Utah: worth the drive

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — I hadn’t taken a vacation in forever and decided it was time to go on a trip. I wanted to go somewhere relatively easy to get to but somewhere far enough away that it felt like a getaway. That’s why I chose to go to Moab, Utah.

Moab is surrounded by beautiful red rock landscapes and is only a seven and a half hour drive from Phoenix. It’s also only near Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park. 

Before I dive into more detail about Moab, I will say on the way there we first stopped by Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Monument Valley is a red-sand desert and is located on the Arizona-Utah border. It is known for the giant sandstone buttes of the park. To get into the park, there is a cash-only fee of $20, which covers up to four people per vehicle. Also, some choose to drive the 17-mile scenic drive to take pictures.

When we arrived at Moab, I was pleasantly surprised by how picturesque the city was. We checked into our hotel and went for dinner at the Moab Brewery. For anyone new to Moab, I would definitely recommend going here first. It is really busy but it’s worth the wait — trust me. The brewery, if you can’t already tell by the name, is known for its hand-crafted ales since 1996. We ordered nachos to start and tried two of their brews, as well as two different hamburgers. The burgers were juicy and delicious, and their beer-battered onion rings were to die for. The prices weren’t bad either; it was less than $40 for the entire meal.

The next day we visited Arches National Park and I got a free pass since I was active-duty military. We received a map and a visitor guide, as well. The drive through the park is flanked by red rock landscapes. There are also several scenic viewpoints to take pictures. We headed to the hiking trail up to the famous 65-foot-tall Delicate Arch to catch the sunset, and boy was it a view! Tourists from around the world were there with cameras ready to capture the shot. It was nice just to sit there and absorb the surroundings.

Another place one should look into visiting is Mesa Arch, which is located in Canyonlands National Park. Because Mesa Arch is widely known for a breathtaking view during sunrise, we work up at 4:30 a.m. to catch it. The drive was about 40-minutes long to reach the park’s visitor center but was well worth it. We pulled up to the trailhead and hiked up the quarter-mile trail. It was quite a site. One word of advice I would give is to arrive 30 minutes before sunrise to catch the perfect shot. Photographers were already lined up, and it was difficult to get anywhere near the arch, so we waited until the crowd thinned.

On the way back, we stopped by Dead Horse Point State Park to get a view of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park, which can be seen from the parking lot. The park is 5,362 acres of desert at an altitude of 5,900 feet.

On the way home we made one last stop at Page, Arizona, to see a view of Horseshoe Bend, which was one of my favorite views. It’s a little scary, since there is no fence or barrier, so a word of advice would be to not take selfies or pictures near the edge. The cost of the trip, other than the gas and hotel, was affordable. I packed meals so the only meal we ate out was dinner. I recommend visiting Moab to anyone who loves the outdoors and would like to get away from the desert for a bit.

More Stories From This Author