We spent six sun, sweat soaked (say that six times fast) days in Moab, Utah. Six days were not enough. We had just enough time to fall in love but not enough to make our relationship Facebook official.
The regions unique relationship between dirt and water has created the most diverse playground and it is as beautiful as it is unearthly. The red sandstone formations would seem fitting for mars if it weren’t for the dotting of unusual desert flora. Additionally, it’s a great place for trippers like me to do my thang. By that I mean there are things everywhere to trip over.
For Moab, we kicked our own butts and came out scratched, bloodied and bruised resulting in the most amazing non-drug related high, a primitive nature high. I want to say we tackled Moab, but really Moab tackled us.
Getting in the swing of RV living was easy because our living took place mostly outdoors. By now I would think that claustrophobia would start creeping in given our 126 square foot home on wheels with 3 occupants (8 legs), but it just can’t happen when our days are spent in wide open spaces. Maybe this is the cure, or a cure, to the commonly shared first world feeling that we need more space, more house. There’s plenty of room outside.
We split our time between activities on BLM land and the areas national parks. Our dog Brody is a key player in our journey and since national parks shut out the love for domesticated animals, we have to find him as many other playgrounds as we can.
We are finding, and I will speak more on this in the future, our national parks are special and warrant protection but there are so many public places that are there for the finding. These gems can be found with a little research, through the advice of a friendly local or with a some self-guided exploration. The benefits of going off the beaten path are well… less crowds. There is such a magnified difference when experiencing nature with the peace and quiet rhythm of your own breath. National parks hold their own no matter the flock they draw, but they aren’t the only way to see the great beauty of this country.
Here’s a look at where we went.
Day Hiking on BLM land
Our first stop came on the recommendation of Matt’s friend who used to live in the area. We got an early start and hiked a section of the Jackson Trail on the Amasa Back. This trail climbs parallel to the Colorado River and has stunning views of the canyon that cause the double whammy of taking your breath away while already being out of breath from hiking.
One thing to note is that many trails near Moab are multi-use to include off highway and 4WD vehicles. This was new to us as Colorado separates use of trails more so. We were deterred from another trail option only because we saw 6 jeeps in line to head up. This would have been fine but Brody likes to chase cars so you can likely imagine the tug-of-war that would create. We spoke with our guide on our mountain bike tour (later) and she said that some places are too far to hike or bike to so it makes sense people are out in their vehicles. Too much too see I guess and that is not a problem.
A few days later we jumped across the Colorado River (not literally) and took the Corona Arch Trail, where two spectacular arches can be seen. This is truly a testament to the value of taking some time to see land that is not within a national park. The trail had few hikers, we could take Brody and we got to see sights worthy of a national park.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park reminds me of a time tested piece of art. It tends to reach people in varying ways. Some can stand before an arch, marvel and stay still, others need to discuss, some get up close and examine, while others could not care more than to snap a quick selfie. As art I think it is appropriate to let the pictures do the talking.
*Two things though if you plan to visit. First, go early. This will really help you get ahead of the crowds. Second if you plan to do the full hike from Devil’s Garden Trailhead as we did, be prepared to hike and climb. Some of the sites along the way are an easy reach, while others require water and some real energy to see.
Dead Horse Point State Park
Dead Horse Point was historically used to corral wild mustangs and is seemingly the gateway to the more infamous Canyonlands National Park. I would say though the park stands on its own with its unique terrain and spectacular views of the Colorado River. To navigate this wonder we chose to mountain bike with the help of Rim Tours, who we definitely recommend.
Having limited experience with mountain biking, the terrain was challenging but with the help of our guide Marla, who has so much soul and love for life, we were on our way to loving a new sport. Both rocks and sand created the obstacles and it was a head game to overcome them. I was truly disappointed that the camera wasn’t rolling when I went completely over my handle bars, smashing to the ground with the eloquence of a toddler in a bouncy castle, with more thud than bounce. I’m still bruised and also bummed I didn’t make it through that section. Fortunately, the more coordinated half of the team dominated and made it look easy. The nice thing about mountain biking in Dead Horse State Park is that when you have to dust yourself off, at least you have amazing views to pick you back up.
I feel like this is an appropriate place to say that when looking to kill some pain or relax after a long Moab day, stick to bottled beer. Utah’s beer taps are regulated at 4 percent ABV, meaning I guess they water them down (that’s how the ones we tried tasted).
Canyonlands National Park
Weeks. That is how long I would want to spend in Canyonlands. There are three regions of Canyonlands separated completely by the Green and Colorado Rivers, which are Island in the Sky, The Needles and The Maze. Activities include rafting, mountain biking, day hikes and backpacking.
We had planned to do a few day hikes, but our time in Moab had been full, leaving us only one day at the end. Huge bummer. To top it off, the prior days biking accident had left me unable to turn my head and with suspicious pains in my abdomen where I hit the handlebars.
This left us to join the masses of car sight seers to the lookout points in the Island of the Sky. So no matter your capability level Moab can be seen and enjoyed. We leisurely and patiently took our time driving along the rim and looking out onto a land that one day we plan to return to and trek though.