Moab UT

This post covers our 3 days at Moab UT.

Following our arrival Saturday we went to Mass and dinner in preparation for an early Sunday morning trip over to Delicate Arch…this is the most famous arch in Arches National Park and when we were here before it was just after Neil’s broken foot healed in 2013 and he wasn’t up to a hike of that length and difficulty.

So…the hike from the parking area is 3.2 miles and gains just a bit over 500 feet…all on the way out to the arch of this out and back hike. We got to the parking area about 0815 and started up…we met some…a bunch actually…of folks just finishing their hike…they musta been there and started the hike just at 0700 when the park opened. 

The hike is mostly just rocky…although there’s a half mile section (of the 1.5 mile one way trip) that’s called Slick Rock because it’s just bare rock at about a 15 degree grade. Once over that…you think you’re done climbing but actually the last 3/4 of a mile across the top of the ridge to the arch continues uphill. Here’s a screenshot of Neil’s phone track showing the profile we hiked today.

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Once we got to the top we got some pictures and then headed back down. It was a lot easier going down but Connie ran out of gas about halfway back and really struggled the last 3/4 of a mile even though it was mostly downhill. Once we got down…Neil made her sit and went and got Big Red to save her the walk back. 

We noticed two strange phenomena on this hike. First was the half dozen idiots…who…despite having to hike uphill on stone and then sand…wore either flip-flops or Crocs. In the guy’s defense they were camo Crocs so maybe he figured that made it OK. In addition we saw 2…count ‘em 2…guys with painted toenails. Second was the way that a goodly number of the…well, I’ll just call them assholes as that’s what they are…parked. Down at the parking lot there were probably 300 spaces total but about 25 of them were marked as “RVs Only”…these were longer so an RV up to say 35 feet could park. When we got back down…we discovered that all of the RV spaces were occupied…and not one of them was occupied by an RV. Never mind that there were at least 50 parking spaces still empty…and never mind that the assholes were parking to go on a hike…the lazy assholes just couldn’t be bothered to walk an extra 50 yards to get to the trailhead so that any RVs that came in afterwards would have a place to park.

Have I mentioned that I hate people?

Ok…on to some photos from the hike.

Looking back towards the parking area from about the halfway point on the hike…looking back from the bottom of the Slick Rock section. If you look carefully just to the right of the green area in the  center you can see some of the vehicles in the lot.

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Looking up from the bottom of Slick Rock…this was the major climb on the hike although as you can see from the profile it was pretty much a steady slog all the way out. At the top of Slick Rock you basically turn left and continue across the ridge top until you get to Delicate Arch.

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Looking back from the top of Slick Rock towards the parking area.

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A couple of shots off to the left side as we made the final climb to the arch. The hole in the second shot is about 50 feet tall.

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Delicate Arch. I left the guy taking a photo op in the first one for scale. This 60 foot tall arch is the most famous one in the park…but was not actually in the park when it was designated as a national monument in 1929…it was added when the monument was expanded in 1938. The Olympic torch relay in 2002 passed through the arch. It was previously known as “The Chaps” and “Schoolmarm’s Bloomers” by local cowboys before being added to the monument.

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The bowl shaped hole to the right of the arch is about 60 feet deep.

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That was our day on Sunday…we had angel hair pasta with bacon, homemade basil pesto, butter, and Parmesan Reggiano  for dinner…and it was pretty fantastic.

Monday we only had one Fun Stuff© item to accomplish…it required us to get up at 0330 and leave the house at 0430 in order to get there on time…but again I digress.

