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Cross-Country Road Trip Day 13: Arches National Park

This was New Year’s Eve. I woke up in the morning with a scratchy throat, the first sign that for the rest of the trip, I was going to be sick.

When I was trying to decide where to stop in Utah, I picked Arches from the bunch of awesome-looking National Parks because it looked like the smallest, and I thought we might be able to see most of it in less than a day. We did manage to fit in almost all of the major highlights, but we still wished we could have stayed longer. Especially since we didn’t get to do any real hiking.

We stopped at the Visitors Center to get a stamp for our National Parks passport. We do actually have an official passport and everything, but we almost always forget to bring it. I usually end up getting the stamps on scrap paper and pasting them in later. This trip was no exception.

The Visitors Center also showed photos of the hiking trails to give you an idea of what the conditions are like, and the trails looked worryingly icy.

moab not ca

We stopped at all of the park’s greatest hits:

Arches NP

The Organ and Courthouse Towers

Arches NP

Three Gossips

Arches NP

Balanced Rock

Arches NP

The Windows

Arches NP

Turret Arch

Some of the paths were icy, especially around the Windows. I was glad we were there in the winter, though, because I can only imagine how hot and crowded this park gets in the summertime.

We stopped at Delicate arch, and first went to the lower observation point, which still pretty far away from the arch. We decided to do the short hike up to the upper observation point. This trail wasn’t icy, but halfway through it turned into mud. Bright red mud, deep enough that our hiking boots sunk in over soles, and we had to fight to pull our feet out of it. We made it to the top, only to discover that the upper observation point was not all that much closer than the lower observation point. I took the photo below from the upper observation point, and Delicate is still pretty tiny.

Arches NP

We wished we had time to hike up to Delicate Arch, but we did not.

After Delicate, we drove up the rest of the way to the Devils Garden area, stopping along the way to take photos at some of the rock formations. At Devils Garden, we parked and hiked in a little bit. By this time clouds were covering up the bright blue skies we’d had in the morning.

Arches NP

So we decided to leave and get on the road. We stopped back in Moab at the Moab Diner for a late lunch before we left. Mike promised Moab we would definitely return. I drove us out of Moab, a little deflated. The rest of the trip was mostly going to be driving after this. Arches was the last big stop we had planned. We did have a few new states to look forward to, but not much besides that.

On the road to Denver after lunch, I started to feel the need to stop at a bathroom. However, Utah did not cooperate.

no services

I wasn’t able to find anything until after we crossed into Colorado. By the time we did stop, it was a pretty desperate situation. I joked that I was holding a slight grudge against Utah for that last leg of the our trip in the state.


By the time we got to the ski areas of Colorado, it was after dark. For some reason before the trip, I was really apprehensive about driving this section. I thought for sure we would have horrible weather and I was worried about the roads. I should have known that any highway that goes to some of the best ski resorts in the country would be kept in decent shape. We had clear weather, and the roads were better in Colorado than they were in Utah. I wished we could have seen the towns as we passed by them. One of the most annoying things about a winter road trip was the limited amount of daylight.

We stayed in a suburb of Denver, and by the time we reached it and started looking around for a restaurant, many were closing up for New Year’s. We managed to find a pizza place near our hotel that was still open. Since we come from what may be the epicenter of pizza on the East Coast, we were not sure what to expect, but we agreed that the pizza was not bad at all.

denver nye

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