South Dakota - Wyoming - Utah Roadtrip Part 4

South Dakota -Wyoming - Utah Roadtrip

Part 4

(Arches National Park & Canyonlands National Park)

We enjoyed the city tour in Salt Lake City very much but were now looking forward to moving on to the next National Park to enjoy some time in nature. Years ago I had already visited Arches National Park together with my brother and was happy to share the great impressions of the park now with Pooneh. Our journey continued, first south over Interstate 15, and then further onto the US 191 through rather barren landscapes the almost 250 miles towards Moab. The last few miles before Moab, however, you could already see the first red rock formations and guess how spectacular the landscape would be once we reached Arches National Park.

When we arrived in Moab, it was still a reasonably bright day, so before we went to our hotel, we decided to drive in the direction of the nearby Canyonland National Park to await there halfway, at the "Dead Horse Point" the golden hour. We had already heard a lot about this spectacular viewpoint and it should actually become one of the highlights in this region! First, we turned into the small spur road to the state park, then from the parking lot, it was only a few steps to the canyon overlook.

The view over Canyonlands and the Colorado River flowing in the depth was indescribable. Numerous observers had already gathered at the overlook to watch the sunset at this epic place. After a short walk, we finally found a quiet place to enjoy the moment of the sun setting over the canyon. This is probably one of those places that you will not soon forget and will return to again and again.

In the dark, we drove the short distance back to Moab to the hotel to start the next morning, well-rested in our great adventure in Arches National Park. What we didn't know at this time was that the next day would start completely different than planned.

Day 6

Equipped for hiking, we finally made our way to Arches National Park in the morning to arrive at the main entrance at about 8:00 am. To our astonishment, at this time the park was already closed for further visitors because of overcrowding. It couldn't be more disappointing to see at the main road already a sign pointed out that the gates would be opened only in about 4 hours for more visitors.

Since we had planned some hikes in the park, we now had to show some flexibility and change our plans at short notice. In advance, I had heard of a hike to the "Corona Arch" which is located outside the National Park and was considered a secret tip. So we made us always drive along the Colorado River on the way to the trailhead. To our surprise, the parking lot was half empty and the way to the arch was only moderately frequented.

The hike led first flat over a railroad embankment to then in an adjacent canyon steeply rise. After crossing the canyon we reached an intermediate plateau with a beautiful view of the surrounding formations. The highlight was then the further ascent. Partly with the help of the wires and stairs, it went over quite a rough terrain.

With some effort, the 1.5-mile hike up to the arch was well manageable. Shortly after we had finished the climbing section, we had an absolutely rewarding view of the Corona Arch appearing in full splendor in front of us. At this time there were still few hikers on the road, so we could make out enough undisturbed photo spots.

Although the climb was quite tedious, we enjoyed our time up here and always found new exciting views of the Arch. Also, it was now time for our first break and to enjoy our brought snacks and drinks. The scenery and the view of the breathtaking "Corona Arch" offered the right ambiance to rest and relax before we made the descent towards the car.

It was early afternoon when we arrived back at the trailhead, and we were in the mood for coffee to recharge our batteries for the rest of the day's program. A short ride brought us back to the center of Moab where we enjoyed an iced coffee in the company of other hikers at a local coffee shop before we returned to our next ventures. The goal was now again the "Canyonlands National Park" with its numerous scenic points.

Not exaggerated - the ride was amazing. First, we went again in the direction of "Dead Horse Point Overlook", which we had already seen the day before, then further on the plateau from one overlook to the next with dramatic views of Canyonlands. Each overlook was unique and we couldn't get enough of seeing the canyon in different shades of light and from ever new perspectives.

However, we wanted to see the park not only by car but also collect even deeper impressions by hiking through Canyonlands. A short but highly recommended hike was halfway up the Grand View Point Road. The 0.8 mile-long trail to the "Mesa Arch" is one of the most popular and must-do hikes. It is an easy hike and at first rather unspectacular until it reveals the perfect view of and through the Arch.

Although "Mesa Arch" was a highlight of today, we could not stay too long at this epic place. The time was a bit tight because we wanted to avoid the crowd in the morning and still planned to visit Arches National Park the same day. Fortunately, at this time of year, the days are long and so we had enough time to visit Arches National Park today. To our surprise, the crowds were moderate at this time of day, so we got into the park without any significant delays.

First, we drove through numerous bizarre sandstone formations and enjoyed countless turnouts to soak up the scenery. Our destination, however, was the Delicate Arch Trailhead in the back third of the park. The trail to the arch leads over barren terrain steeply uphill and should be our last stop of the day. From the parking lot, the trail went flat to the "Wolf Ranch" before we took a small detour past petroglyphs painted in the rock. These paintings were made by Native Americans and date from 1650 A.D. - 1850 A.D.

Soon the initially flat trail turned into a steeper path, which led most of the time over a sandstone terrain smoothed by the wind. At least we were happy that at this time the sun was not so high in the sky anymore and the temperatures, compared to summer, were still bearable at this time of year. Nevertheless, we allowed ourselves some breathers on our way to enjoy the extraordinary landscape.

After a short but very strenuous climb over the sandstone and the final somewhat sketchy way around a rock shelf, then finally opened suddenly the view of the "Delicate Arch". The first sight was breathtaking, and could not even be spoiled by the annoying visitors who had to take pictures directly under the arch. All understandable that one would like to hold here his vacation memories. However, the overwhelming beauty of this view can hardly be captured in pictures and we just wanted to enjoy the moment up here.

Happy and quite exhausted from this packed day program, we made our way back. However, not without once again the view over the Delicate Arch to let wander. The descent was accordingly easy and we were happy after a short drive back to the hotel to close the actual part of our trip.

Day 7:

The next day it should then go on a day trip through the rest of Utah and Colorado, back to Denver. Our adventure road trip ends here and the next day our return flight to Fort Myers was waiting for us. We enjoyed this eventful week very much and are already looking forward to our next trips to other National Parks over the year.