Trip Start Mar 28, 2013
56Trip End Jul 31, 2013
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We saw some pronghorn deer by the side of the highway and some prairie dogs for the first time on our drive to Moab. As we pulled into the KOA there was a beautiful rainbow set across all the red mountains around us. It was a wonderful welcome!
Moab was a great town catering to all the outdoor enthusiasts visiting Arches National Park which was only 5 minutes away and Canyonlands National Park which was half an hour away. There was a lot of outdoor adventure tourist companies and outdoor adventure stores. The boys had noticed a lot of people wearing Camelbaks (a backpack for water that has a large straw for your mouth). They have been doing so great with all of our hiking we decided to encourage them by letting them each pick a Camelbak. They are great as they each hold 70oz of water and keep your hands free for climbing, perfect for Arches. With some of the heat we've been experiencing, drinking lots of water has been important. They were totally excited to get hiking to try out their new bags.
Arches National Park was extremely impressive. The red rocks were so amazing to see and the formations which were shaped by nature were fantastic. To top things off not only are you able to see these natural wonders but you have the opportunity to climb inside them. The boys (I include Bruce in this term) were totally psyched to get climbing. We did stop at the Visitor center on the way in to get hiking information and we were surprised to find out the park is open 24 hours. The Park Ranger said some people come and watch the sunset then hike back with their flashlights. Pretty cool!
A lot of the hikes were around a mile in length so we were able to do a few. We arrived later in the day when it had cooled off a bit and some storm clouds had started to roll in. We never got any rain until that night but the clouds made a really neat backdrop behind the arches. The first hike was called Park Avenue because it felt like you were in New York City but the tall buildings were replaced by very tall red rocks. You could get dropped off at one end and get picked up down the road at the other end. Aimee and Caleb did this one on their own and were blown away by the views. The trail had "cairns" (rocks stacked on top of each other) to mark the route and because we were walking on rock you had to pay close attention to the cairns to avoid getting lost. All you could see for miles were the tall red rock formations around you. It was really nice to have time just the two of us.
We all hiked to the North and South Windows and the Turret Arch. It didn't take the boys long to climb right inside the arches and we couldn't believe how windy it was, maybe because of the storm coming. Climbing up into the Cove of Caves and Double Arch was a little harder and Bruce was the only one that made it all the way inside the arch. He said the other side was a very steep drop down. Just as glad it was so windy not allowing the boys to venture up further! We didn't do the actual hike that went to the Delicate Arch because it would have taken us too long so we hiked to the viewpoint instead. It was beautiful and the boys still found some big boulders to climb up on while Clare hid in the little caves underneath. The last place we visited was the Sand Dune Arch which is most popular with children. Upon arriving you squeeze through a small opening in between 2 gigantic rocks. Once you get inside it is like a giant red sandbox. There is only the one passage in and out so the kids could run and explore throughout without us needing to worry about them getting lost. Everyone was extremely hungry for our very late dinner that night!
The next morning we drove to Canyonlands National Park. The Visitors Center lent us a great guide book for the boys to read either before or during each hike giving neat information about all of the trails and the areas around them. It also suggested questions to discuss with your family as you were hiking about different things you can see or do around that part of the park. The Parks have some really great programs geared for kids that we've been so glad to be able to participate in.
The first hike we did was to Whale Rock which literally looked like a gigantic whale. The boys were impressed that we were actually going to be able to climb right on top of it. Clare walked the 1 mile to the top as we followed the cairns and we were rewarded with a beautiful view of the park.
We took the scenic drive stopping at the Green River Overlook, the Buck Canyon Overlook, and the Grand View Point Overlook. All amazing. Next we hiked the 1.8 miles to the 1st and 2nd outlooks of Upheaval Dome. Some of the climbing was up fairly steep rock and Clare made the whole hike walking on her own. What a trooper she is! We stopped at the top and had a snack break and enjoyed looking down into the huge dome which they think may have been created from a meteor. On the way down tons of people were congratulating Clare for being such a good hiker. Before we left we did one more short half mile hike to the Mesa Arch. When we arrived at the arch we were surprised to see a man standing right on top of It. The boys immediately asked if they could do this too and we said if they could get up there that would be fine. That was until we got closer and realized the other side of the arch was a cliff with a huge drop to the canyon floor. To our relief they both quickly changed their minds about climbing up and couldn't believe someone else would do that.
We really enjoyed both National Parks near Moab but would have to say of all the National Parks we have visited, Arches was by far everyone's favourite. There was so much to explore there and it felt like an adventure was just waiting for you. The views were so beautiful and we've never seen anything like it before. Next time we'll have to bring our flashlights and watch the sunset then find out what it's like after dark!