mile or so down the primitive loop only to run into a sign indicating the trail was closed.  We turned back and then started down the Eastern side of the loop so we could see the Fins.  A stop for lunch, then hiked down to Pine Tree and Tunnel arches.  Back to the car and then drove down to the Delicate Arch trailhead.  After the miles we did previously, the hike to Delicate arch put a little strain on the legs.  About half of it is an uphill climb up slickrock and then eventually a narrow snow ledge.  The view looking across at the arch is really something.  Late afternoon sun turned the rocks an amazing reddish pink color.  We hiked back down to the car and then did one last stop at the Fiery Furnace overlook.   We finished off the day with a stop at the Moab Brewery (yes, alcohol in Utah!).

Wednesday – We had a third day of hiking scheduled for several secluded canyons.  We spent several hours agonizing over the weather.  That night and Thursday a significant storm was scheduled to blow in and we were worried about making the drive back to Vegas on Christmas day in a large storm.  The hotel manager agreed that it wouldn’t be the wisest move to drive in that storm and refunded us our room for that night (very nice of him since he had no obligation to do so!).  We cut our hiking short by one day and drove back to sin city.

Thursday – Spent the day at the casino, relaxed, drove out to the Hoover dam, saw a movie, and still didn’t win millions.

Friday – Drove back home.  Took 99 instead of I-5 this time.  Still can’t decide which is better drive.  Another great trip and we’re both glad we saw most of the famous arches.  There’s so much to see and do in the Moab area we could easily spend another week there.