5 Feb
Posted in: travel
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Take a Trip: Arches National Park

This year is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. There are over 400 entities run by the NPS. I’ll share tips from different National Park Service sites we’ve visited throughout 2016.

This winter is relentless. There’s been snow on the ground for months, and it’s part of the permanent forecast these days. You know there’s a lot of snow when your son’s Nordic ski team can’t practice because they aren’t able to get up the mountain. It’s that kind of week. I’m choosing to trust the groundhog that spring will come early despite the foot of snow on my lawn, but I feel like he’s toying with us.

view of La Sal Mountains from Arches National Park

I’ve been planning our spring break adventure for 2016, and trip planning makes me nostalgic for past vacations. One of our top spring break trips is to the area around Moab, Utah, specifically Arches National Park. The park is located minutes from Moab and is a perfect spring destination. That area becomes furnace hot during the summer. We’ve been in Arches twice in early March and have hiked in trace snow, but nothing extreme and definitely not cold temperatures.

snow covered red rock in Arches National Park

We enjoy driving to our vacation destinations. Moab is less than nine hours from our home, which makes it a doable one-day drive and a great destination for a few days of vacation. The area around Moab is breathtaking. Red rocks, canyons, arches and natural bridges are major features in the landscape. It’s an outdoor lovers paradise. We’re those people. We, occasionally, visit an amusement park destination, but a hiking trail is my happy place.

drive through Arches National Park

dad and daughter with stone arch in background

Arches National Park is home to over 2,000 stone arches and various other rock formations. Arches are caused by weather. Natural bridges are formed by running water. The driving route through the park is 18 miles long. First-time visitors should include the entire auto tour on their visit. The views never get old.

Park Avenue at Arches National Park

The Park Avenue Trail is a two-mile round-trip trek through a canyon of pinnacle rocks and fins. It’s a unique area of the park that doesn’t focus on arches. Visitors short on time or energy should walk part of the trail to get an idea of the enormity of the rock landscape. There’s a viewing area for the La Sal Mountains to the east of the park. It’s one of my favorite views with contrasting red rocks up close and snow-capped mountains in the distance.

walking to the Windows Section of Arches National Park

The Windows Section of Arches National Park is an ideal hiking destination for visitors with children. There are several hikes in this general area offering different angles on three massive arches. The Windows Trail is a one-mile round trip leading to the three arches. The half-mile Double Arch Trail is flat and takes you to the tallest arch in the park. During our spring visits we’ve been blessed with no crowds or parking issues. Our kids adore the trails in the Windows Sections. There are a few stairs and sandy ground in spots, but nothing difficult or steep. The arches look large from a distance but are massive when you’re standing directly under or in the window.

balancing rock at Arches National Park

If you’re familiar with the image of an arch on Utah’s vehicle license plates, that arch can be found in Arches National Park. The Delicate Arch Trail is listed as a strenuous three-mile hike. There are also two short viewpoint hikes for those not wanting to make the trek to the arch.

Massive arch in Arches National Park

The longest arch in North America, Landscape Arch, is also located in Arches. The hike to the arch is less than two miles covering mostly flat ground. There are two shorter trails, Tunnel and Pine Tree, before you reach Landscape Arch. The arch appears camouflaged as you approach, before taking shape exposing its narrow grandeur.

four children standing under an arch in Arches National Park

I don’t like to visit the same place twice. There are far too many travel destinations on my list to take the time to see the same place over and over. Arches is an exception to my rule. I’d gladly explore the area surrounding Moab a third time. If only there were more vacation days to use.

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