Our destination was Mesa Arch…which is probably the second most famous arch in the world after Delicate Arch above…but there’s really two things about Mesa Arch that cause a bit o’ puzzlement. First off…it’s not in Arches National Park at all but about 40 miles away in Canyonlands National Park about halfway down Island in the Sky Road from US-191 right outside of Archview RV Resort. For those of you not familiar with Canyonlands…it’s divided into 3 parts. The northern half is up on top mesa that overlooks the canyons and is known as Island in the Sky. The southeast quarter is all down in the belly of the canyons  looking up and the Needles section is the southwest quarter. Only about 5 percent tops of the canyon is road accessible and most of that requires 4WD and a high clearance vehicle. The remainder…particularly the Needles section…is only accessible on foot or on horseback. What you can see though…is the sheer breadth of the landscape…although we were not able to see it very well today as it was really windy and the air is full of dust…from the southernmost point of Island in the Sky to the visitor center down in the southeast corner is probably 25 miles and typically you can make out the visitor center.

The second thing about Mesa Arch…is that except for an accident of geography it would not be famous. It’s pretty small as arches out in Arches and Canyonlands NPs go, not very tall or long at all. Arches are formed when the stone weathers into a fin shape and then it weathers further so that the center section falls leaving the arch. Mesa is about 20 feet tall, 120 feet wide and the hole is about 8 feet tall at maximum…and is what is termed a pothole arch by the geologists. What it does have going for it is that it’s right on the edge of a 2,000 foot or so drop-off, there’s another ridge 5 or 6 miles away to the east, and the opening in the arch faces eastward…this leads to some pretty spectacular sunrises at this location. The only troubles are that at it’s elevation of 6,200 feet sunrise comes pretty early…and that it’s 40 miles from anywhere…hence our 0330 wakeup call.

Once we were on the road we headed south down US-191 which takes you right into the Island in the Sky district of the park and thence right down to Mesa Arch…and afterwards another 8 miles or so to Grand View Point where you have about a 220 degree view of the canyon portion of Canyonlands NP. Sunrise today was scheduled for 0553…which meant we had to be there by 0530 along with 50 or so of our closest friends…and do the half mile hike over to the arch in the dark.

We arrived…got our tripod setup…and were immediately gratified to learn that all of the assholes I talked about earlier must have decided to head out to Mesa this morning. One would think that later arrivals would notice all the folks with tripods already setup for photos and not barge into the middle of the group pushing earlier arrivals to the side or setting up right in front of them…but if you think that then you would be thinking incorrectly. Darned millennials and foreign tourists…they seem to think that they have a God given right to insert their worthless snowflake presence in front of you and that you should just accept it. I guess I mentioned before…I hate people.

In any event…we stood our ground…and Neil was rude to several who barged in front of him and told them to get out of the way…and we just stood there and waited on the sun to come up. By and by…it did…we all got our photos…and by 0630 it was all over and we all headed for our cars. We were here before back in 2013 and it certainly seemed to him that courtesy was even more lacking now than it was back then. Last time we were here there were about the same number of people…but each took turns staying out of the way and allowing others to get a people free shot and trying to stay out of other photographer’s way. Oh well.

That’s enough griping about people…on to the photos.

This one shows what Neil called Combat Photography…very similar to Combat Salmon Fishing up in Alaska. As you can see…as arches here in these two NPs go it’s not really all that large…but like in real estate it’s location…this shot was taken at about 0630 right before we left.

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After hiking back up to Big Red we continued southward to Grand View Point stopping to get some more photos along the way…then headed home for a much needed nap after our early, early wakeup.

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Neil especially liked this sign outside of the pit toilets…we followed their instructions and unloaded.

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We had some lunch…and then spent most of the afternoon with the power going up and down…the winds were blowing 40 knots and higher gusts…great billowing dust clouds everywhere…the mountains I posted the shots of before almost obscured in the dust and finally about 1630 the power went down and stayed down. We were unable to open any windows due to the dust clouds until about 1900…it finally died down enough so that we could open a couple on the downwind side and turn on the fans then it came back on for good about 2000. Neil talked to the campground manager and it was out all the way from Dead Horse State Park 20 miles to our south up to 20 miles north of here at Thompson up by I-70. 

