Letter-Sized Adventures | Arches National Park

April 07, 2016

Early this spring, tired of the prolonged winter up North, we decided to take an impromptu trip down to Moab to get a bit of sun.  We spent two days in Arches National Park.  We saw most of the arches and other scenic landmarks in the southern part of the Park. We also went on a few of the hikes that were easy enough for our kids.

Despite becoming ill the second day of our trip, our oldest was a real trooper.  He loves the outdoors and hiking and said his favorite sites were Balanced Rock, The Windows and The Delicate Arch Viewpoint Hike.  Even our youngest, who is more of a homebody enjoyed himself.  He especially loved the Park Avenue hike, the visitor center and the interactive dinosaur trail.

We hope to return soon and stay at Devil's Garden Campground so that we can take in the rest of the sites in the Northern half of the park including the Landscape, Skyline, Sand Dune and Broken Arches.

Below is more info and photos of some of our favorite parts of this family adventure:

1. Park Avenue

Named for its resemblance to the famous New York City Street, the rock formations along this area of the park are truly unique.  There is a great viewpoint for photos, but we decided to hike the full length of the area between these formations.  This was a 2-mi hike round trip, but with the exception of the initial descent, for the most part it was pretty level. If you have more than one vehicle in your group you could turn this into a 1-mile shuttle hike.

2. The La Sal Mountain Range

We opted just to view the La Sal Mountains from the viewpoint area within Arches, as seen here.  However you can take a three hour drive along the The La Sal Mountain Loop Road Scenic Backway which follows the Colorado River and takes you into an entirely new set of surroundings.  We hope to make time for this drive on our next trip.

3. Balanced Rock

This iconic landmark is definitely one you'll want to see. We got out and walked around it capturing photos from all angles.  My favorite viewpoint was with the snow-capped La Sal Mountain range in the background.  And if you find just the right spot you can even play around with perspective and grab a shot of someone in your party holding the balanced rock on their shoulders.  See my scrapbook page "The Weight of The World" below ;)  

4. The Windows

This was one of those areas I think we could have spent all day exploring and might have if our oldest son hadn't fell ill. He kept trying to push on because he wanted to explore each of the four arches in this area up close.  Here we were really able to get a sense of the sheer size of these arches.  We walked through them and stood under them...looking far above us and below us (EEK). Here you can access the North and South Windows, the Turret Arch and The Double Arch all in a short distance.

5. Delicate Arch Viewpoint

At about a mile-and-a-half out and back this hike was shorter than the Park Avenue hike but I'd say there's a bit more climbing and descending.  That being said it's a good family-friendly hike. In fact, it was just right for our littles. And although it doesn't get you right up next to the arch as the other Delicate trails might, you'll see some beautiful 360 degree views and it gets you just close enough for some good photo opportunities.

6. Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail

The drive out to Mill Canyon was a fun little side trip, though I'm not sure I would recommend tackling it in early spring with a low-clearance vehicle like we did, as there were a few spots our small car almost got stuck. Nevertheless it was well worth the worry. This was by far both boys favorite part of the trip. Being able to walk up to the dinosaur bones and see them up close in their natural setting was really very cool. And it was a good learning experience for our boys...because a place like this only continues to exist when we respect nature and history.

7. The Moab Sunset

Perhaps one of our favorite things to see while visiting the park, was the beautiful Moab sunsets.  My youngest son replied, "Hey look its like someone painted the sky!" INDEED. You'll definitely want to plan to be outdoors around sunset, it is truly a sight to be seen!

8. The Arches National Park Visitor Center

So my youngest son LOVES museums.  He loves to take in all of the facts and the displays and the visual aides.  He loves learning about the rocks and the animals and the history of a region, so for him the Visitor's Center was a huge hit.  If you have kids who seem to love soaking up any fact they can wrap their little brains around then your family will probably enjoy it as much as we did.  You can also stamp your National Parks Passport while you're there!

9. Moab Rock Shop

This rock shop was AWESOME! The boys each had $20.00 to spend on the trip and they spent more than half of it on you guessed it...ROCKS! They had lots of different kinds of rocks to choose from including  minerals, fossils, petrified wood, geodes, etc. And inside they have a very cool collection of fossils, bones, and semi-precious stones. Definitely worth checking out if your kids are into rocks!

10. Moab Coffee Roasters

We really liked this little coffee shop.  Not only was the coffee good but they also have a great selection of homemade gelatos. If you can't decide on a flavor I recommend their Pistachio...YUM!

We can't wait to head back this summer and visit the rest of the park.  In the meantime I'm enjoying reliving our trip thru my memory keeping.  Here are a few scrapbook pages inspired by our trip.

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