We've had a long September-October-November and needed to get away on a family vacation. Mike and I have been traveling every single week for the last seven weeks, barely seeing each other since September. We found a deal on a hotel in Moab and headed out for a nice three-day family vacation together.
The kids have never been to Arches or Canyonlands National Parks, and they're just the right age to enjoy the 3-4 mile hikes to each of the sites. November is a perfect time to go because it isn't scorching hot. There was a little snow and a bit of a breeze in the mornings and afternoons, but the 30-40 degree weather was perfect for hiking. We had fun doing some trail running, too, while the other tourists thought we were crazy. Alexander called it "parkour" running. They invented a game where the sand and dirt was lava and they could only jump on rocks or wood. I had fun trying it out with them, but my ankles were sure sore the next day! They always came back to the car with a bundle of sticks and multi-colored rocks. It's precious how children treasure the earth and the simplest things. James found an old weathered piece of wood shaped like a his grandpa's welding blow torch. Alexander found a dagger and sawed-off shotgun. Elena had a bow and arrow, with a grass string. All had pockets full of translucent potash and blue sandstone. We ended up hiking a total of fifteen miles over two days.
The acoustics in Double Arch were amazing. Alexander sang a full rendition of Bumble Bee warm ups and they all launched into a harmonized version of "Let It Go" from Frozen. As we were heading back to the car, incoming hikers commented to me, with a wink, "Is this what was making all those wild animal sounds across the park?"
Next, we headed to Delicate Arch, a three mile round trip hike. It was fun to see the surprised look on the kids' faces when we rounded the corner and saw the arch in the wind carved bowl of sandstone. There were only a few hikers near us which made it nice to savor the sights. We let them tear down the slick rock on the way back, enjoying the nearly empty trail and some exhilaration of running trails. The short distance sprints were perfect for their little legs, especially with all the extra wandering they did to find their rock treasures. We were all ready for some pizza by lunch time.
My favorite place to hike in Arches is in Devil's Garden. It has a surreal atmosphere with rock fins sticking out of the sand like fingers. Part of the four-mile trail includes walking across the top of one of these fins, while looking down a hundred feet on one side. Elena did not like this part of the trail and had tears streaming down her face, but...the surprise Double Arch at the end was worth the hike.
There are several other arches along the way, including Landscape Arch, Partition Arch, Dark Arch, and Navajo Arch. We had to hurry through the last set of arches because it was getting dark. Elena left her (my) running gloves on a rock when she had dumped out the sand in her shoes. She ran back with me in the twilight to find the gloves and we had fun racing up and down the trails to beat the setting sun. We had the kids wear water belts and running gloves, with temperatures in the thirties and lots of active exploring. It worked out pretty well and the only complaint from them was not having enough water.
The salt water hot tub at the hotel was the perfect way to end the day. Twelve miles on the first day and the kids did great!
Canyonlands National Park
On our second day, we headed forty minutes north of Moab to explore Canyonlands National Park. We explored several outlooks with exciting drop-offs. Elena stayed on the far inside edge as we walked along. I think she was happy when we were done hiking :)
The trails we hiked overlooked the Colorado River, White Rim Trail, and Green River. Someday we'll have to come back and hike along the 100 mile White Rim Trail to see the Colorado and Green River confluence, which is only accessible along a 4x4 dirt road.