We started the day in Moab with a delicious breakfast at the Jailhouse Cafe. This quickly became a favorite place, and we ended up coming here a couple of times throughout the week. Built in 1855, the building was a private residence and county courthouse.
One of the rooms has foot-thick adobe walls and was used as a jailhouse in the early days.
We were able to eat outside on the patio.
After breakfast, we immediately drove the three or so miles from Moab to Arches National Park. Ever since reading Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey in the mid-1990’s, I’d wanted to visit this area. His vivid description of the park and its beauty and its ecosystem intrigued me. The park didn’t disappoint–it was all I’d hoped for and much more. Much, much more.
As you drive up the hill into the park, red sandstone cliffs flank one side of the road. A steep drop-off flanks the other side. Once you round the first corner, you are presented with an unending playground of red rock formations of all shapes and sizes. There are many, many places to pull over to take pictures and take short or long hikes. This place really caters to all comers, regardless of your fitness level or the level of adventure you’re looking for.
Balanced Rock is one of the more famous formations in the park. It is here that Edward Abbey lived in his trailer as he stewarded the park for a few years in the mid-1950’s. There is no sign of the trailer now, but you can envision what it must have been like to live here, in solitude much of the time.
Driving the 18-mile road to the end of the park, you can see rock formations of all types. These are many of the spires (or needles, as they’re sometimes called) that we saw.
Just a mile or so past Balanced Rock is an area called The Windows Section. It has several arches. You can see them from the parking lot, but it’s fun to hike up to them. It’s a short quarter-mile hike to Double Arch in The Windows Section. The only problem is it’s all up hill, and it was just starting to get hot by the time we did this hike. Notice the people at the bottom of the picture to get an idea of the size of this set of arches.
On the other side of the parking lot and up another (hot) hill there are three other arches. One of them, Turet Arch, is actually a formation with several interesting aspects.
We drove further down the road through the park, in continual awe. We started to realize we couldn’t stop and hike at each sight. Sigh. Too much beauty for one day! We took the turn off for Wolfe Ranch because this is where you find Delicate Arch, which is the arch that graces Utah’s license plate. By this time it was very hot, and someone we chatted with in the parking lot told us it was a steep uphill hike to get to the arch. But there are viewpoints from near the parking lot. We decided to take a short quarter-mile hike to one of the viewpoints today, and come back to hike directly to the arch early on another day when it was still relatively cool. we were able to zoom in and get a fairly decent picture. Again, notice the (small) people to get an idea of the size of the arch.
Next we stopped at Sand Dune Arch. To get to this arch, you hike between “fins,” which are tall, narrow, well . . . fins. It was shady and cool in between them. Ahhhh . . . relief from the heat for a moment.
Here’s another view of the fins near Sand Dune Arch. Later in the week, I found myself hiking on top (yikes!) of fins similar to these in an attempt to get to some arches we hadn’t seen. I don’t handle heights well, and was scared beyond belief. More about that frightening, unexpected experience in another post.
By the end of the day, we were hot, tired, and ready for refreshments. We headed back into Moab and spent the evening visiting several shops, and had drinks and snacks at various watering holes and restaurants.
We ended up having a delicious dessert at Jeffrey’s Steak House and Ghost Bar. Probably the nicest restaurant in Moab, Jeffrey’s features fine cuisine, including Wagyu beef. We headed upstairs to the Ghost Bar, where we had a nice visit with the owner and heard stories about how the Ghost Bar got its name. We enjoyed a wonderful dessert. Homemade lemon ice cream on a homemade crunchy, chewy, carmelized lemon crust. Light and refreshing, a perfect ending to the day.