Arches National Park

We started our road trip intending to reach Bryce National Park on the first night – not a terribly lofty plan, but it would still make for a long day. 

When we hit Vegas around noon, doubt set in.  Driving unfamiliar roads in dusky canyonlands didn’t seem like the sort of challenge we’d be up for after only a couple hours of sleep.  Thanks to Google and a few small towns that valued cell signal, we aimed instead for Beaver Utah.  After a decent slice of small-town-diner pie and a much better night’s rest, we set sights on Arches National Park for Day 2.

I’d read of the glories of Route 12 and desperately wanted to hit Arches that way, but as it was Friday we figured it would be better to get a camping spot first and then see what we could fit into the rest of the day.  This turned out to be a much better plan, because even though the 70 was technically faster we still couldn’t help but stop along the way, so we didn’t arrive at Arches until 2:30.

And were promptly told by a park ranger at the help desk, wearing her best not another idiot face, that we’d be lucky to find any spots to camp in the park.

Cue a VERY quick tour of the sights from the main road as we rushed past tents and kayaks, looking for a hint of an empty spot.  Nothing by the river.  Nothing further into the park.  Anything up there, off that dirt road?  Yes.

We’d snagged one of the five primitive spots at the base of Fisher Towers.  Another was empty; the other three were taken by couples like us.  No water, no trash – no problem!  All we needed was a spot to sleep and set up the stove.

An hour later, in 100° and 2% humidity, the tent (that takes 10 minutes to do) was set up.  A quick dinner, a long evening enjoying the sights we had nearly all to ourselves, and an undisturbed night’s sleep in one stunning camping spot.  Yeah – wishful thinking.  30+ mph winds had our tent half trying to escape, half caving in ALL NIGHT LONG.  We sighed, we laughed, we laid their for hours listening to the wind.  And we decided to get a hotel room the following night.

But the view was worth it.