Arches National Park (With a Toddler)

Today was… overstimulating for all of us, but in a really good way. I’ve never seen anything like Arches; my own eyes were telling me that the vistas I was clearly seeing must be photoshopped, since there is no such thing as rock that colorful and sky that particular shade of cerulean blue.

Double Arch

We woke up this morning at our hotel, the Aarchway Inn. (Yes, that’s two A’s.) I love this place. The pool is closed for the winter, so the owner put a bouncy house in the lobby. We almost weren’t able to pry Ami away.

After a quick stop at the grocery store to buy picnic supplies, we drove north out of town to Arches. There was no line to get in and very little traffic at all. I’ve read that the place can be a madhouse in the summertime, but we were fortunate today; there were very few visitors and the weather was glorious. It was a little cold (high in the mid-40’s), but the skies were clear.

The visitor’s center was our first stop. It was really well laid out and very informative, with displays and videos to explain some of the unique geological processes that created this landscape. Plus, the setting can’t be beat.

We did a little bit of research last night to narrow down our visit, and were so happy to see that several of the hikes were toddler-friendly. With that in mind, we started at the Double Arch, which is an easy, level walk. Of course, Ami still wanted to be carried, and also of course, we don’t have a carrier with us.

After a bit, though, she got into the spirit of things, and decided she wanted to do some rock-clambering as well.

I loved seeing her really get into her surroundings.

After a quick picnic lunch (observed by some very interested ravens, who I’m pretty sure understood that toddlers often drop food) we drove to Sand Dune Arch. This arch is tucked inside an immense rock formation. In the heat of the summer, the shade created by its setting must be sincerely appreciated, but in winter it was a little chilly.

So we got another chance to break out Ami’s snowsuit! I have a feeling she won’t get to wear it much when we get back to Austin.

Sand Dune Arch is so-called because the floor of the area is covered in extremely fine red sand. I brought a couple of buckets, and Ami was thrilled to play in the biggest sandbox she’d ever seen.

Sand Dune Arch

We even ran down a tiny hill, which reminded me a very little bit of running down the dunes at Warren Dunes in Indiana when I was a kid. Though I don’t remember being watched by Abraham Lincoln when I was a kid (check the right foreground).

And, of course, sand angels. There was SO much sand in Ami’s hair tonight…

Our last Arches stop was at the upper viewing point for Delicate Arch. The hike to get to the arch itself is 3 miles, and I was a little concerned about both how much time that would take the three of us and how much enjoyment Ami would actually get out of the enterprise, so the viewing point was a bit of a compromise. The upper viewing point is a .5 mile walk, though it is up a number of stairs. I was a little disappointed, since the arch was farther away than I’d anticipated. Here’s the view from the top of the trail, with Delicate Arch visible near the middle.

Ami was very helpful with arch-spotting.

The sun set while we were climbing back down to our minivan, so it was sadly time to leave Arches National Park. What an incredible place. Words fail me.

Driving back to Moab, we stopped at Lin Ottinger’s Moab Rock Shop. This place is a treasure! Lin has been fossil and rock hunting for 85 years. 85! He’s amassed a huge treasure trove and has even discovered an iguanadon, which is now of course named after him. His shop is a little claustrophobic, but very well-organized, with many wonders to uncover. We let Ami pick out a few rocks to bring home.

Then, dinner at Susie’s Branding Iron (beans and fry bread for me, chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes for Logan, a cheeseburger and French fries for Ami) and the drive back to our hotel. You’d think after a day like this Ami would have fallen asleep quickly and without much help, but nope. 11:15 and lots of books. Tomorrow morning should be interesting.

Tomorrow! We hit the road again and head to Zion for one night.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s