Arches was my 7th national park to explore on this round-the-country trek, and its otherworldly landscape and vibrant color palette were so vastly different from the prior six parks that it felt worlds away.

It was warm, which meant that it felt worlds away from the 20-degree nights of the previous weeks, as well, which made me deliriously happy.

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Trying not to blow away at Delicate Arch

As a largely solar-powered human, I’m energized by sun and warmth and my energy during my days in Utah felt limitless.

I scrambled up cliff faces, trekked into the dusty bowels of canyons, summited mountain peaks, and put about 100 miles on my funky-looking vegan trail boots – all under bright blue skies and a hot sun that baked layers of multicolored sand and dirt to my skin.

Arches felt smaller than other National Parks, and in one full day I’d hiked just about every trail in the park. After a night spent shooting the full moon rise over the Garden of Eden and watching the Milky Way pop into visibility with startling brilliance, I was ready to move on to Canyonlands.

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Hiking in slippers in rattlesnake country isn’t the best idea 🙂

There are some parks that I’ve felt I could spend weeks exploring, and while I’m sure this could be done in Arches there just aren’t a huge amount of trail options, so keep this in mind if you’re planning a trip to southern Utah’s parks. It’s definitely doable to do both Arches and Canyonlands within a timespan of 2-3 days!

My favorite trails in any park are the most primitive ones, and my favorite hike in Arches was the Primitive Loop trail through Devil’s Garden, which led to seven different arches and was, for the most part, deserted.

 

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The desert is overflowing with color and life

I believe that sunrises and sunsets are worth celebrating and I make a point to see every single one, whether it’s from a hill overlooking the jumbled chaos of a city, a cliff above a roaring ocean, or a deserted desert.

Sometimes I’m the solo spectator, but often I share sunrises and sunsets with others who also believe they should be celebrated, and I’ve met some wildly fascinating folks this way.

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A fiery desert sky near Balanced Rock

 

Sunset at Arches National Park was a spectacular kaleidoscope of colors and shadows chasing each other across the desert sky, and I shared it with four sisters who were road-tripping through Colorado and Utah in a huge van that would make an incredible home-on-wheels. (They weren’t living in it, though. I asked, and they puzzled over the fact that I actually lived in the tiny blue car parked next to their van.) One was a nun (but they made sure I understood that they were blood sisters not nun sisters, although I’d already ascertained that from the differences in wardrobe.) One was an academic with a new SLR she was testing out. One was a very athletic-looking nurse. And the fourth… well, she just was, I guess. I’d seen them throughout the day on different trails and my curiosity had been fiercely piqued. Meeting them and hearing about how they’d come together from various corners of the country to weave a memory-full story through the desert made my heart happy and made me want to have an adventure with my own three sisters (even though most likely none of us would be wearing a nun-suit…although depending on where it was in the country I might not be opposed to it, as it looked quite warm.)

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I turned around after capturing sunset and saw the moon creeping up over the rock formations at Garden of Eden…one of my favorite moon rises to date

There are many beautiful places in Arches National Park to watch the sunset from, but I picked the Garden of Eden and it was magic… be sure to stick around for the moon rise!

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Full moon rise behind Garden of Eden at Arches National Park

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My tiny-home-on-wheels taking on the desert

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Towering red walls interrupt the flatness of the desert

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An Arches National Park sunset from the Garden of Eden

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