While discussing my trip out to Las Vegas, a colleague at the convention recommended visiting the Moab and Arches National Park. So, knowing I wanted to take the "long way home," I headed out to Moab. Since I was there by early evening, I decided to eat dinner at La Hacienda, a popular local spot. The food was pretty good, but service could be better. Since it is popular, it took a while to be seated and then forty-five minutes to get my food because a party of 12 ordered before me and the kitchen was handling their order. (https://www.facebook.com/lahamoab) That said, Moab is a quant town and I feel it calling me back to spend more time there.
I arrived at the Arches National Park very early the next morning - so early that I didn't pay an entrance fee since the entrance booths were not yet staffed. Feeling somewhat guilty that I hadn't supported our beautiful national parks, I quickly moved on as I had limited time and could only do one hike. It was very overcast with occasional light rain so I decided to do the signature feature of the park - Delicate Arch. The hike is approximately 1.5 miles long and is moderately difficult for a flat-lander due to the elevations. The beginning of the trail is gravel and easy to follow. As this section becomes smooth rock pathways, there are cairns (stacks of rocks) and occasional signs pointing to the Arch. Pay close attention to the cairns as it easy to lose the trail - I speak from experience.
Once I arrived at Delicate Arch, I had to cut my visit short as the winds were extremely high and the skies were looking threatening.
Delicate ArchAmazing what nature makes. 1/100 sec @ f/10, ISO 100
After only a few minutes at the Arch, I descended down the trail to the parking lot. My original plan was to drive the road around the rest of the park and make my way to my next destination. However, I saw a four-wheel drive trail and decided to try it out. Why else do I drive a Jeep? It started out as a fairly easy dirt road, but soon turned into a fairly technical four-wheel drive experience. It was wonderful to get off the road and see parts of the park that relatively few get to see, but I only recommend it if you have a lifted four-wheel drive and some experience.
As I left the park, I stopped at “Balanced Rock" (https://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/balancedrock.htm), a must-see in the area.
As I turned back towards Texas, I visited Valley of the Gods. The weather was not friendly for this part of my trip as the clouds rolled in and I experienced a mix of light rain and snow. This did not allow a very good photography experience, so I used it as an excellent scouting mission for my next visit. If you’re considering a trip to this area, I would recommend a drive through the Valley. It’s an easy dirt road to drive with great vistas. If you have any questions on this area, leave a note in the comments below and I’ll give you more details about the drive through the Valley.
Valley of the GodsA place to return to, 1/40 sec @ f/11, ISO 100
Over the next couple of days I drove across far north New Mexico toward Taos and ended up running into some pretty heavy spring snow storms. It is beautiful county and I'll have to make that drive again when I have more time.
The Return HomeThe view from the front seat Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or any suggestions for places to visit the next time I'm in this area.