Moab, Utah - 2012

Hiking and Camping at Canyonlands, DeadHorse State Park, and Arches National Parks

May 3rd, Thursday

We left Albuquerque at 6:30am on Thursday, May 3rd and drove northwest to Moab, Utah arriving around 1:30pm. We had campground reservations for 1 night at Deadhorse State Park so we decided to start at Canyonlands for a few hours.

The entrance to Islands in the Sky District of Canyonlands is off the same road as Deadhorse, just north of Moab. Our National Park pass got us in for free ($10 per car is the fee), and we stopped for a few pictures before entering the Welcome Station. There were dozens of cars and a tour bus stopped there, and we really didn't spend much time inside the building. Accross the street was a viewpoint and we grabbed cameras and headed over to check it out.

From this viewpoint we could see down into the canyons with winding roads going down to the bottom. We could also see several vehicles driving on the roads, as well as a mountain biker. A group of backpackers was desending down a trail, also. It was getting windy, and some clouds were rolling in, so we stayed at this point only a few minutes before getting back into the truck and heading south towards Mesa Arch.

One of the symbols of the Islands in the Sky district is Mesa Arch. Just a short 1/4 mile hike from a parking lot, the arch overlooks the spectacular canyons and mesas of the park.

photos - coming soon!

We then continued on down the road to the campground. Willow Flats Campground is small, and first-come first-served. It sits right at the rim of the canyon so spectacular views are only steps away! The campground was full, as we had expected, but we did drive around and check it out for future trips here. Then we parked and walked out to the point for photos.

photos - coming soon!

With the increasing wind, and threat of rain, we decided to head over to Deadhorse Point state park and set up our tent. It took only 30 minutes to arrive at the entrance station and discovered that our National Park pass was not accepted there, but since we had campground reservations our entrance fee was waived. Yeah. The Welcome station was still open, but opted to hurry to the campground first. Our campsite was ready, and we quickly set up our tent. The campground is a small circle, with only 1 restroom which happened to be on the far side from our site but it was no problem. Bugs were swarming (just like I had read on the Canyonlands website) so we had to put on DEET spray before we were eaten alive. Uggghhh. These little gnats are mean and bite hard! The best part of this campground is that each site has a covered picnic table with a light and cabinet (for food storage?), as well as a charcoal grill. Each site also has plenty of shade from the juniper trees. Some sites are larger than others, but all seemed quite adaquate for multiple tents if needed. It was only the two of us here, so just one tent... however, the site next to us was occupied by a group of motorcyclists with 6 tents!

We ate sandwiches there at the site, then drove to the Welcome station to check it out before it closed at 6pm. It is a nice large building with an educational room, gift shop, and viewing area for the canyon just outside. We walked around for several minutes and took a few photos before heading down to Deadhorse Point. Wow!!! This viewpoint is SPECTACULAR! We walked around snapping photos and shooting video for several minutes, even though it was very windy and chilly. Groups of people were walking around but the wind and blowing sand were a bummer. We decided that this was a great place for photos at dawn, so that was our plan for the next day.

The clouds finally cleared and wind died down just before sunset. It was a rough night's sleep with the party-boys at the site next to us going until near midnight.


May 4th, Friday

In the morning, just as the sun was rising we dressed and grabbed out cameras. We headed down to Deadhorse Point for photos and more video. Wow Wow Wow!! It was very chilly and the wind was still blowing a bit, but the views were unbelieveable.

After over an hour there, we returned to the campsite, ate some oatmeal and fruit, then packed up our campsite. We drove out of the park, through the open rangeland again, and into Moab. Gas and grocery store stops for some ice were needed, and then we went to the Arches National Park entrance. It was 10am already by this time, and we were both ready for lunch, so we stopped at the Welcome Station to pick up our Fiery Furnace tickets for Saturday, then headed to the Devil's Garden Campground where we had reservations for the next 2 nights.

We arrived at the campground at 11am, and before even setting up the tent, we pulled out food for lunch and ate. Our hiking group buddies were expected to arrive between 1-3pm coming from Albuquerque so we had plenty of time to set up our tents, then take a short hike.

Located right next to our campsite was the trailhead for the loop trail to 3 Arches - Tapestry, Broken Arch, and Sanddune Arch. We had done the full loop on a previous hike, but had not gone to Tapestry Arch which is on a short side trail. Just 1/4 mile out and back, this hike was perfect for this first day as the wind was still whipping and the temperature was rising to the 80s.

photos - coming soon!

At 4pm most of the group had arrived, so many of us piled in cars and drove over to the Delicate Arch trailhead at Wolf Ranch, 15 minutes from the campground. It was still very hot and sunny, but the wind helped cool us down somewhat. The long uphill climb (only 1.5 miles but it seems longer due to the lack of shade) gave us spectacular views. On top of the mesa sits the arch, the symbol of the state of Utah. The wind was really whipping up top, and it was difficult to stand up at times. some of our group decided to walk around to the arch itself while some sat at the ridge. We spent 15-20 minutes there at the arch before heading back down the trail. A short side trail next to the Wolf log cabin leads to some petroglyphs so we circled by them on the way to the parking lot. Back at the campsite, we tried to cook dinner but the wind would not die down, so our hot dinner was more like a lukewarm dinner.

Some of the group stayed up by campfires for awhile but most of the hikers were asleep by 10pm.


May 5th, Saturday

After a very windy night, we woke up to find the wind was dying down. Yeah! We cooked breakfast and packed up for our morning hike in Devil's Garden. A few hikers wanted to do the whole 7.4 mile loop so they left at 7am, while some of us only planned to do the 4+ mile out-and-back to Double O Arch so we left at 8am. Some other hikers only planned to do the first mile of the hike to Landscape Arch so they were leaving a bit later. Along the hike we ran into many of the hikers in our group and got some group photos out at Double O Arch.

Most of the hikers in our group had bought tickets to the 2pm Fiery Furnace guided hike so we loaded up into cars and drove to the trailhead. There we were met by Ranger John, who lead us into the Fiery Furnace!

Ranger John gave us a fantastic 3 1/2 hour tour and answered all our questions.


May 6th, Sunday

Sunrise was quite spectacular this morning so we snapped quite a few shots as well as some video. We broke camp early so we could head over to the Windows Section of Arches for an hour before heading home. Wind had picked back up so it was a bit chilly at 8am, but we still had a great time walking around and exploring the new hiking trail around the area which lead behind the North and South Windows. We then stopped for a few minutes at the Welcome station to walk around and check out some of the displays before starting the long drive home.

It was a fantastic trip to Utah for us with many NEW events as well as some old favorites. First - we got to get a taste of Canyonlands as well as visit DeadHorse Point for the first time. We will definitely plan to visit them both again in the near future. Then we got to introduce 20+ hikers from our Albuquerque hiking group to Arches National Park. It was fun showing them around the various hikes and getting to social with everyone. It sounded like all of them had a great time on the trip, and many will be returning to Arches and Moab.