Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Arches National Park - Part Two - Las Vegas and Utah - May 2019

Las Vegas/Utah Trip Overview

Another early morning.  Dave rope-dropped the hotel’s free breakfast and found they only served instant coffee out of a machine. Yuck!   Good news:  they had Froot Loops.

There was no line to get into the park at 6:30AM, and no admission to pay either.  We made our way passed the turn off for The Windows to see the back-half of the park, starting with Delicate Arch.   

The lot was already getting full with people making the trek up to the arch.  We decided not to do the hike for two reasons:  The guide map listed the hike as strenuous and we were not confident in our abilities yet, and we had a tour later in the day and wanted to make sure we fit everything into the day. Fortunately there was a real short hike to view the arch from a distance and as a bonus there were petroglyphs in the area.   Delicate Arch is on the Utah license plate and kinda the unofficial symbol of the state.  

More from Holly in Nature series

There were people milling around the arch.  Dave erased them for the photo.

Following the main road we made our way to the Fiery Furnace viewpoint.  The GyPSi guide told us about guided tours through the maze of rock stacks.  Sounded fun for another trip.   After that, we stopped to take a 2+ mile round trip walk to Sand Arch and Broken Arch. 

Sand Arch

Broken Arch

On the way out we saw Skyline Arch before making our way to Devil’s Garden.   This was a fun area to spend a bit of time in.   Hikers walk in through a narrow pass in two large rocks.  The path goes up and down some rolling hills with some stunning sites along the way.  Our favorite was Landscape Arch.

Skyline Arch

Landscape Arch

Tunnel Arch

Pine Tree Arch

After that tour we headed into town and checked in early for our afternoon tour with Navtec.  We trusted the person working the desk for a local’s lunch recco: Love Muffin Cafe.  The coffeehouse/sandwich shop made everything from scratch.  Holly’s turkey sandwich was real carved turkey - not cold cuts.  

A few weeks before leaving home we booked a 4x4 trek through the back portion of Arches. Navtec usually picks up guests from their hotels.  We decided to go to their office to save time.   Our driver was a little late but no big deal.  After getting in the Jeep we went to the gas station so he could fill up and then we picked up two more guests - a couple a little older than us from The O.C..   We had no idea that Arches had a very popular off-road section (in the top left section of the map on the top of the post).   We toured Marching Men, Tower Arch, and Eye of the Whale.  The guide showed us some preserved dinosaur foot prints.

Dinosaur track

One thing we learned from our guide: 401(K)s and IRAs are important.  He told us he spent his whole life in nature as a guide and generally hiking and camping.  Now in his 70’s he needed to keep working just to clear a few bucks each month.  

We ran into a few drizzles but the skies in the distance made it look worse. 

The guide must have liked us because he got us back to town much later than we were supposed to finish our tour.   After a quick cleanup we checked out Eddie McStiff’s for a beer.  There were 8-10 Utah beers on tap and, as a bonus, The Force Awakens was on TV.   Dinner tonight was at Antica Forma - a wood-fired pizza place.  We made reservations earlier in the day but decided to take a few empty bar seats.   More Utah beers on tap.  We had some great pizzas, including one with pistachios.   After dinner we went to the BBQ joint next to our hotel for a prickly pear (cactus fruit) margarita.  Our guide said they made a good one....   We’d say they made an okay one.  Here’s where Utah needs to get with the times.  Mixed drinks get a measured shot of liquor and that’s it.  When pouring into everywhere-else sized glasses you get a bad mix/liquor ratio and everything ends up tart and sweet.  Stick with beer.

That put a wrap on our visit to Arches and Moab.   The next morning we would be on our way to Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and our glamping experience.  

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