Arches NP > Goblin Valley SP > Capitol Reef NP
I’ll admit, I made a strategic error with my lodging accommodations in Moab. When I settled in to stealth car-camp in the hotel parking lot at 9:30 PM, it was still 100F. I swear it stayed that way until about 3:00 AM. I know this because I was still awake then, bemoaning my foolishness. I knew the days were going to be a wee bit warm, but I didn’t think about my inability to sleep while sweating myself to death. If temps are like this in the future, I'll be renting a cheap hotel with powerful A/C instead of torturing my poor body.
Due to my lack of a good night sleep, I decided to skip sunrise in Arches National Park - I just couldn't do it. I did get a few short hikes in, though (before the burning sun chased me on down the road).
A little background about Arches NP...the park contains over 2000 naturally forming arches. Arches are a temporary geologic feature - they are just one of several stages of erosion. The sandstone starts by developing cracks which erode to create long "fins" > fins then erode to form "arches" > the arches fall and form tall, skinny "spires" > and the spires crumble to create a flat plain. Since I know all arches fall, I feel blessed to be able to visit so many of them at our moment in history. :)
BTW...none of the photos below have been altered. The sky is really that color of electric blue. It's the same color every time I visit.
My first stop was Balanced Rock - always makes me feel so intimidated to stand right under it.
The North and South Windows is cool since you can get a photo of both at the same time.
Double Arch is my favorite arch in the park since it just looks so unique.
I love this image of the Moab fault line. It clearly shows the powerful shifting of rocks below the surface.
After leaving Arches, I drove through Utah’s desolate landscape until I got to Goblin Valley State Park. I had heard of this place, but never gotten a chance to visit. By this time, it was the middle of the day, so the blazing sun was pumping out 100+ temps. I wanted to do at least one hike, so I decided to douse myself with water from head to toe, then head out into the valley. It was perfect. The wind evaporation kept me very cool as I took advantage of the trail-free valley and wandered around the crazy rock formation to my heart’s content. I know I’m not the first person to think of this - but I kinda felt brilliant in the moment.
This park was wild - all the crazy melted toadstool shapes looked like Smurf Town. There have been a few films shot in the park - probably the most infamous being, “Galaxy Quest.” I’ve seen it many times and always remember watching the rock creature scene and thinking the art department could have made a more realistic background. Turns out - it was nature just showing off its wacky side. Sorry for the barrage of photos - I just loved them all.
Even with a self-made air conditioning system, I was still starting to drag under the heat, so I was happy to hop back in my car’s A/C and head on down the road. (Heat is my kryptonite when it comes to physical activity.)
My next adventure was a road trip through Capitol Reef National Park. I do this drive with guests when I’m guiding. It’s a pretty spectacular combination of white rocks, red rocks, and mountain passes.
I stopped at a little pie shop called Gifford House to see if they had any left this late in the afternoon. They didn’t, but they did have some strawberry-rhubarb jam, so I snagged myself a jar of that.
PBJ Burritos (patent pending) are my go-to picnic food when I’m not heating water in my mini stove. I choose the burrito style since I don’t like bread crust (but I can’t stand to throw away food, so I eat the crust anyway). Plus, I don’t have to worry about squishing my tortillas - they come pre-squished.
As I continued on, I met up with Scenic Byway 12 - an extremely scenic section of road which extends from Capitol Reef NP > Grand Staircase-Escalante NM > Bryce Canyon NP. Lots more rock formations to ooh and aah over. I stopped at my favorite lookout along the route and popped the hatchback from some chill-with-a-view time.
The further I went down the road toward Bryce Canyon, the more punchy from tiredness I got. The lack of sleep the night before and the hot hiking had really taken a toll on me. I was still an hour outside of Bryce when I started getting the open-jaw, full-body shimmy yawns and knew I should probably call it quits for the day. I opened the Campendium app and found a free BLM campsite just up the way. I had the place all to myself for the night and immediately crashed hard even though it was only 6:30 PM.