Utah is home to some of the most stunning National Parks—or so I’ve heard.
Before this trip, I’d never actually been to a National Park. Actually, I think I went to the Grand Canyon once as a child. But for my conscious, decision-making adult self, the Arches and Canyonlands were the first two National Parks I made the plans and the effort to go see.
The decision to visit these parks was actually a pretty spontaneous one. I was making my way into Utah from Colorado Springs (I have a couple of posts published last month dedicated to my Colorado Springs trip), when I realized I could spare a day on the drive into Salt Lake City. I had heard about the National Park-presence in southern Utah, so after some logistical considerations, I made the decision to take the detour down.
Visiting the Arches made the most sense with my timing, so I headed over there first. I didn’t know much about this National Park apart from the beautiful views I’d seen on Instagram and other media sites, but if those pictures were to be minded, I knew the visit definitely wasn’t going to be a waste. And boy was I right.
I had arrived at the park a little later in the morning, so I knew I would probably only have time to hike one or two trails. Naturally, I picked what I thought to be the most popular—the Delicate Arch trail.
The hike itself wasn’t very difficult at all. There were some slight inclines and a pretty narrow path shared between troves of people climbing up and down to see the arch, but for the most part a family-friendly hike.
Since the Delicate Arch is one of the more popular sights to see at the Arches, you will definitely run into more than a few groups of hikers. When I reached the top, the main area in front of and below the arch was littered with people. So in these times, it still remains that you should be careful how closely you interact with people in areas like this (it should be said that I wore my mask the entire time I was hiking minus in the few pictures I stared in).
Another thing, I think is worth noting about this climb—it can get pretty cold. Granted, I did visit in the fall/winter months, so cold weather was to be expected. But I would definitely pack an extra jacket if you’re as prone to shivers as I am. I think the altitude of the arch also has an impact on the weather, so keep that in mind.
Overall, so worth the climb and the views—I even sat at the top of the cliff to soak in the views after I had taken all my pictures (and to try and regain some feeling in my fingers).
After my descent, I had a quick lunch and the figured I could probably squeeze in another hike before I had to make the drive up to Salt Lake City. Or I could go visit another National Park.
I’m a big advocate of seeing and doing as much variety as I can in any given area. So I decided to make the 30-minute drive to Canyonlands National Park just a little bit after noon, and I witnessed some pretty stunning views on the drive there alone.
I didn’t know as much about Canyonlands as I did about Arches—which admittedly wasn’t that much either, but at least I had those Instagram shots as a base of what to expect. I didn’t have anything like that when it came to visiting Canyonlands. So when I got to the Visitor’s Center, I picked up a map and sort of just picked the hike that I thought would yield some pretty cool views without taking too long to do, since I will had to drive to Salt Lake City later that night. If I had had service at this point, I think I would’ve probably done the Mesa Arch trail—that seems to be the most popular one, especially during the sunset, which I was there for.
I ended up doing the Murphy Point trail. Still some really cool views. And most of the hike was more of a walk—no big rocks to climb over, just 3.4 miles of fairly even ground. The first mile or so is just sand surrounded by plains, so it even felt like I was walking by a beach. Another easy and beautiful adventure to jot down for your to-do list.
Let me know what you thought of my spontaneous National Parks tour. And share some of your favorite U.S. National Parks too! I know I want to visit at least five this year, but I’m so welcome to seeing as many as I can!
Next month I’ve got a trip planned for western Arkansas—Fayetteville-area—so if any of you are from around there, leave your tips and tricks of places I should see and things I should do too!
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