“Never lose your sense of wonder” -Anonymous
2 weeks ago we drove 1,100 miles one way to the town of Moab, Utah for our family vacation. To say this was a great vacation is an understatement. I was SO EXCITED to go to Utah. I have never been west of Denver, CO on the ground (I have flown to California a few times), and our kids had never seen the mountains or desert or Utah. I/we planned this vacation for quite some time and I was thrilled that it all worked out. I could write an entire blog about how I researched, booked and packed for our family of 7 to go for 8 days. Packing and planning for 7 people is quite an undertaking. We also asked a cousin, Maddie, to come along and help us with the kids. She agreed and she was such a great help! There is no way we could have had this great experience without her, and we were so happy to have her along! Another perk was that due to Gabriel being in 4th grade, our entire family got into all of the National Parks for free through the every kid in a park program. Winning!
We stretched the drive over 3 days, stopping in Council Bluffs, IA and Denver, CO to stay with family overnight. They were all so generous to let 8 of us stay overnight! We did enjoy this extra time with family. Total (without stops) the drive was about 18 hours. It took us much, much longer than this!
First of all, Utah is like another planet. The landscape is so different! The air is dry as a bone and the landscape changes (sometimes drastically) every few miles. Made the drive very interesting! Once we made it to Utah we headed to the visitor center and the grocery store! I had booked us an Airbnb condo for 4 nights and it literally was a dream. We had 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen, pullout couch, washer and dryer, a pool and hot tub and everything we needed other than food for a comparable price to the many of the hotels in Moab. We stocked up for the week and saved a lot of money this way! We will definitely do Airbnb again!
Later that night we set our eyes for the first time in Arches National Park. AMAZING. We saw the double arch and the sunset in the park. Beauty all around. Pictures of course don’t do it justice but I will share anyways:
The next 4 days we spent exploring Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park and Moab. Arches National Park has 2000 arches!! We did a LOT of hiking, to the tune of 6-8 miles/day. The trails were rated either easy, moderate or difficult. We did 1 difficult trail that was 3 miles steeply uphill the first half with a spectacular end of the Delicate Arch, and the rest were easy/moderate. The kids did really well overall. We all wore Camelbak backpacks full of water and J or I packed Kateri on our back or put her in the jogging stroller, depending on the route. On the steep ledges and cliffs (they were everywhere!) we were especially careful with Ruth because we all know how she is. I actually bought a leash backpack for the trip and Ruth loved that thing, so that worked well. We definitely all got over our fear of heights because we stood on the edge of 1000 foot cliffs with no guardrails! It was incredibly hot, with the hottest day 107 deg. At one time our van read 118 deg on the asphalt! Of course there was no humidity, but the sun was super strong!
Everything in Utah is MASSIVE. Everything reminded me of prehistoric times and of course pictures don’t catch the depth or magnitude of the landscape. It was so striking and awesome!
One of the last things we did (on a very HOT day, I might add), was to hike to a local waterfall and swimming hole that my seasoned traveller sister in law told us about! This was a weird hike where the trail was not marked well and we had to cross a large stream several times, but the end was worth it! Large bluffs surrounded the swimming hole and the kids were jumping off the waterfall into the water. Good times!
Our condo was so great! So much room and saved us a lot on food. Good views of some red rock out our patio door as well! I have to give Maddie a shout out here. She was SUCH a great help. Case in point: one morning I woke up and Ruth had had a potty accident overnight. Maddie had changed her, stripped the bed, started that bedding in the washer, gave Ruth a bath and started breakfast. I was so amazed and grateful! We had such a good time with her!
We definitely want to return to Utah again and see more. Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, the sand hills and others are on our list! Have van, will travel!
If you have the chance, GO TO UTAH!!!!!!