After Telluride we decided to return to Utah knowing that there was still much left to explore and discover. The small town of Moab is a bustling little place central to several popular national parks. As we learned from our previous visit to the state, Utah is incredibly scenic in a surreal, should-we-pinch-ourselves kind of way. If you ever wondered what it would be like to traverse another planet, Utah is the closest you will get to finding out what it's like.
Goblin Valley National Park
The structures here, known as Hoodoos or Goblins, formed 40-70 million years ago from sand erosion caused by a nearby ancient sea. What is left are endless mushroom like structures that are happily climbed and photographed. In the formations you will spot faces, animals, and even um, penises (sorry, this is too obvious to avoid!). The kids loved climbing the rocks and finding hidden trails and caves. This park is a dream of a playground for young and old alike.
We arrived to the park around 10:30am and the parking lot was almost full. By the time we left there was a line to enter. I suggest arriving as early as possible. Once you park you can freely explore the goblins. I believe there are some hiking trails as well but to be in the thick of the experience just walk around at your own volition and marvel at nature's bountiful beauty!
For lunch we ate at the most delicious Mexican restaurant called Tacos La Pasadita. We researched well reviewed restaurants in advance so we knew this would be a good lunch option but we didn't know just how delicious it would be. They don't have a menu. Instead, they have made to order customized burritos, tacos, quesadillas and basic Mexican bites with not so basic flavors. We each ordered our own tailored burritos that were so yummy we literally each groaned with delight at each bite. The tortilla makes the dish- it is so fresh and buttery. Never did we think we would find such a great lunch spot in a converted gas station in the middle of Green River, Utah. This is a must dining stop when needing a quick bite between park explorations.
Dead Horse Point State Park
Dead Horse is another other-worldly stop but with a drastically different landscape. We opted to walk along the trail between Meander Outlook and Dead Horse Point Outlook. At 5,900 feet high there are the most glorious views of the canyons and Colorado River below. Legend has it that Cowboys use to wrangle the native mustangs and corral them by the river. They would select the horses they wanted to keep and leave the unwanted ones behind, tied, dying of thirst while staring at the Colorado River. Gosh, why are humans so cruel? They could have just untied the horses they didn't want.
For lodging we stayed at Hoodoo Moab Curio Collection by Hilton. The location is fantastic and we really liked the retro-modern décor in neutral desert colors. The food we ordered from their restaurant exceeded our expectations. Evenings were lively with outdoor music playing and many folks enjoying the outdoor bar. My husband and I had a nice break from the kiddos for two nights. The hotel wasn't able to accommodate us with connecting rooms so while the kids were down the hall we enjoyed our outdoor terrace overlooking the crowd while practicing social distancing and still feeling like we were part of the party.
Arches National Park
We woke up early to see this beautiful park at sunrise, which wasn't until 7:38am, making it easy to wake up at a pretty reasonable time since the park isn't too far from the hotel. Driving through the park to reach the Delicate Arch Trail as the sun started to slowly light up the dark sky was such a beautiful treat. As a family, we never experienced the sunrise together before.
When we arrived at 7:15am the parking lot was already almost full. Many others shared the same goals as us. I can understand why. The landscape changing colors as the sun wakes up is simply something unforgettable.
The hike is a moderate one with an incline of 600 feet through vistas of canyons, smooth rocks, deep sand and narrow, high ledges that got my heart pumping a little faster as I quickly crossed them. After approximately 1.5 miles of trails we reached the arch. Needless to say, we were blown away by its' beauty. We kept wondering what it was like for the first explorer that trekked through this vast area to discover this magical site and then share his/her findings with the rest of us. Whoever it was, thank you. Thank you for sharing this little piece of heaven with all humanity and not keeping it for yourself. Thank you for allowing us to experience nature at her finest once again.
At the base of the trail there is a historic abandoned home and a trail with petroglyphs. Make sure not miss this in all of the excitement to get to the arch.
We knew some bad weather was approaching later in the day and were surprised by nature's angry winds arriving earlier than expected. Because the trail near the arch is on a pretty high and narrow trail and the wind gusts felt like they were toying with the idea of blowing some folks around, we quickly turned around hoping to arrive back to our car before the skies released their rains. Luckily we made it just in time! We were planning to visit the Canyonlands afterwards but changed our itinerary in hopes of avoiding bad weather. Ironically, as we drove West to St. George, five hours away, we quickly learned that Nature has her own way of doing things and whatever she has in mind is unavoidable. Out of nowhere we got hit by a mini snow storm full of hail, snow, ice and the whole shebang. Within five hours we went from 67 degree temperatures, with plenty of sunshine, to unrelenting winds and freezing temperatures. What an adventure!
I realize how lucky we are to have this tremendous opportunity to discover the USA together. Not a moment goes by where I don't reflect on the experiences we are sharing together as a family. I honestly don't know how I will return to "real life" at the end of this road trip journey. Being with my crew this long has turned me into a social hermit. They fulfill me with everything I need. They are all I need. They are the sunrise of my days; the sunshine, the storms, the wind, and the sunsets too. They have become even more encapsulated in the air I breath, the dreams I dream and the thoughts I think. How will I let this dreamy, unreal experience go? I realize that despite how long the road trip lasts, it will come to an end. All things do. For now, I will just keep following them wherever they go. This too will end. One day they'll turn around and ask for some space. As the days and sights begin to blur, I will continue to focus on the one thing that is crystal clear: we must, along with Gods help, live our best lives and realize our dreams. Like the weather in Utah, anything can and will change at any moment. I will continue to maximize the fleeting moments for as long as I can.
Utah is filled with a myriad of National Parks that showcase Nature in all her glory. You can easily spend an entire month here. Off we go to explore one last part of this stunning state!