Tuesday we got up and did laundry around eating breakfast then headed off for our last Fun Stuff© thing in Moab…a quick hike at the Scott M Matheson Wetlands Preserve just south of the Colorado River at the northern end of Moab. Moab itself is in a little valley between the mountains and the river runs through a canyon both upstream and downstream of Moab. The bend in the river as it crosses the valley between canyons led to the development of a wetlands area known as the Moab Slough…although this was a short hike of less than a mile it really showed us a different side of Utah…all around Moab, Arches, and Canyonlands it’s high desert and mountains but there’s this little spot of lush green with a delightful breeze keeping it great in the shade.

Photos were kinda thin…and wildlife sightings were really thin but that’s just the way it goes some days. Here are a few to give you a bit of the flavor of the place…as I said it was quite striking to find a lush, green almost swampy section of land in the middle of the Utah high desert.

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Little cottonwood tree seed on it’s delivery mechanism…Connie tried to get some of these in the air as they were plentiful but none of the photos panned out.

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One of our two wildlife sightings…the other was a lizard that just went way too fast even though Neil tried to catch it for a photo. We looked at Peterson’s for 15 minutes trying to identify this guy without a complete success. The coloring matched most closely to a female MacGillivray’s Warbler but we eventually decided the size was larger than that (probably) and the sitting in the tree posture was a little more vertical than horizontal like most warblers tend to do. Our other possibility was either a Western Kingbird or a Cassin’s Kingbird…the posture and size seemed to match a little better but the coloring wasn’t quite what we saw visually and on the photo…it looked more brownish than grayish like the examples in Peterson’s. Not having the long bird lens didn’t help either…if we had taken it we would have a better closeup and probably could have identified it more conclusively. We’re going to go with the Kingbird though based on size and perching posture.

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Looking southward towards Mount Lasal…this is about 17 miles away and its a lot clearer today.

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Looking out over the marshy area.

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Flower Connie found.

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This hike was short and flat…but again we still figured that UT should import some oxygen.

We got back to the car and ended our day of fun…stopped by the library for some fast internet, the Golden Arches for a quick lunch, and a local grocery for some vittles…we’re headed to Blanding UT about 100 miles south from here tomorrow and it’s even more out in the MoNW (middle of nowhere) than Moab is…but we wanted to see the parks, monuments and such in southeast UT so that was the place to park.

Interesting Stuff found on the net.

I guess the camouflage paint is working.


Bad time to get towed.


Meanwhile…in Arizona.


This place has amazin’ baptisms.


And a couple of garage door art shots from our friend Gail.





About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
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4 Responses to Moab UT

  1. Cat White says:

    Yup, going with kingbird. As for the grayish or brownish debate, one of my favorite biology professors remarked that, ” Nature doesn’t read the books and birds don’t always match the pictures. And they don’t care”. Same holds true in botany I understand. A medal to Neil for the photos during combat photography.

    My mom visited my brother and his wife in Arizona. They were pretty much in love with the high desert and showed her all around. They told me that Mom was very enthusiastic about it. When she got home she swore me to secrecy (mom, brother and wife are long passed so I’m not telling tales) and told me that the whole damned place looked like an overgrown gravel pit. With cactus. I fear that finding a scorpion in her shoe and a black widow spider behind the washing machine colored her view of the Southwest somewhat.

    Carry on. Have fun. All that oxygen must have gone somewhere. You’ll find it.

    • Neil Laubenthal says:

      Yeah…color varies from individual to individual a lot sometimes…but the size and perching posture convinced us on the kingbird.

      Sure is gravelly and dusty out here…after our mud-hole adventure in Kansas we considered washing the truck but decided to wait until after the desert was over…it’s even worse looking now.

      We keep looking for oxygen…didn’t find any today on our trip to Hovenweep and Natural Bridges Nat Monuments. >

  2. Breathless pictures.

    • Neil Laubenthal says:

      Thanks…we do try to keep our followers amused/interested/entertained.


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