A business trip brought me to Salt Lake City on a Friday in July. The meeting was set up with little notice; we only had a week to make plans. Luckily, I didn’t have anything huge going on the following weekend, so I decided to make a mini-vacation out of it.
You know it’s going to be a gorgeous weekend when you get to see the sunset above when your plane is landing. Aaaaaah.
Utah is an amazing place – there is so much beautiful scenery and nature nearby. It is loaded with national parks. You can’t visit them all in a single weekend, so I had to choose. I had already been to Yellowstone & Grand Tetons (to the northeast – and these parks are actually in Wyoming, but close enough). I had not visited Zion & Bryce (to the south) or Arches & Canyonlands (to the southeast). Since Zion/Bryce are kind of close to Vegas, which I visit at least once a year, I figured it would be a good opportunity to check out Arches and Canyonlands.
Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are located in southeastern Utah, near the Colorado and Arizona borders. When my meeting was done, I headed down there in my rental car. The drive was about 300 miles one-way – about five hours (depending on traffic). I would have two full days (Sat & Sun) to go sightseeing. I began the return trip to Salt Lake City on Monday morning, flying home that evening.
The drive started out quite dull and full of Salt Lake City/Provo Friday evening traffic. It was very hot too! Temperatures reached around 100F or more every afternoon that weekend. But once I started traveling east on I-70/US-50, the drive became very scenic. There were all sorts of mountains, cliffs, rock formations, farms, poofy white clouds, and even scenic viewpoints to stop and check out.
Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are only about 30 miles apart. The land is part of the Colorado Plateau. This highland region that spans four states (CO, UT, AZ, NM) and features the mighty Colorado River running through it. Although Arches and Canyonlands are so close, their landscapes are very different. Arches National Park features all these crazy rock formations that stick out of the ground: arches, buttles, spires, etc. On the other hand, Canyonlands National Park features huge canyons dug into the earth by the Colorado and Green rivers.
Located just south of Arches National Park is a town called Moab. It’s the perfect base of operations for travelers. I stayed at the Apache Motel there. It was nothing fancy, but all I needed were a bed, a shower, and some air conditioning 🙂 Moab is a rather large tourist town. There are many hotels, restaurants, and stores. The downtown area is cute and clean, great for grabbing a bite to eat or buying a souvenir.
Moab is also pretty cool because it’s right in the middle of all this beautiful scenery. You can see the mountains and rock formations in every direction.
After a long day of business, driving, and sightseeing along the way, I got to bed early to prepare for a couple days of communing with nature. My next article: a morning in Arches National Park.