We arrived at our campsite near Arches mid-afternoon, which unluckily for us was the hottest part of the day. Desperate to find some shade we drove further into BLM land, finally finding a small tree to provide a cool haven away from the day’s blazing sun. We had a much needed spray-bottle shower, a few refried bean tacos, then settled in for the evening, leaving the back doors open and flyscreen up to try and capture the little breeze we had.
The next morning we rose in darkness, hoping to enter Arches before anyone else and hike to Delicate Arch, a rock arch so famous that it’s proudly displayed on Utah’s official number plate. As we rolled up to the main gates we were told by a worker that overnight construction was still going and that we weren’t allowed to enter until 7am. We frustratingly pulled into the parking lot of the visitor centre and Anita went back to sleep as I made use of the wifi network I discovered.
As soon as 7am hit we joined a convoy of eager vehicles entering the park and headed straight to Delictate Arch. We were the third or fourth couple to hit the track but could see car after car pulling up as we marched ahead. It seemed that everyone had the same idea – beat the crowds and capture the perfect photo with the arch. Thankfully Anita and I are seasoned hikers, so easily overtook couple after couple as they pulled to the side puffed and sweaty.
If I’m to be be honest I had pretty low expectations of Delicate Arch. I mean, how impressive could a rock arch be, right? But when we finally reached the top we were blown away by it’s magnificence. Not only was the arch gigantic but through the other side was a breathtaking view out across the park. We quickly took our photos, spent a little time admiring, then headed back down the trail just as the waves of other hikers poured over the crest. After Delictate Arch we stopped by Landscape Arch, Balanced Rock and Park Avenue, unfortunately missing Windows Arch due to road closures. We then headed to Moab town for some lunch and to spend the hottest part of the day relaxing in the shade at a nearby park.
The next morning we headed to Deadhorse State Park to view one of the most underated and less-visited viewpoints in Utah. We arrived just as the sun rose from the mountains, and with only one or two couples on the other side of the canyon rim we had the view close to all to ourselves. With nothing but the sound of a slight breeze it was truly a surreal experience.
As the morning got lighter we continued on to Canyonlands National Park where we climbed to Aztec Butte, a short but physical hike to a collection of Anasazi granaries, built in alcoves below the rim of a steep-sided mesa. After returning to Fuego we drove on to the Grand View Point where we originally intended to hike, but as we were able to drive to the best view point we thought we’d skip the hike and get a head start on driving to our next destination, the Grand Canyon – but not without a few stops along the way.