After three hours we reach the park entrance of Arches National Park, but we don’t enter the park yet, because we just want to take a brief look at the city of Moab, UT which is only a few minutes from here.
Moab is a very small city (according to wikipedia it has only about 5.000 inhabitants) but it has a few supermarkets and… fast food restaurants. :-)
After a big pizza we enter Arches National Park and we don’t need a mile of driving to understand which terrific and outstanding national park we are in.
The most national parks we visited offered a big variety of ways to explore its beauty. Usually the national park services maintains a lot of trails for hiking, mountain-biking or other sports activities. But even if you are not able (or just don’t want) to hike or to do sports, the most parks offer a “scenic drive” on paved roads which leads you to the most important spots.
So sometimes driving a scenic drive is the best starter to get in touch with the national park around you. And here we are. We have to follow that drive to get to our campground. From the park entrance we need about an hour to get to the end of the road to finally reach “Devil’s Garden Campground”. Fortunately we have got a reservation, because each and every other site is already occupied.
The campground is the most impressing one of the whole trip. It has no hookup and is located in the midst of the desert. It is surrounded by multiple impressive sandstone formations. Their organic forms are so magical that you immediately start thinking about how the desert formed them within the last centuries, millenniums or millions of years.
We arrive in the early afternoon. When we park our RV and step outside the vehicle we recognize, that the sun is standing directly above our head. The shadow on the ground is minimal, the air is burning: 112° F (about 44° C). Fortunately the vehicle has got a shade sail, so we use that to sit a few moments in the shadow. But even if you’re doing nothing you don’t stop sweating.
We have a few days to explore this park and we plan to go on a few trails here. Hiking in the desert is special. On the one hand the conditions are sometimes very rude (hot, once we had a sand storm). But on the other hand these rude conditions in combination with the beauty of the desert and the well maintained trails gives you an increased amount of self-awareness. If you start your day early (i.e. 4.30 a.m.) in the morning you can go on a hike in the morning, take a rest until 5 p.m. and then do a second hike. There are a lot of things to see in that park, a sandstone hiking paradise.
Arches National Park in the summer can be very crowded. At daytime thousands of people are in the park exploring it by car, by motorcycle or by tourist bus. On a popular trail you usually meet hundreds of people. Nevertheless all the trails are worth going for it. But if you are searching for some quite places or hikes, you should find the “primitive trails”. Those are less crowded and because of that sometimes more impressive.
At nighttime on the campground, everything changes. Everything gets lonesome and silent. I will never forget the last night there sitting on a big rock watching the sunset.