I just got back from a grand road trip through Arizona & Utah. I flew from SFO down to SNA to meet up with three good, photography loving friends from SoCal. We packed up the minivan with too many cameras, a bunch of sleeping bags & tents & food, & more poofy jackets than I can normally even stand to look at. (No really, I looked like a marshmallow the whole time!)
We didn’t stop in Arches the first night of our trip (that was Goblin Valley, post coming soon!), but it was one of my favorite stops of the trip.
Pictured both above & below is delicate arch, one of the most famous of the alleged 2,000 arches in the park & the famous landmark that made it on to most of the Utah license plates (very cool).
The first look (above) is from a more distant viewing point, while the second one, below includes a hike almost right up to the arch itself.
The snow everywhere was absolutely stunning. It was freezing when you stood around & hung out, but the second I started hiking & got going, I warmed right up & was shedding layers like it was summer time. Of course, the cold bites you right away when you stop again, but make sure you layers can be taken off as easily as they are put back on again!
It’s a funny story, but when we hiked up to the closer Delicate Arch for sunset (it’s lit by the moon in the above photo), the snow was packed down into pathways in a number of different directions. I knew the general way, but I must have veered off on a separate track because instead of coming out at the viewing point, I could see everybody gathered & doing the viewing, but couldn’t see the darn arch for the life of me.
& that’s when my shoe broke. More on that later, but I ended up having to get half dragged up the remainder of the trail (my shoe kept slipping) & held up the entire trail home. I had zero traction on my left foot, with the sole of my shoe flapping around like there’s no tomorrow. Anyways, like I said: More on that later.
The funny part is that when my shoe broke, I was stranded. I was within shouting distance of my friends at the arch & I could see a number of people oohing & aaaahing, but I could only see a few large rock formations & no dang arch. Bummer I thought, as the gorgeous sun sunk below the horizon & the last of the golden light left the red rocks, too bad I can’t see it from here.
Shortly afterwards though, I realized (with a little help from my friends) that I was literally standing at the BASE of the famous arch but had no idea because I was situated right next to it because I was bumped up against the side & it just looked like a (very very) large rock. Hah!
Anyways. *rolls eyes at self*
As a California coastal girl, I am definitely not used to seeing snow at all – I think it’s been years since I’ve spent some serious time in it at all – but tramping through it for a week was one of the most magical things. I loved how the snow piles up around the plants & gives everything that bright NEW feeling. So winter-y & special.
Snow is lovely, but it’s just something else seeing the snow all over the red rocks. Beautiful, right?
I’ve been to Utah one other time – when I was ten or eleven my parents & I took a roadtrip around Utah & Arizona in the summer. We stopped at Bryce Canyon (where we almost got hit by lightening!!!) & spent a number of days hiking through Zion. I was impressed then with the red rocks – as a small person I told everybody who would listen that it looked to me like a red Yosemite. I don’t think that’s quite the case, but the thought is the same & you still come home with red dust all over the soles of your shoes. For days & days & days.
Check out those icicles though! These weren’t even the largest we saw while we camped (those had to be ones I spotted in our campsite at Goblin Valley), but they’re still pretty darn serious!
One of the craziest things to me was breaking one of these & then seeing it still in perfect chards the next day. I know I’m not used to snow & ice & freezing temperatures when I expect the ice to melt overnight into a little puddle… our water bottles froze at night & took all day in the sunshine + some vigorous shaking to become drinkable again.
Thanks for the beautiful adventures, Arches! I’ll be back in the summer for some hot (too hot!) red rock adventures & (hopefully) some stunning sunsets & star filled night skies!
Come on! Don’t you want more of those gorgeous arches?! Stunning, right?!
VISIT / There are 50 campsites available at the Devil’s Garden Campsite. You should reserve ahead of time during the busy season (March-October), but while we were there (December) we had the campsite to ourselves. Stay in Moab & drive into the park if you don’t want to camp. Get more details on fees & reservations or camping in Arches right here.
I recommend the Lazy Lizard Hostel for an unlimited hot shower ($3 for a shower ticket + $0.50 to rent a towel). I imagine it’s also a good place to stay if you’re looking for a cheap dorm to spend the night in – I would reserve ahead of time when possible & especially during the busy season.
// See more from the big Über Trip 2013 (that was our moniker for the whole roadtrip haha) right here, more from Moab (ish) here, & more from Utah in general right here. It’s a good area of the USA for some seriously beautiful outdoor exploring. 🙂
* All images by Simone Anne. Please do not reproduce without permission. Thanks! 🙂